Not available in 2022/23
The Economic History of North America: from Colonial Times to the Cold War

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Minns SAR 5.12


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History and BSc in Economics with Economic History. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.


Students taking the course as an outside option must have completed at least one other economic history course.

Course content

The course surveys major developments in the economic history of North America between 1600 and 2000. Colonial development; the American Revolution; Early North American Industry; Slavery; Westward expansion; the American Civil War; Regional Economic Development; Railroads and growth; International and internal trade; Finance and banking in the 19th century; Migration and labour markets in the 19th Century' World wars and North American Economies; the Great Depression; Post-war economic development and policy.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. Teaching may be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Term.

Formative coursework

At least one essay and a mock examination.

Indicative reading

Atack and Passell, A New Economic View of American History (1994); Engerman and Gallman, The Cambridge Economic History of the United States, vols 1,2,3 (2000); Hughes, American Economic History (1990); Haines and Steckel (eds.), A Population History of North America. (2000).


Essay (30%, 3000 words) in the MT.
Take-home assessment (70%) in the ST.

The course is assessed via a summative essay in MT (30%) and an online take home exam (70%) in ST.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: 18

Average class size 2021/22: 18

Capped 2021/22: Yes (18)

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