module specification

FE4052 - Contextualising Theory (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Contextualising Theory
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
5 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
105 hours Guided independent study
40 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Learning Reflection - 1,000 words (500 generic+500 subject specific Book Review)
Seen Examination 80%   Part seen written exam of two hours. Three questions to be answered from eight offered.
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module develops students’ knowledge and understanding of the development of the international economy and the evolution of economic ideas since the mid-nineteenth century. By introducing students to the major economic changes after 1875, the theoretical contributions of economics, both practical and academic, will be understood in their evolving context. By providing an understanding of the development of ideas students will learn to relate theory and practice.

The module acknowledges the importance of context in analysing economic phenomena which link with other subject areas such as finance and banking, as well as the importance of developing a critical approach (SBS, 2015).


The importance of context in analysing economic phenomena which link with other subject areas such as finance and banking. LO1, LO3

International economic growth and development
The spread of Industrialisation and International Economic Development from 1875 in Britain, Europe, USA and the developing world. The corresponding contemporary ideas of industrial growth and competition, Jevons and Walras. Hobson on trade, Bohm-Bawerk and Hilferding on finance.  Alfred Marshall and the professionalization of Economics, poverty and the assessment of policy. LO2, LO3

The economic and social Impact of the First World War. Versailles and the post war economic scenario. Keynes’ criticism of the Versailles reparations. The end of empires and the economic consequences. LO2

The challenges of international exchange stability: the gold standard.  Tariffs and protectionism. Depression and Economic Recovery 1929 -39. Hayek-Knight debate over capital theory. Problems of economic growth and employment.  Measurement. Kuznets. Imperfect market theory, Robinson. Chamberlin. Debate on Monopolies. Berle and Means.

The socialist calculation debate, Barone, Neurath. The view of Von Mises. Welfare economics. Pareto. Pigou. Public goods and their appropriate level of provision. Merit goods and the economic rationale of the welfare state. LO3

Italian and German state policy, corporatism, the New Deal, Japanese economic policy. Keynesianism and the clash with the neo classical theory: the Hayek-Keynes debate. Theory of interest. LO2

The economics of war and the social Impact of World War II. Planning The reconstruction of the warring nations. The development of the ‘welfare state’, and social insurance. State ownership of key industries. LO3

The Long Boom in the World Economy 1948-1973. Bretton- Woods and the dominance of the economy of the USA.  Exchange rate theory. The economic resurgence of Japan and Western Europe.  Growth theory, Harrod. LO1

The end of colonialism and the attempt to create a ‘New Economic Order’: Prebisch and Singer. The non-aligned states, development economics and inequality: export led and investment led policies LO1, LO3

The End of the Long Boom and the shift to a New International Strategy 1973-1979. The breakdown of the economics of full employment and the dollar-gold standard. The criticisms of the role of the state and social democratic policies.

Inflation and the end of Keynesianism. Friedman, and Lucas. ‘Market fundamentalism’. Fama, Jensen, and Lucas. Efficient market hypothesis. Shareholder value, global liberalisation, economics and global financial crisis. Problems of market fundamentalism: Stiglitz, Krugman, and Sen. Big Society theorists. From market fundamentalism to free market order?

The role of technology and economic growth. Solow. The ‘Long Stability’ and ‘Globalisation’ 1980-2008. LO1, LO2

Monopoly, competition, and regulation. Theories of Rent seeking.
Inequality. The distribution and state redistribution of national income LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students’ learning is organised around direct contact time with the teaching team, and reflective independent learning. The direct contact time takes place through lectures, seminars and group workshops. Students must complement this 'formal' learning activity with further reading of the material suggested in the teaching sessions, using economic analysis, research, writing, planning and preparation for class tests, and the final exam.

Student contact time will typically be 3 hours per week. Lectures will normally be around 2 hours in duration and will deliver core knowledge. Workshop and other activities may replace the formal lecture from time to time. As this module emphasises the relation between economic history, its interpretation by contemporaries, and the application theory as policy, a seminar of around 1 hour will provide examples of how to use economics to understand and analyse the developments covered each week. Formative feedback will be provided in these seminars.

Contact time with teaching teams will be organised around a range of learning activities including active learning to acquire knowledge and understanding, group reading and analysis of journal articles, discussion of policy issues and debate.

Lecture and seminar activities are structured to enable students to develop basic knowledge and then to progress to develop higher order skills of synthesis and critical evaluation. All activities require students to carry out independent work prior to the seminars.

Assessment will take the form of a written Book Review, submitted in week 7 which will fit PISO requirements, and a seen written exam of two hours at the end of the semester. The former will allow the students to read and digest a chosen text and provide a critical assessment of 500 words, followed by a further 500 words reflecting upon the process of learning as experienced up until week 7 across all the level 4 modules. The second assessment will be an examination of two hours requiring 3 questions to be answered from a selection of 8: the first of these questions will be a seen question. The aim of these exercises is to ensure that the students follow up all their classes with appropriate reading and note taking, giving encouragement to the development of critical thinking.

Study and research skills are supported in lectures and seminars, and through independent directed learning and assessment. Skills development is enhanced through learning in seminars, working co-operatively in groups. Initiative and independence is developed progressively through the module so that students take greater responsibility for their work.

Seminars are expected to provide the main opportunities for formative and summative feedback. In these sessions the assessment instruments and assessment criteria will be explained and discussed. Examples of past good practice in assessment will be explained in seminars and placed on Weblearn and linked clearly to the assessment criteria used in the assessment. Through this process students have access to examples of best practice and will see examples of the grading criteria in operation. In seminars the development of assessments will be reviewed and discussed.
In seminars students will also receive formative feedback on their knowledge and understanding of economics by working though exercises which students prepare before the session.  This preparation and feedback provides support for students when they later tackle problems set in summative assessments.

The module makes use of virtual learning environment platforms (WebLearn, Publisher E-resources) in which module lecture material, course handbooks, test questions, previous assessment with feedback, and other material is placed. Students are required to engage with research published in academic journals. ICT resources include links to key web sites such as Government departments, research institutes, historical sites and multilateral organisations. Students will be shown how to treat all material with caution and research from a variety of sources.

Prior to formally presenting work students will consider, discuss, develop and present work for informal assessment by peers and the tutor in seminars.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

1. exemplify study and communication skills, contextual understanding and learning reflection, improving their key transferable skills and knowledge that will be of value in employment and self-employment;

2. describe the pattern of international economic history since 1875 and have a long-term perspective in the study of economic growth and development, as well as established an understanding of the evolution of economic theory and major current economic issues which link with other subject areas such as finance and banking;

3. discuss theory in the context of important economic, ethical and financial problems.


Textbooks: You are recommended to use Backhouse and one of the other core texts.

Core Texts

Foreman-Peck, J. A. (1995) History of the World Economy:  International Economic Relations Since 1850, Wheatsheaf, 2nd edition.
This book is also ONLINE
Kenwood, A.G. and Lougheed, A.L. (2013) The Growth of the International Economy 1820-2015 , Routledge
Hobsbawm E (1987 or later) The Age of Empire 1875-1914 Wiedenfeld & Nicolson

Backhouse R E. (2002) The Penguin History of Economics. Penguin.

Other Texts:

Heilbroner R.  (2000) The Worldly Philosophers:  The Lives, Times and Ideas of The Great Economic Thinkers, Penguin, 7th Ed.

Broadberry. S. (Editor) (2010) The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe, Volume 2: 1870 to the Present

Graff.M. (2013) Growth of the International Economy, 1820-2015  Routledge.

Ritschel. D. (1997) The Politics of Planning: The Debate on Economic Planning in Britain in the 1930s

Aldcroft .D.H. (2001)   The European Economy 1914-2000,

Pollard S. (1968) The Genesis of Modern Management   Pelican

Hobsbawm. E. (1994) Age of Extremes: The short twentieth century 1914-1991. Michael Joseph London


Journal of the History of Economic thought
The Journal of Economic History
History of Political Thought
The Economic History Review
The English Historical Review
Explorations in Economic History
The Journal of Modern History
Scottish Journal of Political Economy
Contemporary European History
European History Quarterly
Historical Social Research
Journal of Modern European History[


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