International Economic History since 1750

SAM12 International Economic History since 1750

Spring 2024

Autumn 2024
  • 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 (1918-39) 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 can:


    • Discuss the key characteristics of the international economy, and the drivers change in the international economy, over the last 250 years.
    • Interpret economic models that facilitates the understanding of the international economy and its development over the last 250 years.
    • Apply quantitative techniques to measure and explain economic activity around the world, and its development over the last 250 years.


    • Describe the pattern, causes and consequences of economic activity over the last 250 years, including its growth.
    • Use historical and economic tools to analyse the pattern, causes and consequences of economic activity over the last 250 years, including its growth.
    • Discuss fundamental questions such as "What is a valid question?", "What is a rational argument?, "What is evidence?", "What is causation?".

    General competence

    • Apply 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 the majority of classes. 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.

    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.

    Physical classes are a key component of the educational process. If you cannot attend the majority of classes in person then you will be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to achieving a high level of understanding and a high grade in 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 assignment satisfactorily.

    The assignment must be written in English.

  • Assessment

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

    The exam must be written in English.

    Assessment is only offered in the teaching semester (autumn).

  • 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 background knowledge by reading a general 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.

  • Permitted Support Material


    One bilingual dictionary (Category I) 

    All in accordance with Supplementary provisions to the Regulations for Full-time Study Programmes at the Norwegian School of Economics Ch.4 Permitted support material and  


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Offered Autumn 2023.

Course responsible

Professor Liam Brunt, Department of Economics.