Economic Development of East and Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2023/24 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, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development and MSc in Political Science (Global Politics). 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. Students will obtain in-depth knowledge of conditions and paths of economic growth and development in East Asia and Southeast Asia in past centuries, and become engaged in the ongoing scholarly debate.

The first part of the course looks at premodern/traditional economic performance, 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 early modern East Asia and Southeast Asia in the context of 'product-rich economies', and easy access to international trade, and Western colonisation of the region. 

The third part examines modern growth in East Asia and Sourtheast Asia, including the conditions and transformations in post-Opium War China, Meiji Japan, post-WWII 'Asian Tigers', post-WWII independence in Southeast Asia, ASEAN, China under post-Mao reforms, and 'new Asia' in the global economy today.

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


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the AT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the WT. 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 Autumn Term and Winter Term. 

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term and Week 6 of Winter 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).


Take-home assessment (70%) in ST.
Essay (30%, 3500 words).

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2022/23: 23

Average class size 2022/23: 12

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

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