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EC104-30 The World Economy: History & Theory

Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Claudia Rei
Credit value
Module duration
20 weeks
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module explains how the world economy got to be where it is today, focusing on the success and failure of several key countries and regions, measured by the long-term changes in income and population. Students will complete the module with a strong understanding of the evolution of the world economy as well as the use of theory and empirical analysis in economics research, while developing analytical and writing skills.

Module web page

Module aims

In this module, students will acquire a broad understanding of the development of the world economy over the last millennium up until today. Students will take the long view of changes in global income and population, and critically examine the forces that explain the economic success of some regions and the obstacles that have hindered economic advance in others. Students will scrutinise the interaction between rich countries and the rest of the world, and consider the role of domestic issues and foreign policy on economic outcomes. Students will complete this module with a strong understanding of the evolution of the world economy as well as the use of theory and empirical analysis in economics research. There are also opportunities to pursue areas of individual interest.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The module will discuss a selection of topics. The following list is indicative.

  • Introduction and Pre-Modern Growth: pre-1500
  • Early Modern Period: 1500-1750
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1750-1850
  • Industrialization and Living Standards: 1750-1850
  • The Second Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the United States: 1850-1900
  • Globalisation and Colonization: 1870-1914
  • The Interwar Period:1914-1945
  • Postwar Recovery and Decolonization: 1945-1979
  • Economic Reform: 1979-2001
  • The Contemporary World Economy: 2001-present
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Subject Knowledge and Understanding:...demonstrate a familiarity with knowledge and basic understanding of: (i) the evolution of the world economy during the last millennium and specialist knowledge some areas of this that the student finds particularly interesting. (ii) Economic information: Knowledge of specific economic trends and patterns; understanding of particular problems and solutions in economic measurement. (iii) Research issues: Familiarity with contemporary empirical debates and latest research in some areas of economics. Understanding of how to approach an economic problem from the perspective of a contemporary researcher in economics.
Indicative reading list

Please see Talis Aspire link for most up to date list.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Analytical thinking and communication
Analytical reasoning
Critical thinking
Strategic thinking
Analysis of incentives

Transferable skills

Research skills
Numeracy and quantitative skills
Data-based skills
IT skills
Written communication skills
Oral communication skills
Team work skills

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 20 sessions of 2 hours (13%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Private study 251 hours (84%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Private study will be required in order to prepare for seminars/classes, to review lecture notes, to prepare for forthcoming assessments, tests, and exams, and to undertake wider reading around the subject.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group C4
Weighting Study time
Assessment 1 (1200 words) 20%

Group piece of work

Assessment 2 (1200 words) 20%

Group piece of work.

Seminar Participation 10%

An active participation in seminars engaging in debates and answering questions.

Online Examination 50%

A paper which examines the course content and ensures learning outcomes are achieved. Students will have 24 hours in which to complete this paper. 1000-1500 word limit on answers.

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
  • Students may use a calculator
Assessment group R2
Weighting Study time
Online Examination - Resit 100%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

The Department of Economics is committed to providing high quality and timely feedback to students on their assessed work, to enable them to review and continuously improve their work. We are dedicated to ensuring feedback is returned to students within 20 University working days of their assessment deadline. Feedback for assignments is returned either on a standardised assessment feedback cover sheet which gives information both by tick boxes and by free comments or via free text comments on tabula, together with the annotated assignment. For tests and problem sets, students receive solutions as an important form of feedback and their marked assignment, with a breakdown of marks and comments by question and sub-question. Students are informed how to access their feedback, either by collecting from the Undergraduate Office or via tabula. Module leaders often provide generic feedback for the cohort outlining what was done well, less well, and what was expected on the assignment and any other common themes. This feedback also includes a cumulative distribution function with summary statistics so students can review their performance in relation to the cohort. This feedback is in addition to the individual-specific feedback on assessment performance.

Past exam papers for EC104


A-level Maths or A-level Economics


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UECA-3 Undergraduate Economics 3 Year Variants

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of UECA-3 Undergraduate Economics 3 Year Variants
  • Year 1 of UECA-LM1D Undergraduate Economics, Politics and International Studies
  • Year 1 of UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics

This module is Option list B for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 1 of L305 Sociology with Specialism in Cultural Studies
    • Year 1 of L303 Sociology with Specialism in Gender Studies
    • Year 1 of L304 Sociology with Specialism in Research Methods
    • Year 1 of L302 Sociology with Specialism in Social Policy