EH429      Half Unit
History of Economics: Ideas, Policy and Performativity

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Mary S. Morgan SAR 609


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Accounting (AOI) (Accounting, Organisations and Institutions Track), MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia), MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences 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.

Students can take this course independently of EH428.

Course content

The course aim is to understand how economics has been used to change the world.  It brings together the long tradition of analysis of economics as a policy science with more recent ideas about the performativity of economics. It draws on the literatures of economic history, history of economics, political economy and sociology of accounting and finance to explore the aims and methods used by economists to influence, shape and direct the economy. The focus of study will be on particular episodes from 20th century history in which economics features as a technical art (e.g. the transition from colonial to  independent economies; the Soviet and Cuban revolutions; and the reconstruction of depressed and damaged economies).


20 hours of lectures in the LT.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes, lectures, and, if possible, archival visits, totalling a minimum of 20 hours across 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 Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to write two essays or equivalent pieces of written work, and contribute reading notes to shared Moodle resources.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be given out at the beginning of the course. Henry Spiegel's The Growth of Economic Thought (various editions, Duke University Press) provides a general background text to history of economics.  T.M. Porter’s Trust in Numbers (1995, Duke University Press) is an important item on the reading list that can be usefully read ahead of the course.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

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: 15

Average class size 2019/20: 15

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills