EH438      Half Unit
History of Financial Markets

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Albrecht Ritschl


This course is available on the MSc in Financial History. This course is not available as an outside option.


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 LT.

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).

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half 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

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