The World Economy in Historical Perspective

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
29 May 2019


Requisites for this module
EC100 or EC111 or IA151 or IA153



Key module for


Module description

EC120 studies the process of economic change from early European overseas trading ventures to the upheavals of the early 21st century. It begins with an overview of global economies before the onset of modern industrialization, focusing on Europe together with China, India and the Ottoman Empire in Asia.

The module goes on to examine how trade, finance and industry developed in Europe culminating in the Industrial Revolution. The second part of the module then studies the spread of industrialization both within and beyond Europe, focusing especially on the role of technological progress and international economic relations (trade, finance and migration). Following an examination of the upheavals of two world wars and the Great Depression in the first half of the 20th century EC120 continues with an overview of the global economy paying particular attention to trade, monetary regimes and governments' policy objectives to the present time.

Module aims

EC120 seeks to understand why the modern world economy takes the form that it does. This involves exploring the forces that have driven economic change since the early 16th century, especially technological change in the context of expanding intercontinental commerce. EC120 aims also to support the development of useful skills in the form of (i) clear, concise and well-organised professional written work; (ii) personal time management, target-setting to achieve a timely completion of essays and other reading assignments, and (iii) reflection on, and response to feedback provided for essays.

Module learning outcomes

Upon completion of EC120, students will have an awareness of the historical roots of the modern world economy. They will be equipped to show how the forces of technological change, international commerce and finance have shaped developments in industrialization and how industrialized economies responded to the upheavals of wars and depression and the challenges of globalization from the late 20th century.

Module information

EC120 is offered at two levels: 4 (first year) and 5 (second year). The only difference is in the assessments: assignments and examinations have different questions to reflect the two levels. Examples may be found in past examination question papers.

Learning and teaching methods

Two lecture hours per week in the Autumn term and in the Spring term. The lectures are prescribed instruction: attendance is compulsory. Some of the lecture hours may be used as seminars and additional class hours may be added as needed. Feedback for EC120 occurs: in classes, where the design and coverage of assignment essays is discussed; in lectures, parts of which are devoted to discussion of the topics being studied; and in academic support hours, which are available each week. Academic support hours are provided to allow individual students, or small groups, to raise specific issues of interest that occur during the module, or to discuss their planning of assignments. In the weeks immediately before the final examination, revision sessions are provided to highlight themes of EC120, and to provide guidance on examination strategy. Students are encouraged to make use of academic support hours at this time to discuss their individual examination strategy and to obtain feedback from their drafts of answers to past examination questions.


  • Eichengreen, Barry J. (2008) Globalizing capital: a history of the international monetary system, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Gregory Clark. (2007) A farewell to alms: a brief economic history of the world, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Findlay, Ronald; O'Rourke, Kevin H. (2007) Power and plenty: trade, war, and the world economy in the second millennium, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. vol. The Princeton economic history of the western world

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1    33.3% 
Coursework   Assignment 2    33.3% 
Coursework   Assignment 3     
Exam  180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Roy Bailey, email:
Prof William Kennedy, email:
Mr Roy Bailey (Au) and Prof William Kennedy (Sp)
For further information send an email message to



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 48 hours, 48 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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