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Insegnamento a.a. 2022-2023


Dipartimento di Scienze sociali e politiche / Department of Social and Political Sciences

Per la lingua del corso verificare le informazioni sulle classi/
For the instruction language of the course see class group/s below

Vai alle classi / Go to class group/s: 21 - 22

BIEF (6 cfu - I sem. - OBBC  |  SECS-P/12)
Docente responsabile dell'insegnamento / Course Director:

Classes: 21 (I sem.) - 22 (I sem.)

Class group/s taught in English

Lezioni della classe erogate in presenza

Mission & Content Summary

Why are some countries rich while others are poor? Since the publication of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, the sources of global inequality have been a key subject in economics. As Robert Lucas has famously claimed, once we start thinking about them, ‘it is hard to think about anything else’. This makes the study of economic development over the long run relevant for economics and the social sciences alike. Economic history introduces tools and methods of describing and analyzing growth and development and it helps students develop critical thinking by demonstrating the complexities of economic change in the real world.


The course offers an overview of economic development from the late Middle Ages to the present by focusing on factors that explain the industrialization and increased prosperity of the western world. The first part of the course concentrates on the origins of western economic supremacy, industrialization, and the making of the global economy. In the second part, we discuss the economic consequences of global events in modern history, such as the world wars, the Great Depression, the oil shocks, and the rise of global competition in and outside the western world.


The course covers the following topics:

  1. Part I
    • The origins of economic development
    • Preindustrial economies
    • The Industrial Revolution
    • Industrial economies
    • The first age of globalization
  2. Part II
    • Economic development after World War I
    • Depression and deglobalization
    • Economic development after World War II
    • The new age of globalizaiton

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify the main forces of economic development throughout modern history.
  • Explain economic change in a complex and comparative perspective.
  • Discuss the impact of major historical events, such as the world wars, or the Great Depression, on economic development.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify the aims and limitations of simple economic measurement.
  • Apply basic economic theory to empirical evidence.
  • Summarize complex narrative interpretations.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures

The teaching method of this course is based on lectures and class discussions. The lectures aim both to convey basic knowledge and develop narratives from evidence presented in the course readings. Lecturers encourage student participation by discussing the texts that students are asked to read in advance of each class.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x

    The course assessment does not distinguish between attending and non-attending students. Students are assessed by written examination only and can choose between two methods. Two partial exams during the midterm and at the end of term test students on their knowledge on the first and second part of the course material respectively and focus on both course readings and class discussions. The questions of the written exam are class specific to reflect differences between classes in the focus of class discussions. The general exam tests students on their knowledge of all course material and focus on course readings only. Both the partial and general exams consist of both closed questions (chronological order and multiple choice) and open questions. Students who fail or do not attend either of the partial exams have to take the general exam to complete the course.

    Teaching materials

    The course material is the same for both attending and non-attending students and is assessed in both the partial and general exams. Classes in BIEM (15-18) and classes in BIEF (21-22) cover the same main topics but use different teaching material.


    The main text in Classes 15-18 is Amatori, Franco and Andrea Colli (eds.), The Global Economy: A Concise History, Routledge. The textbook is available in print in the Bocconi bookshop, but students have free access to the full text online through the Bocconi Library Catalogue.


    Classes 21-22 will use a selection of chapters from different international textbooks, which are all accessible full text online through the Bocconi Library Catalogue.


    The course syllabus will describe the teaching material in detail, organized by topic and class.

    Last change 07/06/2022 14:35