ECON2951 – Economic History and Inequality

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course covers central topics in the global economic history since 1500. The topics are chosen from the comparative history of the development of nations. The course emphasizes the dynamic process of historical change. The method is in part applied economics with a critical attitude towards timeless explanations of the wealth of nations.

The list of questions includes: Why and how has the world become increasingly unequal? Why did some countries industrialize before others? What was the role of income distribution, endowments and political institutions for economic progress? What role did high wages play to induce change? Why was it Europeans who conquered the world? How was the Americas incorporated into the global economy? Why has Africa remained the poorest region in the world?

This course addresses these and other similar questions using simple tools and by contrasting them to contemporary and modern economic theories for understanding the role of economic incentives, inequality and institutions for economic and social development.

Learning outcome

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Identify the main factors and stages of global economic development after 1500.
  • To explain theories connecting economic growth, inequality and institutions.
  • To understand how economic principles can explain global patterns of industrialization and the integration of the global economy.
  • To discuss the relationships between economic growth, standards of living and inequality.


Students at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

You can not attend this course if you have already passed specific ECON-courses at a higher level.


Recommended previous knowledge

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with ECON4951 – Economic History and Inequality

If you have passed the exam in ECON2951, you cannot take the course ECON4951 as part of your Master degree.


The course is structured around lectures and seminar discussions. The lectures provide a broad overview over the topics both for students who take the course for the bachelor degree and for students who take the course for the master degree. There will be separate seminars for the two groups of students. The basic goal for both seminar series is to help students understand how one can bridge the gap between economics and economic history.

The bachelor seminars for ECON2951 supplement the lectures and go through parts that require more explanation. Students are supposed to discuss the most important issues. The exam in the end of the course is a take home exam. Parts of the seminars therefore discuss how to best compose an essay and how to develop critical writing.


A take home exam. You will have approximately three weekdays to write and deliver your exam paper. All submitted papers will be checked for plagiarism. You can find the date and time for the exam on the semester page. 

Previous exams

Exam papers with comments from examiner

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

All examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language