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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Economic and Social History

Undergraduate Course: Technological Change in Global Economic History (ECSH10110)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryTechnological change motivated by the pursuit of productivity gains is viewed as the holy grail of economic growth, leading to the First Industrial Revolution in Britain. This course reconsiders technological change in the manufacturing of cotton textiles and porcelain products in Britain, two processed goods from the East that represented and facilitated modern economic growth in Britain.
Course description Theories abound on why the First Industrial Revolution was British. Many of them argue, with varying degrees of stress on causal factors, that Britain industrialised because it was able to make certain commodities faster and cheaper, enabling a lead within the global economy that allowed it to break through the Malthusian frontier, triggering modern economic growth. What role did the import substitution of products previously imported from Asia play in stimulating technological change, and consequently the onset of modern economic growth? Taking two key commodities of the Early Modern global economy as test cases (cotton textiles from India and porcelain goods from China) we assess from week to week how the import substitution of these products led to technological change and eventually industrialisation. Students taking the course will critically consider mainstream productivity-based theories on technological change in economic history as well as new revisionist work that challenges this view from a global and material perspective.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 42, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 347 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
2 x 3500 word research essay (each worth 20%)

Written Exam:
3 hour exam (40%)

Non-Written Skills:
2 x 15 minute Group Presentation, one in each semester (each worth 10%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop an understanding of the key debates and approaches to the study of technological change for industrialisation and its significance for the onset of modern economic growth.
  2. Develop an understanding of the study of materials and their significance in bringing new insights to key debates in economic history.
  3. Critically analyse a variety of textual and material sources to extract historically relevant information from them.
  4. Appreciate specific methods of investigating material textile objects and gathering information/data from these objects.
  5. Develop techniques for interpreting data and communicate insights to answer historical questions.
Reading List
Beverly Lemire, Fashion's Favourite: The Cotton Trade and the Consumer in Britain, 1660-1800, Oxford University Press, 1991

Prasannan Parthasarathi, Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia did not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011

Alka Raman, Indian Cotton Textiles and British industrialisation: Evidence of Comparative Learning in the British Cotton Industry in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Economic History Review, Vol. 75(2), May 2022, pp. 447-474

Alka Raman, From Hand to Machine: How Indian Cloth Quality Shaped British Cotton Spinning Technology, Technology and Culture, Vol 64(3), July 2023, pp. 707-736

Robert Allen, The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2009

Joel Mokyr, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress, Oxford University Press, 1992

Robert Finlay, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History, University of California Press, London, 2010

Anne Gerritsen, The City of Blue and White: Chinese Porcelain and the Early Modern World, Cambridge University Press, London, 2020

A.E Musson and Eric Robinson, Science and Technology in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester University Press, 1969

Nathan Rosenberg, Exploring the Black Box: Technology, Economics and History, Cambridge University Press, 1994

Charles Singer, E.J. Holmyard, A.R. Hall and Trevor I. Williams (eds) A History of Technology, Vol IV: The Industrial Revolution, Oxford University Press, London, 1958

Robert Fox (ed), Technological Change: Methods and Themes in the History of Technology, Routledge, 1996
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Understanding of key debates and approaches to the study of industrialisation and its significance to modern economic growth

Written and oral communication skills

Research skills, related to archival and material sources

Presentation skills and group work

Ability to critically assess secondary sources
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Diana Paton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4578
Course secretary
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