The Origins of Growth

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Neil Cummins SAR 5.13


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History and BSc in Economics with Economic History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course explores the origins of modern economic growth through major themes such as life, love, death, place and inheritance. The focus is on the world's first breakthrough in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. Students will be exposed to frontier debates in economic history. Widespread use is made of intuitive econometrics, interdisciplinary insights and historical context.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. 

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

Formative coursework

During the course students are expected to write four essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

Clark, Greg. A Farewell to Alms (2007). Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel (1997). Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of our Nature (2011). Clark, Greg, Neil Cummins et al. The Son also Rises (2014). Allen, Robert. The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (2009). Piketty, Capital in the Twentieth Century (2014).


Exam (90%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Class participation (10%) in the MT, LT and ST.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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