The Internationalisation of Economic Growth, 1870 to the present day

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Minns SAR.5.12, Dr Timothy Leunig and Prof Sara Horrell SAR 6.03


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economics and Economic History and BSc in Economics with Economic History. This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in Politics and BSc in Politics and 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 inter-relationships between the development of the international economy and the growth of national economies since the late nineteenth century. The course is designed to introduce students not only to a wide variety of topics and issues, but also to the wide variety of approaches used by historians. The course includes analyses of the original leading nation, Britain, and its replacement, the United States, as well as the catch-up of areas such as continental Europe, and the failure to catch-up of earlier well-placed areas such as Latin America. The effects of major events - such as wars and debt crises - are investigated, and we also consider the implications of changing global economic institutions, such as the Gold Standard and IMF, as well as the effects of sometimes rapid changes in product and process technology.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. Lectures will either be recorded or given in the form of live webinars. 

This year, while we are planning for most teaching to be delivered in-person, it is possible that some or all may have to be delivered virtually.  

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write an annotated bibliography, three very short essays and two longer essays during the year.

Indicative reading

The following are particularly useful:

R C Allen, Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (2011).

R Floud, J Humphries & P Johnson (Eds), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, Vol 2 (2014).

B Eichengreen, Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System (2008).

K H O’Rourke and J G Williamson, Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy (1999).

E Jones, L Frost & C White, Coming Full Circle. An Economic History of the Pacific Rim (1993).

M S Blackford, The Rise of Modern Business in the USA, Britain and Japan.

(A complete reading list and class topics will be given out at the first meeting.)


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

While we hope to be in a position to offer in-person assessment, it remains possible that examination for this module will be online.

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: Economic History

Total students 2020/21: 175

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Capped 2020/21: 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