Summerschool 2024 +2025: The Economic History of Europe

Course content

This comprehensive course offers theoretical and historical insights into the evolution of Europe. We start by tracing the continent’s emergence from being a technological and economic backwater at the end of the first millennium to being able to match the advanced Muslim and Chinese civilizations around 1500. We continue by following the economic advances as Europe forged ahead, becoming the leader of the Industrial Revolution and the source of numerous technological innovations, which were diffused internationally through trade and colonial domination, but with varying impact on the rest of the world. It is shown that Europe was unique in fostering a mentality of rational inquiry into the laws of nature which led to an industrial enlightenment. A special focus will be on the last 200 years of dramatic economic development, when a remarkable increase in income has been accompanied by recurrent crises and increased world inequality but decreasing domestic inequality. This has generated a variety of responses such as the modern macroeconomic stabilization policies, the Welfare State, and attempts to tame the disruptive impact of financial turbulence and unemployment. Although the last 150 years have been a period of remarkable growth, they have also been a period of recurrent crises which require explanation.


Lecture Plan

1. The making of Europe. How Europe developed into an integrated economic region with intensive trade and cultural similarities across the continent despite endemic political and military conflicts. (Chapter 1)

2. The secrets of pre-industrial growth. Gains from specialization through division of labour before the Industrial Revolution. The restoration of monetary order and international trade. The first general purpose technology at work: water and wind mills. (Chapter 2)

3. The dynamics of population growth. Thomas Malthus versus Adam Smith. The exceptional family planning practiced in Europe (before the pill) which helped the continent escape poverty. (Chapter 3)

4. When and why Europe took the lead. Slow but persistent growth in Europe allowed the continent to forge ahead several centuries before the Industrial Revolution. How to measure economic growth in poorly documented economies. Was the Industrial Revolution really a Revolution? (Chapter 4 and section 1 in chapter 6)

5. Firms, farms and co-operatives. The institutional diversity in economic progress with a special focus on the advantages of co-operative enterprises in Scandinavia. (Chapter 5)

6. Historical foundations of modern economic growth. Science and technological catch-up. Why are some nations pioneers and others late-comers in the modernization process? (Chapter 6)

7. The origin and development of money and banks. The anatomy of banking crises and why we have to live with them. (Chapter 7)

8. Trade, tariffs and growth. The evolution of the comparative advantage argument for free trade. How trade policy affects growth. What does the historical record teach us about the wisdom of adopting protectionist measures? (Chapter 8) 
9. International monetary systems in history. Why an international monetary system is necessary. The policy choices available to an open economy. The history of international monetary regimes. The Eurozone crisis in historical perspective. (Chapter 9)

10. From the minimal state to the Welfare State in the 20th century. Economic policy, inflation and unemployment. Do austerity policies work? A comparison between the interwar period (1919-1939) and the present crises in the European Union. (Chapter 10)

11. Trends in inequality between and within nations. We trace inequality from the Roman era to the present. Has the trend towards increasing equality within nations been broken and what is happening to world inequality? (Chapter 11)

12. Globalization is not new! What globalization does to your welfare and the welfare of poor nations. Welfare effects of trade and foreign investments. (Chapter 12)


MSc programme in Economics – elective course

Bacheloruddannelsen i økonomi – valgfag efter 1. år

The Danish BSc programme in Economics - elective after the 1.year


The course is open to:

  • Exchange and Guest students from abroad
  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students
Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:



  • Identify, explain, and reflect upon the main topics within economic history.

  • Account for the difference between the forces at work in the pre-industrial era, when division of labour and trade were major factors in economic development, and science-based technological progress in the modern era.

  • Evaluate the impact of the constraints of resources on economic growth and the determinants of population growth in the pre-industrial as well as the modern era.

  • Account for the institutional preconditions for transfer of knowledge and convergence of income levels across nations in Europe.

  • Explain and reflect upon the economic history of money.

  • Define the forces which shape trade policies (free trade vs. protectionism) and discuss the general outline of the phases of trade regimes during the last 200 years.

  • Account for the mechanisms and workings of international monetary orders such as the Gold Standard, the Bretton Woods system and the euro.

  • Describe the changes in inequality over time, and explain how to measure this.

  • Describe and reflect upon the history of globalization and the challenges it presents.

  • Discuss the role and impact of Europe in a global economy.



  • Use simple data methods to analyse historical data

  • Apply economic theory as it relates to economic history

  • Read and report from scholarly journal articles



  • Explain the main topics in economic history

  • Apply models and theories related to economic history

  • Work with and process historical time series such as wage, price, and population data

The course will consist of lectures, seminars and exercise sessions scheduled in a plan the students will receive from the teacher. In the seminars, the students will present and discuss papers related to topics discussed in the preceding lectures. In the exercise sessions, the students will be taught to use the historical time series on the textbook’s website http:/​/​​dk/​academic/​subjects/​history/​economic-history/​economic-history-europe-knowledge-institutions-and-growth-600-present-2nd-edition?format=PB&isbn=9781107479388.

Restrictions due to pandemic crisis:
The teaching in this course may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online due to a pandemic crisis like COVID-19. If changes are implemented please read the study messages at KUnet or the announcements in the virtual course room on Absalon (for enrolled students).


Karl Gunnar Persson, Markus Lampe and Paul Sharp, An Economic History of Europe: Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, Cambridge University Press, 3rd revised edition, 2023 (unpublished, draft chapters freely available for download on Absalon).

Plus a selection of journal articles relevant to the subject which will be available online for participating students. Total reading load: ca. 500 pages.

Economics at the level of first years undergratuate courses "Principles of Economics A" and "Principles of Economics B" is recommended, however ambitious students in history and the social sciences can follow the course since basic economic concepts are explained in the textbook.

Participating students must be able and willing to write and speak in English.

Teaching: 10th to 14th and 17th to 21th of July 2023
Selfstudy: 22th of July until the exam.
A detailed schedule will be informed by the lecturer in Absalon.

TIMETABLE and venue:
To see the timetable and location of classrooms please press the link under "Timetable"/​​​"Se skema" at the right side of this page (Available from March).

You can find the similar information in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module: “2200-B5-5F23; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Week Days”
-Select Period: “Forår/Spring – Weeks 5-30”
Press: “View Timetable”

Please be aware:
- That the workload of the summer school correspond to a fuldtime course at the Master programme in Economics, University of Copenhagen.
- It is not possible to change course after the last registration period has expired.
- The schedule of the lectures and the exercise classes can be changed without the participants´ acceptance. If this happens you can see the new schedule in your personal timetable at KUnet, in the app myUCPH and through the links in the right side and the link above.
- It is the students´s own responsibility continuously throughout the study to stay informed about their study, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the curriculum of the study programme, the study pages at KUnet, student messages, the course description, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, the personal schema at KUnet and myUCPH app etc.

Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

There will be oral feedback to the class presentations during the seminar classes from the teacher and the other students and individual feedback on the presentation.

During the exercise classes, the teacher will actively support the students while they work in class, and give feedback as necessary.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 12 hours
Type of assessment details
Individual take-home exam.
It is not allowed to collaborate on the assignment with anyone.
The exam assignment is given in English and must be answered in English.
Exam registration requirements

Full participation at the summerschool is mandatory and the student must actively participate in all activities.


All aids allowed

for the written exam.


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam.
An oral re-examination may be with external assessment.
Exam period

Exam information:

More information will be available in Digital Exam from the middle of July. 

Find the examination schedule here

More information about examination, rules, aids etc. is available at  Master students (UK), Master students (DK) and Bachelor students (DK).



The reexam is a 20 minutes oral exam without preparation.

No aids allowed during the examination.

External assessment. 



Exact type, day, time and place is available in Digital Exam in December. If necessary the Faculty can change the type, day, time and place after the announcement.

More info: Master(UK), Master(DK) and Bachelor(DK).

Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.


In order to obtain the top grade “12”, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.


In order to obtain the passing grade “02”, the student must in a satisfactory way be able to demonstrate a minimal acceptable level of  the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 138
  • Exercises
  • 8
  • Seminar
  • 8
  • Exam
  • 24
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 block

Summer School 2023:
July 10th to 28th, 2023

Summer School 2024:
weeks 28 and 29

Summer School 2025:

Information about admission and tuition fee:  Summer schools 

Information om optagelse og evt betaling:  Åbent Universitet

and venue:
- For teaching and timetable: Go to 'Remarks'.
- For exam and re-sits: Go to 'Exam'.
Department of Economics, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Paul Richard Sharp   (18-7364786f31756c666b64756731766b6475734368667271316e7831676e)

Philipp Ager
Lars Lønstrup

Saved on the 08-05-2024

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students