International Economic History from 1750 to the Present

SAM12 International Economic History from 1750 to the Present

Spring 2023

  • Topics

    The central theme of the course is the development of the modern world economy. For the early period (1750-1914) we consider the development of modern systems of production and the increase in international flows of goods, labour, capital and technology. For the inter-war period we examine the breakdown in the international economy and national responses to it. For the post-World War II period we track the establishment of domestic and international institutions and their impact on global growth.

  • Learning outcome

    Upon completion of the course, students will:


    • Know the key characteristics, and drivers, of international economic development over the last 250 years.
    • Be familar with appropriate economic models that facilitate understanding of international economic development over the last 250 years
    • Be familiar with appropriate quantitative techniques to measure and explain international economic development over the last 250 years


    • Be able to describe - from an economic persepective - the pattern, causes and consequences of long run economic growth over the last 250 years.
    • Be able to analyse - using historical and economic tools - the pattern, causes and consequences of long run economic growth over the last 250 years.
    • Develop their higher cognitive skills by considering fundamental questions such as "What is a valid question?", "What is a rational argument?, "What is evidence?", "What is causation?".

    General competence

    • Develop relevant study skills, works habits and forms of oral and written communication.

  • Teaching

    This is designed to be a case-based course that revolves around class discussion. All students are expected to participate actively in each class. Participation is a requirement in order be eligible to take the final exam. Students are encouraged to work in small groups to prepare for each class in advance. Each week, every group member should read the case and (at least) one of the items on the reading list and then discuss it with the rest of the group. In this way, all - or most - of the reading materials assigned each week will be covered by every group. The group can use this discussion to prepare their responses to the accompanying assignment questions, which we will discuss in class.

    In line with NHH policy, we expect in-person classes to be the norm from August 2022 onwards. There will be no digital or hybrid alternative provided for this course unless circumstances change drastically and a new NHH policy requires us to privde a digital alternative. Students who find that they unexpectedly cannot attend a significant number of classes - due to illness, for example - will be required to submit a piece of written work in lieu of physical participation in order to take the exam.

  • Recommended prerequisites

    There is no recommended prior knowledge for this course.

    Around half the students are typically foreign, so their knowledge base is extremely varied. Thus we make sure to explain all the theoretical and empirical material that we use on the course.

  • Required prerequisites

    There are no pre-requisites for this course.

  • Compulsory Activity

    In order to be eligible to take the final exam, students must EITHER participate actively in class OR complete a written assigment satisfactorily.

    The assignment must be written in English.

  • Assessment

    A written three-hour home exam, where candidates choose to write answer three questions from a selection of approximately ten questions.

    The exam must be written in English.

  • Grading Scale


  • Computer tools

    No computer requirements

  • Literature

    The course is centred on a portfolio of historical cases produced by the Harvard Business School.

    Relevant complementary research papers (freely available) are assigned for each class.

    Students may also wish to broaden their knowledge by reading a textbook such as:

    M. Graff, A.G. Kenwood & A.L. Lougheed, The growth of the international economy 1820-2015, London (Routledge) 2014.

    R. Cameron & L. Neal, A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present, New York (Oxford University Press) 2003. Chapterl 1 and 6 to 16.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language
Autumn 2022: English.

Autumn. Offered Autumn 2022.

Course responsible

Professor Liam Brunt, Department of Economics.