The University of Southampton

UOSM2036 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. 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 ECON1015. Students can choose to work with ECON1015 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 and nuanced understanding of the reasons behind economic development
  • Use standard statistical software (EXCEL)
  • Use online historical statistics databases
  • Apply archival skills including document handling
  • Critically evaluate how basic economic theories and models can be applied to historical debates


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

Students will be able to handle original documents and can, if they wish, visit a Record Office. They will also be introduced to the use of EXCEL software and encouraged to use it and develop their skills. They will be given training in archival methods. Some of the assessed work requires online multiple choice and some requires use of online historical datasets. The optional Field Trip will allow for document handling and independent research. Students will have to plan their own visit and choose when they wish to go. The cost of transport will be around £7 if they do not use the free shuttle bus. The archival skills training is simply an attendance requirement.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There will be 20 lectures on the UOSM course. Students will also 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 exercisemay be done individually or in a group. If students wish to work in groups, they may also work with ECON1015 students if they want to. ECON1015 students are likely to have a different skills set and students may benefit from working together.

Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Teaching space, layout and equipment required. Large lecture hall needed as the lectures must accommodate UOSM2036 and ECON1015 students

Other library support required. • Special Collections training • Training in referencing methods



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 15%
Examination  (2 hours) 50%
Journal Articles  ( words) 15%
Multiple choice Test 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


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:

Travel Costs for placements

Students do not have to buy a textbook for this course. Around £7 for optional trip to Record Office (travel) If there are any other optional trips planned then travel costs will be stated. (travel)

Optional trip to Record Office: around £7 If there are any other optional trips, then transport costs will have to be paid by the student

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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