An introduction to economic history, with an eye to pondering how it can informing our understanding of, and responses to, the present. Learn about major changes to the world economy from 1900 to the present, and in the process learn key concepts, theories and arguments in political economy and economics. Each week provides you with two 30-minute videos and two downloadable readings. These resources are the basis for a 90 minute weekly online tutorial discussion (with a short break at the 45 minute mark). Extensive additional reading and resources are supplied for those that have the time and inclination to dig further. The subject does not require any prior study of economics or political economy.  

DETAILED information About the subject

Design: This subject is taught in ‘flipped classroom’ mode. This involves viewing an online lecture (which can also be listened to as a podcast), then undertaking some set reading and then participating in a weekly 90 minute tutorial discussion (with a short break at the 45 minute mark). The lectures and readings are all downloadable and be done whenever you like. The lectures can either be viewed, or simply listened to as podcast. Tutorials are online via zoom in groups of between about a dozen people most weeks (capped at 20 maximum).  

Dates and times

Tutorials start Tuesday 28th of April 2020, 6.00-7.30pm. The subject runs for 9 weeks and concludes Tuesday 23rd June. 

 All times above are Australian Eastern Standard Time. Please bear this in mind if you are outside of Melbourne/Australia, noting daylight saving time change in both locations. If the online tutorial occurs at an impractical time for you, please let me know what time(s) would suit you so in the event we get enough enrolments for a second online tutorial I might be able to hold that tutorial at a more convenient time for you.  

Location: Due to current social distancing the subject is fully online. 

Cost: AUD$240 (waged), AUD$170 (unwaged). If you are currently experiencing financial hardship you can pay once things get back to normal. 

Payment:  On receipt of your registration, we will invoice you. Payment is usually undertaken by electronic funds transfer. Payment of the invoice is due 14 days before the commencement of each subject.  

Refunds: If you attend the first class and find that for some reason it is not what you are seeking then we can provide you with a full refund provided that we are notified within 7 days of the first class. 

Assessment: There are regular questions and answers to allow you to self-test your knowledge, but the results of such self-tests are only available to you. Tutorial discussions are also a great opportunity to test and clarify your ideas.

Consultation: If you need help with any of the material you are very welcome to ask. We can talk to you before, during or after class, via phone, email or Skype/Zoom. 

Accreditation: The purpose of the course is to provide you with a high-quality, accessible, university-level introduction to political economy and economics rather than accreditation in the form of a degree or similar. However, if you undertake the course you can obviously list that you have done so on your resume. We can verify this fact as required .   

Student feedback: SPE102 will run for the first time in 2020 so there is no feedback available at this point. However, feedback is available for SPE101 which ran for the first-time in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was well received. Feedback can be viewed here .

Week 1 The World Economy in 1900 & The First World War (1914-18)

The first lecture surveys the world economy on the cusp of the 20th Century. This necessarily involves a focus on empire, colonialism and globalisation. The focus then turns to causes, impact and legacies of the First World War. Even if you have previously studied the general history of World War One, the particular perspective offered by economic history is a distinctive and rewarding complement to any of your previous studies.    

Week 2 The Great Depression 1929-39

This week is dedicated to examining causes, impact and legacy of the Great Depression. It introduces J M Keynes and his invention of macroeconomics and the role of aggregate demand and its management. The Great Depression provides an excellent means to introduce macroeconomic ideas and the ongoing debates within macroeconomics and macroeconomic policy making.  

Week 3 The RISE And Fall of Socialism in the USSR 1917-1991.

We examine the evolution of socialism in the USSR. Starting with War Communism we look at the New Economic Policy, Stalinism, The Liberman-Kosygin Reforms and the Gorbachev Era. We will also briefly touch upon the Market Socialism of the former Yugoslavia. This area of study is useful not only for people wishing to gain a better understanding of socialist systems, but it is also of considerable relevance and value for anybody interested in different types of capitalist and post-capitalist systems. 

Week 4. WORld War Two and the Post-War Bretton Woods system

An examination of the economic aspects of World War Two. Particular focus is given to the management of the wartime economy via economic planning and price controls. The second lecture focuses on the Bretton Woods System which governed monetary relations between countries between the mid 1940’s to the early 1970’s.  

Week 5 The LOng Boom And its Demise

Between 1950 and 1973 the industrialised countries experienced a long boom characterised by rising living standards, low unemployment and relatively low-inequality. The capitalism that was characteristic of this era was markedly different in its institutional features to the neoliberal capitalism that is currently dominant. The lectures, readings and discussion will focus on explaining the rise and demise of both the long boom and the social democratic mode of capitalism that significantly underpinned it. 

Week 6 Rise of Neoliberalism

Neoliberal capitalism emerged during the 1970’s, established itself in the 1980’s and has been dominant every since. We examine what is distinctive about neoliberal capitalism, what accounts for its rise and ongoing dominance and whether it is likely to be able to sustain this dominance.  

Week 7 The Japan’s Rise, Fall and Stagnation

An examination of post 1945 Japanese Economic Development, including the ‘miracle’ years of the 1960’s the Bubble Economy of the late 1980’s and the ongoing low-growth since the bursting of the bubble. Particular focus is given to analysing and evaluating the use of Industrial Policy. 

Week 8 The Global South

This week is focused on developing countries since 1945. Analysis includes decolonisation, modernisation theory, basic needs approach, the Washington Consensus and Neoliberalism. Issues of Foreign Aid, Trade Policy and Industrial Policy are all examined.  

Week 9 the Global Financial Crisis and its Aftermath

An examination of the causes and consequences of the Global Financial Crisis –  which was the largest shock to the World Economy since the Depression of the 1930s. The focus then turns to examining the world economy since that time up to the present. We will conclude the subject by discussing how the study of economic history has informed your understanding and responses to contemporary challenges such as climate change and environment crises, inequality, economic vulnerability and stagnation.