Pre-industrial Economic History
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Jordan Claridge SAR 5.05 and Prof Oliver Volckart SAR 6.10
This course is compulsory on the BSc in Economic History and BSc in Economics and Economic History. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available to General Course students.
This course surveys long-term processes of growth and development in late medieval and early modern Europe (eleventh to eighteenth centuries). It focuses on the transition from a hierarchical society of estates or corporate orders to a market society based on legal equality and freedom of contract. There are two core questions: First, why did this transition occur in an evolutionary way in England and the Netherlands, whereas it was severely delayed the rest of Europe? And second, how is it related to the ‘small divergence’ between the Dutch Republic and England on the one side and most of the Continent on the other, where the North-West enjoyed significantly higher living standards and per capita incomes than other countries long before the onset of industrialisation?
The course thus raises fundamental questions about societies and economies: Was pre-industrial economic growth transitory and regional? Or was it a recurrent, even normal phenomenon, which however could occasionally be reversed? Was Dutch and British success the result of their social and institutional features? Or was it a combination of geographical factors and good fortune? To what degree did early modern governments help or hinder economic development? Did Europe’s political fragmentation hold back the continent’s development, or did competition between states have beneficial consequences? In conclusion, can we define an optimal combination of social, political, and economic institutions that sustained growth in the past (and thus, perhaps, in the future)?
The course has a strong focus on skills training, in particular on essay writing.
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 classes and seminars to be delivered in-person, it is possible that some or all of this teaching may have to be delivered virtually.
This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Term.
Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.
Students are expected to produce two pieces of formative written coursework in the MT. They will give formative presentations on topics that form part of the course content. They will receive structured feedback on their formative coursework.
Anderson, J.L. (1991): Explaining long-term economic change, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press).
Cipolla, C.M. ed. (1971/72). The Fontana economic history of Europe, vols. 1 and 2, London (Fontana).
de Vries, J. (1976). The economy of Europe in an age of crisis, 1600-1750, Cambridge, London, New York etc. (Cambridge University Press).
Hatcher, J. and Bailey, M. (2001): Modelling the Middle Ages. The History and Theory of England’s Economic Development, Oxford (Oxford University Press).
Miskimin, H. (1969). The Economy of Early Renaissance Europe 1300-1460. Englewood Cliffs/NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Miskimin, H. (1977). The Economy of Later Renaissance Europe 1460-1600. Cambridge, London, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Persson, K. G. (2010). An Economic History of Europe: Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, 600 to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Essay (40%, 2000 words) in the LT.
Essay (60%, 3000 words) in the ST.
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.
Department: Economic History
Total students 2020/21: 85
Average class size 2020/21: 15
Capped 2020/21: No
Value: One Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills