Economic Growth, Development, and Capitalism in Historical Perspective

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jeremiah Dittmar


This course is available on the MSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economics and MSc in Economics (2 Year Programme). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students must have completed Introductory Course in Mathematics and Statistics (EC400).

Students should also have completed courses in intermediate level microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics.

In exceptional circumstances, students may take this course without EC400 provided they meet the necessary requirements and have received approval from the course conveners (via a face to face meeting), the MSc Economics Programme Director and their own Programme Director. Contact the Department of Economics for more information ( regarding entry to this course.

Course content

This course will provide a rigorous introduction to the analysis of long run economic growth and development. The focus is on acquiring the necessary empirical skills to engage in advanced analysis of economic evidence, and to develop an understanding of how historical evidence can shape and inform economic theory. Topics at the forefront of economics and economic history will be covered. These include political economy, technological change, economic growth, education, demography, the economics of law and property rights, gender, culture, and the distribution of income. The emphasis will be on combining theory and data to evaluate fundamental ideas in economics concerning the determinants of well-being and the dynamics of market economies.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 60 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes, live streamed (recorded) lectures, and some flipped content delivered as short online videos

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce at least 1 presentation and 1 exercise in the MT and LT. The formative coursework will consist of a combination of student presentations, written exercises, data analysis, and problems.

Indicative reading

Most of the reading is from journal articles which appear on reading lists distributed at the start of each part of the course. However, the following references may serve as an introduction to material included in the syllabus: Nunn, "The Importance of History for Economic Development" (2009); Robinson and Acemoglu, "Why Nations Fail" (2012); Acemoglu, "Introduction to Modern Economic Growth" (Princeton, 2009); Hall and Jones, "The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital" (2010); Mokyr, "Lever of Riches" (1988); Piketty (2013) "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"; Diamond (1997) "Guns, Germs and Steel".


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Essay (50%, 6000 words) in the ST.

The summative assessment consists of an exam that reviews and synthesises all course materials and an essay.  The essay will be a critical analytic essay providing an opportunity for original empirical research.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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: Economics

Total students 2020/21: 15

Average class size 2020/21: 16

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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