Course 2022-2023 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLEACC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/12)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

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 text, which is now available electronically through the Bocconi Library catalog, is covered in the course, but it also serves as a useful background reading for students who wish to have an introduction to 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 globalization 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 globalization transformed regions of 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 19th centuries 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 industrial age 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 region
  • 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 crtical thinking
  • Develop skills in academic writing

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures


The lectures are designed to engage students on the course topics and to help them summarize and understand the content of the advanced course readings.

Assessment methods

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


Students will be assessed by written examination only, but they will have two available options: partial and general exams. Both exams will contain only open-answer questions. The partial exams in the midterm and at the end of term will test students on their knowledge of the first and second part of the course program respectively and focus on both course readings and class discussions. The general exam tests students on their knowledge of the entire course program and focus only on course readings. The partial exams consist of both short answer questions and an essay questions (with choices); the general exam consists of only short-answer quesitons.

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 library catalog or on the Blackboard course page. Students will not have to buy any textbooks.

Last change 07/06/2022 15:18