Latin America and the International Economy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alejandra Irigoin, 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.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write a short weekly report, to be presented verbally, either 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;  Bertola, 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 (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2019/20: 29

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Capped 2019/20: 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