Economic Growth: historical perspectives on technological change

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
22 January 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The module focuses on the economic history of economic growth and technical change centred on the 'second industrial revolution' and stemming from the advances in the latter part of the 19th century. Beginning with an overview of global patterns of growth to the early 21st century, EC203 introduces macroeconomic approaches to long-run growth, in particular accounting for technological change.

It continues with case studies of key sectors contributing to technical progress, including electricity, chemicals, in the late 19th century through to Information and Communications Technology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Module aims

The module seeks to explore the implications of technological change in advanced industrialised economies. It takes a historical perspective, aiming to show how key sectors of change in the economy contribute to the development of new technologies and, over time, to changes in aggregate output and economic well-being.

The module also aims to support the development of useful skills in the form of

1. clear, concise and well-organised professional written work;
2. personal time management, target-setting to achieve a timely completion of essays and other reading assignments, and
3. reflection on, and response to feedback provided for essays.

Module learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module, students will have an appreciation of the main patterns of technological advances from the mid-19th century to the present, in relation with economic growth in key sectors of the modern economy. Students will be able to show how aggregate technological changes are measured and interpreted in the context of modern theories of economic growth

Module information

The module is offered at two levels: 5(second year) and 6 (third year). The only difference is in the assessments: assignments and examinations have different questions to reflect the two levels.

Learning and teaching methods

Two lecture hours per week in the Spring Term. Some of the lecture hours may be used as seminars and additional class hours will be added as needed. Two hours in the Summer term are devoted to revision before the final examination. Feedback for EC203 occurs: in classes, where the design and coverage of assignment essays is discussed; in lectures, parts of which are devoted to seminars discussing 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 EC203, 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 sample examination questions.


  • Joel Mokyr. (1990) 'Understanding Technological Progress', in The lever of riches: technological creativity and economic progress, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.151-192
  • Nicholas Crafts; Kevin O'Rourke. (2005) 'Twentieth Century Growth', in Handbook of economic growth, Amsterdam: Elsevier. vol. 22, pp.263-346

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.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


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



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 25 hours, 25 (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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