The University of Southampton

ECON1015 Topics in Economic History

Module Overview

The module is a history module taught by the Economics department. It provides an interdisciplinary and non-mathematical approach to the study of British economic development. Key economic concepts will be introduced, but no prior knowledge of economics is assumed. NOTE: This course is different to standard Economics courses. It does not use many economic models or statistical methods. It is similar to History modules. This is because it is taught alongside UOSM2036 which is open to non-Economics students. It does not cover modern Economic History such as the Twentieth Century. The course covers the development of the British economy from the early modern period to the Victorian era. Students are encouraged to weigh up the pros and cons of developments such as enclosure, workhouses, the birth of factories and new consumer products. The course will, like all history courses, require students to consider how historians deal with evidence. There is an optional field trip to Hampshire Record Office. Students will use historical databases as part of their online coursework. The course is taught alongside USOM2036. Students can choose to work with UOSM2036 students if they wish. The module is optional, but can be taken as part of a minor in Applied Economics or Economic History.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module aims to introduce students to the study of economic history. It assumes no prior knowledge of economics or mathematics. It is an interdisciplinary course which focuses upon the various 'revolutions' which led up to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. They are the agricultural revolution, the transport revolution, the financial revolution and the consumer revolution. It also emphasises the roles of slavery, colonisation, the navy and warfare in Britain's development.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of key ideas in the history of economic thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of key debates in economic history
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how economic models and theories can be applied to historical debates
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how economic history is linked to social history
  • Use practical archival skills including document handling
  • Use historical databases effectively
  • Critically evaluate academic texts on economic history


Introduction to the module What is Economic History? Key ideas in the historiography of British economic development Transatlantic Slavery Naval and Maritime Economic History Insurance The Consumer Revolution The Agricultural Revolution The Financial Revolution The Transport Revolution Factories Poverty and Labour Externalities

Special Features

A optional field trip to a Record Office in Hampshire. Students can decide to opt out of this and instead write an individual essay. Students make their own way to the Record Office and can leave when they wish to. Students who have issues with mobility will be able to follow alternative routes around the site. The Record Office is easily accessible. The optional fieldtrip to the Record Office requires students to pay for their travel. This is c. £7 depending on mode of transport. There is no fee to enter the Record Office or to obtain a CARN card for repeated visits. There is no fee for simply making notes by hand. If students wish to photography or photocopy materials, the Record Office does charge. Optional fees: A fee of £12.50 for a day's photography permit. Students may decide to book a workshop. The Record Office charges £6.50 per hour per person or £75 for a group. Photocopying charges vary. All the information about optional charges is on the Record Office website. Students with special dietary needs may bring a packed lunch with them. Visit to Special Collections in the Hartley Library. This is accessible to students as there is a lift. This module is taught alongside UOSM2036 and students from ECON1015 may do a joint project with UOSM students if they wish.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There will be 20 lectures on the UOSM course and up to four extra hours of invited lecturers. There are no seminars. Students will be able to access a range of online resources including videos and training materials. They will be able to attend an archival skills training session. There will be an optional self-guided trip to a Record Office (the students can choose when to visit). Students will be able to choose whether to work individually or whether to work in a group (for some components). If students visit the Record Office, they will follow a structured programme of activities which they can do in their own time. This may be done individually or as part of a group. If students do not wish to go to the Record Office, they must submit an essay of 2000 words on a set economic history question. Students will also have to write a 500 word annotated summary of either a) one article in a hard copy journals or b) one item from Special Collections. This exercise may be done individually or in a group. If students wish to work in groups, they may also work with UOSM2036 students if they want to. UOSM2036 students are likely to have a different skills set and students may benefit from working together.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

The South Sea Bubble. 

Legacies of British Slave-Ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain. 

The Limits of Quantitative Methods in History. American Historical Review. ,80 , pp. 329-350.

The Cambridge World History of Slavery, vol. 3 A.D. 1420-1804. 

Transatlantic Slaving Database. 

Legacies of British slave-ownership. 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’. 

British Capitalism and Caribbean slavery: the legacy of Eric Williams. 

Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press) plus various editions.. 

The making of the English working class. 

Albion’s People: English society, 1714-1815. 


Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain. 

The South Sea Bubble: An economic history of its origins and consequences. 

Discovery catalogue of the National Archives. 

Old Bailey Online. 

Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. 

The Industrial Revolution. 

Whigs and Hunters: the origin of the Black Act. 

Albion’s Fatal Tree: crime and society in eighteenth-century England. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 50%
Field trip 15%
Multiple choice Test 20%
Precis  (500 words) 15%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students are not required to purchase any core texts and may use the library’s resources to find readings.

Travel Costs for placements

Travel to Hampshire Record Office

Fieldwork is optional but there will be transport costs of around £7.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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