EH218      Half Unit
Chinese Economic History since 1800: Economic Growth in a Historical Perspective

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Melanie Meng Xue SAR 6.12


This course is available as an outside option to students on non-Economic History programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


A background in statistical methods is preferred but not required.

Course content

The course is based on cutting edge research - both articles and book chapters - on a number of topics, including (1) Geography, (2) Institutions, (3) States, (4) Culture, (5) Social Capital, (6) Gender, (7) Human capital, (8) Social Mobility, (9) Trade, (10) Disasters.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Lent Term.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to produce 1 essay during the teaching term.

Indicative reading

  • Deng, Kent, Mapping China’s Growth and Development in the Long Run, 221 BC to 2020 (London: World Scientific Press and Imperial College Press);
  • Richard von Glahn, The Economic History of China: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century Cambridge University Press, 2016;
  • Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, China, Europe and the making of the modern world economy Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2000;
  • Wong, Roy Bin. China transformed: historical change and the limits of European experience. Cornell University Press, 1997

Additional reading

  • Philip A Kuhn (2002). “Origins of the Modern Chinese State”. In: Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2002, 80–113
  • Roy Bin Wong (1997). China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience. Cornell University Press, 1997, Chapter 4
  • Geoffrey Parker (2013). “The ‘Great Enterprise’ in China, 1618–84”. In: Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century. Yale University Press,
  • Avner Greif and Guido Tabellini (2010). “Cultural and institutional bifurcation: China and Europe compared”. American Economic Review 100.2, 135–40
  • Carol H Shiue and Wolfgang Keller (2007). “Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution”. American Economic Review 97.4, 1189–1216


Exam (85%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (15%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Coursework of one take home essays of 1,500 words (inclusive of bibliography and footnotes) to be completed independently by each individual student. The essay should develop arguments, analysis and evidences on a specific research question (or a set of research questions) chosen by the student in consultation with teachers and should be related to the course materials covered. While it is essential to demonstrate one’s grasp of the course material, students are encouraged to develop their own insights and arguments going beyond the course material.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

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