Economic Development of East and Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kent Deng SAR 517


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), 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.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access).  In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply, but that may not continue to be the case.


Knowledge of Asian history of the relevant period and region would be an advantage.

Course content

EH446 is, in nature, a guided reading course.

The course deals with the conditions and paths of economic development in East Asia and Southeast Asia in past centuries. The first part of the course looks at premodern/traditional Asian economic experience, including resource endowments, institutions, technology and economic structures that evolved independently in Asia over time to support a large population with reasonable standards of living. The second part of the course examines modern growth in Asia, including the conditions and timing of economic transformation in post-Tokugawa Japan, the post-WWII ‘Asian Tigers’, ASEAN and Mainland China, as well as the interplay between Asia and the global economy today.

Topics covered include: traditional growth patterns in Asia before the 17th century; the role of the early European maritime traders; the impact of Western colonisation; resistance to change from the core area in the East Asian Mainland; reforms and modernisation in Asia; Asia and post-WWII globalisation.

Main debates in scholarship are included as the course moves on.


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, 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.  Lectures will either be recorded or given in the form of live webinars.

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 G Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age (1998);

• K Pomeranz, The Great Divergence (2000);

• J M Hobson Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy (2021);

• World Bank, The East Asian Miracle (1993);

• I Brown, Economic Change in Southeast Asia (1997).

• Rui H and P. Nolan, Globalisation, Transition and Development in China (2004).


Online take-home exam (2 weeks, ST) 70%.
Essay (30%, 3500 words).

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: 34

Average class size 2020/21: 17

Controlled access 2020/21: 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