There is a choice of assignments: either an essay OR a book review, both have the same word count of 2000 words and are worth 15% of the module assessment



  1. What role (if any) does Eurocentric bias play in any discussion of the Great Divergence between western and non-western economies?
  • M. Blaut, Eight Eurocentric Historians (London: Guildford Press, 2000), chapters 1 (Introduction), 10-11 (Conclusion). Chapters on following historians: 2 (Weber), 8 (Diamond), 9 (Landes) – choose 2 of them at least
  • Niall Ferguson, Civilization, conclusion
  • David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, chapter 24


Additional material if required:

·        Sanjay Seth, ‘Historical Sociology and Postcolonial Theory: Two Strategies for Challenging Eurocentrism’, International Political Sociology, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 334–338 (September 2009)

·        Peer Vries, ‘The California School and Beyond: How to Study the Great Divergence?’ History Compass, Volume 8, Issue 7, pp. 730–751 (July 2010)

  • You can – if you find it useful – make use of the book review chapters of Morris, Pomeranz and Wong.


  1. How valid are Fogel and Engerman’s arguments that slavery was not as harsh a system as was usually thought? To what extent does their view explain why the slaves did not rebel?
  • Jeremy Atack & Peter Passell, A New Economic View of American History, chapters 11 and 12
  • Hughes and Cain, American Economic History, chapter 10
  • Mark M. Smith, Debating Slavery. Economy and society in the antebellum American South, chapters 5 and 6

Read some of the original text that started the controversy:

  • Robert Fogel & Stanley L. Engerman, Time on the Cross. The Economics of American Negro Slavery, chapter 4


Additional material:

  • Peter J. Parish, History and Historians, chapter 4





  1. ‘Import Substitution Industrialisation was an engine of growth for Latin American economies from the 1930s to the 1970s’. Discuss.
  • Baer, W. (1972) ‘Import Substitution and Industrialization in Latin America: Experiences and Interpretations’, Latin American Research Review, 7 (1), 95-122.
  • Debowicz, D., Segal, P. (2014) ‘Structural Change in Argentina, 1935–1960: The Role of Import Substitution and Factor Endowments’, The Journal of Economic History, 74 (1), 230 – 258.
  • Taylor, A.M. (1998) ‘On the Cost of Inward-Looking Development: Price Distortions, Growth and Divergence in Latin America’, The Journal of Economic History, 58 (1), 1-28.


Additional material:

  • Gereffi, G., Wyman, D. L. (eds) (1990) Manufacturing Miracles: Paths of Industrialization in Latin America and Asia. Princeton University Press.


  1. Who offers the most accurate analysis of modern Russian economic development up to 1917 – Robert Allen or Paul Gregory?
  • Robert C. Allen, Farm to Factory, chapter 2
  • Paul R. Gregory, Before Command, chapter 2
  • W. Davies, Soviet Economic Development from Lenin to Khruschev, chapter 2

Additional Reading:

  • M.E. Falkus, The Industrialisation of Russia 1700-1914, chapter 9
  • Paul Gregory & Robert Stuart, Soviet and Post-Soviet Economic Structure and Performance, chapter 2 [Similar to the Gregory reference above]
  • Alec Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, chapter 1


  1. How has the use of quantitative evidence and macro-economic measurement enriched the tools available to economic historians? What problems have such approaches and methods posed?
  • C. Coleman, History, ‘History, economic history and the numbers game’, The Historical Journal, Volume 38, Issue 03, September 1995, pp 635 – 646
  • Nick Crafts, ‘Quantitative Economic History’, LSE Working Papers, No. 48, (January 1999)
  • Pat Hudson, History by Numbers (New York: Bloomsbury 2010), chapters 1, 8


Additional Reading:

  • F. R. Crafts, ‘Cliometrics, 1971-1986: A Survey’, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1987), pp. 171-192
  • H. Lee, The Quantitative Approach to Economic History (London: Martin Robertson, 1977), chapters 2, 4
  • Donald McCloskey, Econometric History (Houndmills: Macmillan: 1987), ch. 4
  • Colin M White, ‘The Concept of Social Saving in Theory and Practice’, Economic History Review, Vol. 29, Number 1, (1976), pp. 82-100




For this OPTION, I would like you to undertake a REVIEW of chapters or part of a book that has relevance for the overall course. A review involves a critical engagement with the article or chapter; in part it involves a brief outline of the material covered (the descriptive element) but, more importantly, it also requires a critical/ analytical element where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. A review that is merely descriptive will not get more than 60% – however well it is presented. It is analysis that brings higher marks – but of course you need to bring together both elements for a balanced review. I have made available copies of the pieces so take a while to look through them and choose one you would like to review. I will be adding some other sources you may find useful – on reviews (good ways to write them) and some actual reviews of the authors covered. You may wish to look at reviews in different contexts as part of your research – i.e. film (e.g. the work of the late Roger Ebert on the rotten tomatoes website), music reviews, book reviews – and by googling the authors of the reviews I have listed, you will find a number of useful sources. These can all be good background, but overall the review needs to be your own work but please feel free to consult widely. I do not want to read cut and paste versions of other people’s reviews. I have added some examples to guide you. The word length required is 2000 words and you must provide a bibliography of sources and footnote any references.



  • DARON ACEMOGLU & JAMES ROBINSONWhy Nations Fail, chapters 5 and 9
  • ROY BIN WONGChina Transformed, Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2
  • NIALL FERGUSONCivilisation, Introduction and Chapter 1
  • ANDRE GUNDER FRANKReOrient, Chapter 1 and Chapter 6
  • MORTEN JERVEN, Why Economists Get it Wrong, Introduction, Chapter 1 & Conclusion
  • CHRISTOPHER LASCH, The True and Only Heaven. Progress and its Critics: Chapters 1 and 2
  • IAN MORRISWhy the West Rules for Now, Introduction and Chapter 11
  • PRASANNAN PARTHASARATHIWhy Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not, Introduction, Chapter 2 and Conclusion
  • KENNETH POMERANZThe Great Divergence, Introduction and Chapter 1
  • EDWARD SAIDOrientalism- Review: one of the 3 chapters in the book, the first chapter may be most accessible. There are about 20 copies of the book in various CU libraries including Aberconway, ASSL library and Bute
  • JOSEPH STIGLITZ, Globalization and its Discontents: Chapters 1-3
  • IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN, Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization: Chapters 1 and 2.


Copies of all relevant reading are available on learning central. Assignments for the second semester will be available later







Essays should:


  • Not exceed the word limit of 2,000 words (a 10% margin permitted)



Essays e-mailed (to turnitin) after the submission deadline without a valid reason (e.g. illness) and supportive evidence will be assessed, but will be awarded a mark of zero.



How to write an essay


Essay-writing is best broken down into stages as follows:

1.   Analyse the question: Read the question carefully. Rephrase the question in your own words to make sure that you understand precisely what it asks of you.  If you are in any doubt about the meaning of the question, then ask advice from your tutor.


2.   Read a range of relevant items: You should study (and note) the reading provided on Learning Central, as well as the lecture notes and slides.  Be very cautious about using other materials available on the web. Information posted on non-academic sites may be misleading and can detract from your work.  Do not reference non-peer reviewed sources such as Wikipedia.  Finally, be aware that essays are checked for plagiarism using the Turnitin package.



3.   Plan and write: Before commencing your essay, think about how you will structure the content.  While there is no ‘set’ way of structuring an essay, the following approach often works well:

  1. Introduction: State the problem/issue your essay will explore. Show your awareness of the context.  For example, if answering a question about rapid population growth during the industrial revolution, then include some data illustrating this growth.  If relevant, define key terms.  Finally, indicate (or ‘signpost’) the direction that your argument will take, although not necessarily what your argument will be.


  1. Main part of the essay: The body of the essay should consist of a series of points, all of which are shown to be related to the question and presented in a logical fashion. State each point clearly, describe your line of reasoning, and provide data or examples to support it. However, be careful to ensure that the essay reads as a coherent whole, not as a list of disconnected points.  There is no need to quote directly from historical works.  Instead, paraphrase the points you want to include and reference back to the work you have summarised.


  1. Conclusion: Make sure that your conclusion flows logically from the body of the essay, and returns to the question being asked. You could briefly summarise your argument and perhaps point out its wider implications.


  1. Review: Once you have written your essay, never submit the first draft. Always read it through carefully, checking for clarity and grammatical errors.  Only submit once you have done this.




Essays should:


  • Be double line spaced.
  • Include a bibliography.
  • Use a recognised referencing system (i.e. the Harvard system or footnotes).




Essays and examinations are marked according to the criteria on the following page. The marks correspond to ‘classes’ of honours degree: first, upper and lower second, third class, and fail. There is no ‘exact’ recipe for a particular mark: two students might write essays with different strengths and weaknesses but be awarded a similar mark.


Marking criteria for economic history.


Class Mark Guide
First 70+ Work of a high quality that demonstrates depth of analysis and knowledge and original thought.  The arguments are coherent and incisive, are focused on the specific question asked, and are well evidenced.  The work is professionally presented and fluently written.
2:1 65-69 A well organised, clearly written and effectively argued work that addresses the question. It demonstrates a broad and perceptive understanding of the historical context. Its solid analysis of relevant material is based on and supported by a range of sources.
60-64 Work that is organised, well presented, and clearly written, with a relevant and assured argument. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the issues under discussion. The work effectively tackles the question and is based upon a range of sources, though not always in a systematic manner.
2:2 55-59 Competent work that demonstrates some understanding of the issues arising from the question, although this may be incomplete. It may be largely relevant but lacks a systematic critical analysis, reproduces material without significant critical judgement, or contains poorly expressed ideas. The work may lack focus and may be overly reliant on lectures.
50-54 Work that demonstrates a satisfactory grasp of some relevant issues and displays a familiarity with basic reading. It lacks systematic analysis and its ideas are poorly expressed. It may be too reliant on lectures, lacks focus, containing errors and important omissions of essential material.
Third 45-49 Poorly focused, disorganised work that lacks analysis. While it demonstrates sufficient knowledge to frame a partial answer to the question, it has only a limited familiarity with relevant material and the historical context.  The work may contain factual errors, badly expressed ideas, and be poorly presented.
  40-44 Poorly focused, unstructured and often incoherent work that demonstrates the minimum of knowledge required to pass. While it frames a partial answer to the question, it is severely hampered by a lack of analysis and unfamiliarity with relevant historical and historiographical material.
Fail 0-39 Work characterised by all or some of the following features, which outweigh any indications of knowledge or understanding: irrelevant content; failure to apply minimal knowledge; ignorance of historical context; serious factual error; conceptual confusion; illogical arguments; incoherence.


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