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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2019/2020

Economic History since 1900

Area of studies: International Relations
When: 4 year, 3, 4 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Andrey A. Iserov
Language: English
ECTS credits: 6

Course Syllabus


The course introduces students to the main topics of the global economic history from the early twentieth century to present. Discussion points include such issues as capitalism, socialist alternative(s), Nazi economy, welfare state, globalization.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • 1. To understand the development of the main modern European, American and Asian economies. 2. To develop an appreciation for the economic effects on political, and social processes. 3. To study in relevant details theoretical concepts and challenges underpinning the study of economic history since 1900. 4. To identify and select the sort of data that is needed to do this, and how to assess how much data is needed to make valid judgement. 5. To have a working familiarity with the most current research topics in economic history.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Be familiar with the main subject of the course
  • To understand how economic growth is transferred from one economy to another
  • To examine the development of modern industry by World War I
  • how technical change affects the economy
  • To learn what the benefits to economic growth and international trade of fixed versus fluctuating exchange rates are
  • To explain what the benefits to economic growth and international trade of fixed versus fluctuating exchange rates are
  • To analyze how the effects of relatively free labor mobility (migration) compare with the effects of controls on mobility
  • To analyze how relatively free capital mobility and controls on capital flows compare
  • To explain why the ability of a country to ‘catch up’ the economic growth of other countries is affected by the ‘social capabilities’ (the underlying conditions) in the country
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Course introduction
    This is an introduction to the course.
  • International trade and economic growth
    We examine what we call ‘modern economic growth’ – a relatively recent phenomenon. We see why it started in Europe and how it has spread from one country to another. This introduces the concept of economic ‘catch up’.
  • The development of an international economy by 1900: trade, capital and labor
    We explain how movements of capital, labor and goods created the international economy and how trade was related to the growth of world output. We examine the development of modern industry, including an explanation of why both assembly-line production and the business corporation first developed in the USA.
  • Institutions that underpinned the international economy before the First World War.
    We look at the main economic institutions of the pre-First World War period. We explain why these were characteristics of the period before the First World War and not after.
  • The development of modern industry
    We consider why Britain remained the most important player in the international economy even though it was no longer the largest economy.
  • Britain – trade and empire
    We examine the economic advantages of colonies to the colonial powers. We also discuss colonial development and see how far being a colony inhibited development.
  • The First World War and the international economy
    We examine the long and short-run effects of the First World War on trade and international finance. This introduces the idea of a war economy and how it differs from a peacetime economy. Then we look at the medium- run consequences of the war, in particular the reasons for the poor performance of the international economy after 1918.
  • The world economic and financial crisis, 1929-33
    We look at the international economic crisis of 1929–33. We examine the spread of the crisis through the world economy, its causes, and why it was not possible to use (macro) economic policy to contain it. We explain why the Depression was more serious in some countries than in others, why the rate of recovery was also different and why national economies recovered faster from the Depression than the international economy. We also discuss the changes in economic theory and their influence on economic policy.
  • Government intervention, recovery and the international economy in the 1930s
    We look at the economic history of the Second World War, particularly the successes and failures of the main economies. We look once more at the nature of war economies and the relationship between the economy and strategy.
  • The war economies, 1939-45
    We examine the development of the international monetary system and of international economic cooperation in the post war years (1945–52). We discuss the changes to the Bretton Woods agreements and why the agreements took a long time to implement. Then we look at the development of the international monetary system in the later twentieth century, including the end of fixed exchange rates and the change to the floating exchange rate system of the late twentieth century. We analyze the causes and effects of the oil crises.
  • International monetary relations since 1944
    We look at the reasons why economic growth was so fast in the major European economies up to the early 1970s and why growth rates then fell. We discuss why some economies have grown faster than others. Then we look at the growth of the European Economic Community. We look at changes in economic policy in the post-war period, particularly the end of the Keynesian consensus and the fashion for ‘supply-side economics’ in the United States and Britain.
  • Economic growth in western Europe since 1950
    We consider Japanese industrial performance, particularly the position of Japan in the world motor industry since the Second World War, showing how Japanese innovations and industrial organisation contrasted with American.
  • The American economy since 1960: supply-side economics
    We explain ‘deindustrialization’ and why services have become more important than manufacturing in national economies.
  • Technology and deindustrialization
    We show the development of industrial technology from the early factory system through mass production to the flexible production systems of today.
  • International trade and developing countries in the late 20th century
    We try to answer the question: is economic growth easier or harder to transfer to poorer countries in the twenty-first century compared with the twentieth century? This returns us to the relationship between trade and development with which we started the module.
  • Japan and China
    We show how China developed into the most important manufacturing country in the world and how Japan developed extremely fast but in recent years development has stalled.
  • The financial crisis of 2008
    We show the main causes of the recent financial crisis, and how it spread from one country to another.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Seminar activities
  • non-blocking Mock Exam I
  • non-blocking Final Exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.25 * Final Exam + 0.25 * Mock Exam I + 0.5 * Seminar activities


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Kenwood, A. G., Lougheed, A. L., & Graff, M. (2013). Growth of the International Economy, 1820-2015 (Vol. [Fifth edition]). New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=631925

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Aldcroft, D. H. (2002). The European Economy 1914-2000 (Vol. 4th ed). London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=69139
  • Blackford, M. G. (2008). The Rise of Modern Business : Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Japan, and China. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=441912