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World Economy

Module Code: ECU44022/ECU44024

Module Title: World Economy : History of the World Economy

  • ECTS Weighting: 10/5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 2
  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures and 4 hours of tutorials
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Professor Ronan Lyons

Module Learning Aims 

The Development of the World Economy module will focus on the historical development of the global economy, from earliest times until the 21st century. The aim is to jointly look at key phases in the development of global economy, in particular waves of integration and disintegration, and the role played by key factors, such as climate, geography, disease and technology. No prior knowledge of econometrics is required for this module, but a willingness to learn how to read, understand and critique academic papers is. Success in this module also depends on a willingness to read voraciously.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will be able to:

  • Outline the major phases in the development of the world economy from earliest times to the present day
  • Explain the role of factors such as climate, geography, disease and technology in the development of the world economy
  • Explain the causes and consequences of flows of people, ideas, goods and capital in various episodes in the development of the world economy
  • Compare key features of different episodes of the world economy, including the Roman/Han, Islamic, Mongol and European-led episodes
  • Discuss in detail the key features in the development of one particular region in the world economy and how that relates to the global picture

Module Content

Depending on time and overall progress, it is envisaged that topics that the module addresses will be drawn from the following list:

  1. The origins of the world economy
  2. The Roman-Han world economy
  3. The Islamic-Tang world economy
  4. The world economy in the time of the Mongols
  5. The world economy after the Columbian Exchange
  6. The world economy under empire and mercantilism
  7. The causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution
  8. Nineteenth century globalization
  9. The world economy between 1914 and 1945
  10. The post-1945 world economy

Recommended Reading List

Detailed readings will be given in lectures and through Blackboard. For the post-1000AD world economy, the best overview is by Findlay and O'Rourke, Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Princeton University Press, 2007). For other periods and regions, specific sources act as a solid introduction, including:

  • The BCE World Economy: James Scott, ‘Against the Grain’, Barry Cunliffe, ‘By Steppe, Desert & Ocean’, David Anthony, ‘The Horse, The Wheel & Language’ and Eric Cline, ‘1177BC’ – for the earliest economies and economic integration, with a focus on the role of the steppe (and geography more generally).
  • The Roman/Han World Economy: Raoul McLaughlin, ‘The Roman Empire & the Silk Routes’ and ‘The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean’, as well as Kyle Harper, ‘The Fate of Rome’
  • The period either side of 1000AD: Brian Fagan, ‘The Great Warming’, Valerie Hansen, ‘The Year 1000’, Robert Lopez, ‘The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages’, and Janet Abu Lughod, ‘Before European Hegemony’.
  • Toby Green, ‘A Fistful of Shells’ (West Africa), Tirthankar Roy, ‘India in the World Economy’, David Abulafia, ‘The Great Sea’ (Mediterranean) and Richard von Glahn, ‘The Economic History of China’, as examples of region-specific overviews covering different time spans.

Module Pre Requisite

ECU22011 and ECU22012 (Intermediate Economics A and B; formerly EC2010 and EC2011)

Assessment Details

The 10-ECTS module is assessed as follows:

  • Review slide deck and presentation (30%)
  • Research proposal (40%)
  • Take-home exam (30%)

The 5-ECTS module is assessed as follows:

  • Review slide deck and presentation (30%)
  • Take-home exam (30%)

Module Website