Elective: Economics for Economic Historians


Probably more than any other social science, economics appears inaccessible to anyone not familiar with its language and method.  Yet it remains a dynamic, versatile, and useful approach to the study of social behaviour.  The aim of this course is to introduce researchers to the principles and basic concepts of economics, in particular microeconomics and macroeconomics, and to demystify the jargon used in the discipline.  Over nine sessions, we will explore various elements in the economist's 'toolbox', placing a special emphasis on how these elements are applied to describe and understand the real world.  This course has been designed to complement the Economic and Social History MSc/MPhil core courses, including a lesson on game theory based on the What Happened and Why reading list.

This course does not assume or require that any prior knowledge of economics or maths. It is therefore particularly suited for graduate students who have not previously studied economics and who are interested in gaining a working knowledge of the main concepts in the field.  Students with some knowledge of economics, however, might also find it useful for reviewing concepts or clarifying ideas.


The course consists of nine (9) sessions of two hours each (with a ten-minute break), offered place during Michaelmas Term.

Assessment for this course will take the form of a pass-fail five to ten-minute presentation in Week 9 of Michaelmas term. The presentation will use visuals as appropriate (i.e. one or two PowerPoint slides, maps, etc.). The purpose of the assessment is for self-monitoring and will serve as good training for academic or commercial life. - It has no effect on degree results.


There is no set textbook for the course as the topics to be discussed are covered by a range of good textbooks on economics.  However, it will be useful for you to select one or two textbooks from among the options listed below, which then can serve as a resource and a reference throughout the course. Potential options include:

(NOTE: These textbooks not only have many updated editions but also alternative editions -  American, European, international - with various alternative co-authors.  All of them are generally pretty similar to each other and can be used interchangeably.)

Any student interested in a deeper knowledge of microeconomics should approach the standard reference at intermediate level:

For macroeconomics, the following books are particularly useful:

Other books not mentioned here might also work.


There is no need to read everything listed above; however, these books are suggested because they are topical and illustrate the wide range of applications for economic concepts.


As mentioned above, the course will provide an overview of the basic concepts and ideas in economics. After an introductory class, the first half of the course will deal with microeconomics, and the second with various topics in macroeconomics.