EC123-Globalisation and the History of Western Capitalism

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: EC113 Introductory Microeconomics and EC114 Introductory Macroeconomics
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Mark Casson


Type of module:

Summary module description:
Globalisation has been a major influence on the economic growth of the Western World (Europe and North America), It encourages international trade and investment and creates mass markets; it also stimulates economic migration, foreign investment and technological innovation. But the world has been globalised before – in the Age of High Imperialism, 1870-1914. Antecedents of globalisation can even be detected in the Age of Discovery, c.1450-1600.

This course examines how the world economy ‘got to where it is today’ by charting the evolution of international economic activity from 1200 to the present. It begins with the development of the great port cities and concludes with a description of the modern ‘networked global village’.

The course provides students with an historical context within which they can understand key aspects of the modern world economy, and differentiate between contingencies - things that have changed over time - and fundamentals - those that have not. The course shows how economic structures and institutions have influenced government policies, and how these polices have influenced (for good and bad) economic growth.

Assessable learning outcomes:
The course emphasises the importance of learning by doing. Students examine current controversies and learn to appreciate the importance of carefully defining key terms such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘capitalism’. They learn about key primary and secondary sources of information on the history of Western economies, and how to evaluate them critically. They acquire the skill to search for evidence on their own initiative; much of the evidence is available on the web in digitised form (either print or picture). Students also learn to appreciate the importance of economic theory and statistical technique in interpreting evidence they have collected for themselves.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

The course is delivered through 10 two hour lectures which explore the sequence of historical revolutions that have made the world economy what it is today.  Topics include, but are not limited to: Growth, income and equality in the modern global economy; Reformation, renaissance and the growth of trade; the Industrial Revolution; the rise of modern management; the emergence of boom and bust.  

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures introduce key concepts and topics that are further developed in student-led seminar groups.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 5
Guided independent study 75
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:
There is no final examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Assessment is by written coursework in the form of a 1,500 word essay.

Formative assessment methods:
Seminars provide a key vehicle for discussion and formative feedback. Instant feedback is provided by peers and seminar leader.

Assessment is based entirely on a 1500-word essay. It is submitted in the last week of the Easter vacation. The essay topic is:

‘Consider a country of your choice (NOT UK or US). Compare its recent economic performance with that of other countries. Assess the impacts of physical geography, institutions, and cultural legacy on its performance. Which of these impacts has been most important?’

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A minimum weighted mark of 40%.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-assessment of all modules takes place in August/September of the same year.

    Re-assessment will be on the basis of one further written assignment. The essay for re-assessment is required to be submitted in August. 

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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