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International Economic Growth & Development - ECO00019H

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  • Department: Economics and Related Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Thilo Huning
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

Understanding how and why economic growth and development has (or indeed has not) occurred is fundamental to our understanding of many contemporary issues in economics. To what extent can growth theory shed light on relative performance over time? How can development theories help us understand differences in performance? In particular several key questions are explored: Why was (Western) Europe first? Why has the Chinese economy grown so rapidly in the recent past? What is special about the recent performance of the Indian economy? What insights can we draw from the ‘miracle’ of the growth of the East Asian Tigers in the 1990’s? Do we, and where do we expect African countries to convergence to European income levels? How did the transition from a planned to a market economy impact on the countries of the former Soviet Union?  What explains the between-country differences in Latin America? What explains countries’ resilience to economic crises? Which countries are the rising (and falling) stars in terms of economic growth, what explains their (lack of) potential, and what may come (or came) in their ways?

This module explores key themes in growth and development, giving students an understanding of the crucial themes that impinge on the contemporary world for the individual economies and the international economy. The module applies economic theory, but focuses on deep insight on countries special paths, with an emphasis on their historical development and context. An important feature of the module is that students are introduced to, and expected to work with qualitative and quantitative data.

Each student will undertake a piece of independent empirical research, which is also the only form of summative assessment. This research will be on a specific country or world region, as well as on a specific subject, based on the literature in the reading list of this module, and in the fields of development economics. Students are requested to choose their research topic before week 3 of the Spring term.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The first part of the module will take ‘global issues’ on thematic basis. The first part of the module aims will be:

  • To build on issues covered in the second year module, Development Economics, by an overview of key economic theories explaining relative economic growth over time to draw relevant insights from these theories and apply them to different parts of the world. To consider the components of growth models: namely labour, capital, land, technological change and how separately and together they may explain growth – and lack of it in parts of the world

  • To evaluate the role of states, and the institutional trajectories states took in their respective histories. How did the outside world affect these developments? What was the influence of foreign colonization? What was the influence of international organizations, such as the IMF or the World Bank?

The second and integral part of the module explores relative economic performance taking different parts of the world as case studies. The second part of the module aims:

  • To consider the causes of the Chinese ‘economic miracle’.

  • To consider the unique characteristics of India’s recent growth record.

  • To consider the constraints on economic growth and development in Sub-Saharan Africa with particular reference to ‘geography’ and ‘institutional’ explanations.

  • To evaluate and explore differential performance of economies in South America – including the effects of reform processes and the economic effects of populism.

  • To explain differences in the performance of the Eastern European Transition economies since 1990.

  • To explore the determinants of the ‘East Asian miracle’ and subsequent slow- down in growth.

Module learning outcomes

On completing the module, it is expected that students will have:

  • A greater appreciation of the forces which determine relative economic growth over time.

  • A greater appreciation of how growth theory may yield important insights into our understanding of the performance of the Asian economies, the Transition economies, China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • A greater understanding of institutional constraints as determinants of relative long run growth.

  • Acquired experience of independent empirical research.

  • A deeper understanding of context and historical developments in assessing countries’ growth potential.

Module content

This module considers critical issues and themes in the contemporary international economy. To that extent, the lecture topics and tutorial themes have changed over the years – often in response to student requests and interests. Because of its contemporary nature, it follows that it is imperative that you keep up to date with key websites such as the World Bank and the IMF, but also current economic debates.  This course will focus on a variety of material, provided and updated on an on-going basis on the virtual learning environment (VLE).

Students are asked to supplement this material during independent research on a single world region and/or country.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word final report
N/A 90
Project outline
N/A 10

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3000 word final report
N/A 90

Module feedback

Feedback will be returned to students according to University guidelines.

Indicative reading

Main References:

  • Mitterauer, Michael. Why Europe? : The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path. University of Chicago Press, 2010. 

  • Rubin, Jared. Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West got rich and the Middle East did not. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

  • Pomeranz, Kenneth. The great divergence: China, Europe, and the making of the modern world economy. Princeton University Press, 2009.

  • Engerman, Stanley L., and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. Economic development in the Americas since 1500: endowments and institutions. Cambridge University Press, 2012. 

  • Robinson, James A., and Daron Acemoglu. Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity and poverty. Crown Business, 2012.

  • Akyeampong, E., Bates, R. H., Nunn, N., & Robinson, J. Africa's development in historical perspective. Cambridge University press, 2014. 

  • Cronon, William. Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. WW Norton & Company, 2009.

  • Rodrik, Dani. The globalization paradox: democracy and the future of the world economy. WW Norton & Company, 2011. 

  • Eichengreen, Barry. Hall of mirrors: The great depression, the great recession, and the uses-and misuses-of history. Oxford University Press, 2014.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.