Economic Development of East and Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2020/21 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, MSc in International and Asian History 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.

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 Term and Week 6 of Lent Term.  

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);
  • 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).

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: 12

Average class size 2019/20: 8

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

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