Insegnamento a.a. 2023-2024


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLEAM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - CLEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - CLEACC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BESS-CLES (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - WBB (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BIEF (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BIEM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BIG (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BEMACS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12) - BAI (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

There are no prerequisites for taking this course, but students who have never taken economic history at university level may wish to read Robert C. Allen, Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press. This short textbook is available electronically through the Bocconi Library catalog, is part of the course readings, but it also serves as a useful introduction into the subject.

Mission & Content Summary


Globalization defines nearly every aspect of our lives. Education, work, entrepreneurship, innovation, trade and finance all have global dimensions, which today we take for granted. Students at Bocconi live and study within a global environment and learn of important aspects of globalization. Recent years have been a dramatic demonstration of the power and inevitability of globalization. The mission of this elective course is to make students better understand how our interconnected global economy emerged historically and how global trade and competition transformed economies and societies around the world. We will learn that globalization has not been a one-way street and that modern history witnessed periods of both increasing and diminishing globalization. The course aims to provide students with the tools for understanding economic change in a historical and global perspective. The teaching material will help students develop critical thinking and narrative skills.


In this elective course, we examine through ten topics how the global economy emerged in the past and how global trade and competition shaped economic development around the world. The first part of the course traces the connection between western expansion and the rise of the global economy from the 16th to the 19th century and explains what factors - social, cultural, and technological - limited early globalization. We study how growing prosperity in Europe compared with the development of other world regions. The second part of the course discusses globalisation and deglobalization in the modern era and the shifts of global economic power they brought about. We teach modern economic history in a global context and focus mainly on non-European regions. The syllabus covers the following topics:


Part 1

  • The origins of globalisation
  • The Atlantic economy
  • The Asian empires
  • The rise of the West  
  • War and revolution


Part 2

  • European hegemony 
  • American leadership
  • Latin America: catching up and falling behind
  • The rise of the East
  • The poverty of the South

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify the main forces of globalization and the economic and social consequences of globalization
  • Explain the historical origins of the global economy and differences in the impact of globalization between different world regions
  • Discuss economic development in a historical and global perspective


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify key facts and trends in global economic history
  • Understand the role of the social and institutional context in economic development
  • Summarize complex narrative interpretations
  • Develop critical thinking
  • Develop skills in academic writing

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Individual assignments


The lectures are designed to engage students on the course topics and to help them summarize and understand the content of the course readings. In their individual assignments, student write a critical book review. The assignment requires each student to read a major scholarly work on one of the course topics and to demonstrate how well they can make a critical assessment of complex narratives and the types of evidence economic historians examine. The course director provides guidelines on the assignment, but students prepare their individual assignments independently outside class time.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


The assessment methods do not distinguish between attending and non-attending students, but students can choose between two forms of assessment: coursework and general exam. Assessment by coursework comprises one written examination at the end of the semester (worth 80% of the final grade) and an indeividual assignment that students prepare independently during the semester outside class time (worth 20% of the final grade). The individual assignment is a critical book review. The written examination includes essay questions on all course topics, but it allows students to specialise by selection from a list of alternative questions. The general exam consists of open-answer questions covering all course topics and based on all course readings.

Teaching materials


All course readings will be listed by topic in the course syllabus. The two main textbooks used in the course are:


Robert C Allen (2011), Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press.


Pim De Zwart and Jan-Luiten Van Zanden (2018), The Origins of Globalization: World Trade in the Making of the Global Economy, 1500–1800. Cambridge University Press.


Both textbooks and all other completemntary readings used in the course are freely accessible to students either through the Bocconi Library Catalog or on the Blackboard course page. Students will not have to buy any textbooks.

Last change 19/07/2023 17:08