Not available in 2021/22
EH438      Half Unit
History of Financial Markets

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Albrecht Ritschl


This course is available on the MSc Financial History. 


Some knowledge of statistics is useful but not strictly required.

Course content

This course explores the historical evolution of financial markets from the early times to the present. It covers the origins of securitisation and the gradual spread of financial asset tradability in different parts of the world. We analyse the gradual deepening of financial markets with the emergence of major stock exchanges in the Early Modern period. We study the rise of stock markets and the emergence of secondary markets for sovereign debt from the 18th to the 20th century. With these financial innovations came financial bubbles, crises, and crashes. We delve into the ongoing debates about their causes and origins. The course provides a long run perspective on important questions about the efficiency of financial markets, their international integration as well as their regulation and de-regulation. It also presents a historical comparison of the emerging market crises of the late 20th century, as well as the financial crisis of 2008.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 essay in the MT.

Students will be encouraged to form and work in groups, and to briefly present joint slide sets on the reading and the class question every week so as to continually obtain feedback. The formative essay topic will typically be chosen from one of the presentations and deepen one aspect further.

Indicative reading

  • Aliber, R., & Kindleberger, C. P. (2015). Manias, panics and crashes: A history of financial crises. Palgrave.
  • De Roover, R. (1974). Business, banking, and economic thought in late medieval and early modern Europe. University of Chicago Press.
  • Ferguson, N. (2008). The ascent of money. A financial history of the world. Penguin.
  • Neal L. (2015). A concise history of international finance. Cambridge University Press.
  • Rogoff, K. and C. Reinhart (2009). This time is different: eight centuries of financial folly. Princeton University Press.
  • Talib, N.N. (2007). Black Swan. The impact of the highly improbable. Random House.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours).

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills