Latin America and the International Economy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Peter Sims, SAR.6.15


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History, BSc in Economics with Economic History and BSc in International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the development trajectory of Latin America and its relation with the international economy from the Early Modern period (c. 1700) to the present. It focuses on the political and economic factors that drove - and that resulted from- the region’s engagement with the world attending to the environment, population and factor endowments, institutions and policies. The causes and outcomes of this 'engagement' will be explored in the following broad themes: the determinants of Latin American growth performance, the political economic legacy of European rule and of the formation of modern states and markets; the ambivalent relation with international markets and institutions, the continuous quest for development together with political and macroeconomic instability; the economic aspects of different political experiments and political culture - from authoritarian to democratic regimes and various generations of populism interspersed with military rule and direct democracy- and the short and long run impact on equality, poverty and the prospect for sustained intensive growth.


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

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two essays or equivalent pieces of written work, and offer an oral presentation individually or in a team throughout the course.

Indicative reading

V. Bulmer-Thomas (2014) The Economic History of Latin America since Independence, Cambridge University Press, Ibid. (2012) The Economic History of the Caribbean since the Napoleonic Wars, Cambridge University Press; P. Franko, (2007) The puzzle of Latin American economic development, Rowman & Littlefield; J. L. Gallup, (2003) Is geography destiny?: lessons from Latin America, World Bank; E. Stein, et al. (2008) Policymaking in Latin America: how politics shapes policies, IADB; V. Bulmer-Thomas, JH Coatsworth, and R. Cortés Conde (2006) The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, Cambridge University Press 2 vols; Ocampo, JA, and Ross, J (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press;  Bértola, L and Ocampo, JA (2012), The economic development of Latin America since independence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scartascini, CG., Stein E. and Tommasi, M (2010). How democracy works: political institutions, actors, and arenas in Latin American policymaking. [Washington, D.C.]: IADB; Blake, C.H (2007) Politics in Latin America 2nd edition Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company. Edwards, S, Esquivel, G & Márquez, G. (2007) The decline of Latin American economies growth, institutions, and crises. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Bethell, L. (1984/2008) The Cambridge History of Latin America, Cambridge University Press, vols IV and VI


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

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: 43

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Capped 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