2306 Economic History
Kilian Rieder, DPhil
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
10/17/22 to 10/20/22
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
This class is only offered in winter semesters.
Subject(s) Master Programs
Day Date Time Room
Friday 10/28/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 11/04/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 11/11/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 11/18/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 11/25/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 12/02/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04
Friday 12/09/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.3.07
Friday 12/16/22 04:00 PM - 07:15 PM TC.4.04

For the full syllabus for winter semester 2022 and for detailed information on the assignments and how to complete them, go to folder Syllabus located in the course's Learning Activities.

This course argues that economic history is relevant for managers, decision-makers and policy-makers for at least four reasons. First, economic history is important in its own right. As a discipline, it sheds light on important economic and social phenomena that changed the world we live in the most fundamental ways. Second, we often observe that events in the past have long-lasting persistent effects that continue to play a large role today: a solid understanding of the channels behind the phenomenon of historical persistence is crucial to understand our current world. Third, events that happened in the past may harbor important lessons for the design of economic policy and thus the organization/allocation of resources in a firm, a country, a region or even from a global perspective. Fourth, economic history provides an arsenal of events and policies that researchers in business, management and economics can draw upon to test theoretical models and predictions -  in other words, economic history can be a laboratory for testing modern theories in the social sciences.


Learning outcomes

The goal of this course is not to provide students with an exhaustive overview of all important events, topics, questions or debates in economic history. Far from it: rather, the aim is to give students an introduction into economic history as an academic discipline by highlighting its relevance and usefulness for a thorough university education in the social sciences. 

Attendance requirements

Continuous assessment courses (PI) are high-interactive courses. Should there be an important reason for a student's absence during a session of the course, a maximum of two sessions can be missed. According to the examination regulations of the WU, important reasons are those which are outside the disposition of the student (illness, accident, death of a close relative). Professional obligations are not considered as an important reason within the meaning of the examination regulations, because they are in the disposition of the students. A confirmation/justification (eg. a medical certificate) must be provided for each absence. Overall, students must attend at least 5 out of 7 sessions to obtain a final grade. In the case a student is absent on more than two occasions, the course must be repeated. 

Teaching/learning method(s)

The organization and programme of this course reflects these four reasons to study economic history. The course thus features readings and lectures on four parts, each with several sub-themes (c.f. detailed session programme further below and in the full syllabus):

  1. Economic history as important in its own right
  2. Historical persistence
  3. (Policy) lessons from history
  4. Economic history as a laboratory

This course will be held in seven sessions (3 hours each - but we'll do breaks!). COVID-19-permitting we will meet weekly, in person. In case the pandemic takes a tighter grip, we will switch to Zoom. For admin purposes, there will be several folders on Learn@WU. The "Readings" folder contains the relevant papers for each session (including the texts relevant for your presentations and quizzes, c.f. below). In the File Storage ("Dateiablage") section on Learn@WU you'll find two further folders. First, the "Material sharing" folder is for you: you can use this space to share material (related to the course content) with your colleagues - sharing is completely voluntary but I highly recommend it because it is very useful to see and read how your peers approach lecture topics and questions. Second, the "Presentation slides" folder is the folder into which you will have to upload the presentation slides.  

This course will consist of four core elements. First, each session (except the first) will feature a short, non-technical quiz on the required readings. Second, each session (except the first session) will feature two presentations by teams of students and subsequent plenary discussions of the presentation questions/topics. Hence, it is important that you effectively do the readings so we can have meaningful discussions after the presentations. Third, there will be a lecture component which complements the presentations and discusses the topic of the session, providing some background and an introduction to the relevant literature. Fourth, there will be a final essay. 

For more details, please refer to the full syllabus mentioned above.


The overall grade will be based on the presentation (30%), your answers to the quizzes (20%), the final essay (40%) and participation in class (10%). 
Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

MSc Management students at WU need to have passed the course  "Einführung in das Management". Other than than, there are no formal requirements for attending this course. However, students should have some notion of undergraduate/introductory microecononmics and macroeconomics. Knowledge of empirical methods (introductory statistics, introductory econometrics) is an advantage but is not required.

Students on the waiting list will be admitted following the order of their sign-up date.

Availability of lecturer(s)

Kilian Rieder: Homepage


Unit details
Unit Date Contents

Why and how study economic history?


The early rise of Europe


The Industrial Revolution


Culture, institutions and the legacy of colonialism


Gender, religion and stereotypes


Money, prices and trade


Health and migration

Last edited: 2022-10-28