Economic Development of East and Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kent Deng SAR 517


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in Global Politics and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no pre-requisites: knowledge of Asian history of the relevant period and region would be an advantage.

Course content

The course deals with the conditions and paths of economic development in East Asia (excluding Japan) and Southeast Asia in past centuries. The first part of the course looks at the debate on Asian economic history, including the effect of the availability of endowments, and the institutions, technology and economic structures  that evolved independently in Asia to support a large population with reasonable standards of living. The second part of the course examines the reasons for the lack of indigenous modern growth in Asia, the conditions and timing of the ‘growth miracle’ of the Asian Tigers, ASEAN and Mainland China after World War Two, and the relationship to the growth of the world economy.

Topics covered include: traditional economic patterns in the region before the 17th century; the impact of the early European maritime traders; the impact of later Europeans traders backed by industrialisation; attempts and successes of Western colonisation; resistance to change from the core area in the East Asian Mainland; reforms and modernisation in Asia; Asia and globalisation.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of each term, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

A Booth, 'The Economic Development of Southeast Asia: 1870-1985' Australian Economic History Review, 31 (1); G Snooks et al Exploring Southeast Asia's Economic Past (1991); I Brown, Economic Change in Southeast Asia (1997); Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence (2000); J M Hobson The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (2004); P. Dicken et al., Globalisation and the Asia Pacific (1999); S. Kim, East Asia and Globalization (2000); K.T. Lee, Globalisation in the Asia Pacific Economy (2002); and Rui H and P. Nolan, Globalisation, Transition and Development in China (2004).


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 3500 words).

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2018/19: 24

Average class size 2018/19: 12

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills