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Institutions in World History: The State, Trade and Empire, 1500-1800

Vak
2015-2016

Admission requirements

Not applicable.

Description

Just like 42 is the answer to everything in Douglass Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, institutions seem to be the answer to everything in history. Whether you want to study the Great Divergence, colonies, or states; institutions explain it all – or do they? The concept of ‘institutions’ was introduced by Douglass C. North, and won him the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1993. This course will use history to put (the effect of) economic theory to the test.
This seminar will enable students to understand, and participate in, the debate on the role and importance of institutions and institutional developments in the Early Modern period. Using both primary and secondary sources we will grapple with the question of how to study the roles of institutions in history.
This course will take a broad comparative perspective, looking not only at developments in Europe, but also at contemporary developments in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The role of instutitions in fostering the Great Divergence will thus be an important part of this course.
Ultimately, students will be able to develop their own views on this important theme within economic history.

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
    1. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
    1. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
    • in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the manner in which migrations (of people, goods and ideas) between and within states have led to shifts (in cohesion, ethnic composition, policies, imaging, culture, and power relations) in the period 1600-2000, with a focus on (urban) networks (within and across borders);
    • in the subspecialisation Economic History also: the origin and outcomes of the Great Divergence, developments in political economy since ca 1600, increasing global interdependence throughout the centuries, the development of global governance in the twentieth century, as well as the most important debates in recent Economic History.
    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:
    • in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the interdisciplinary approach (application of theories and methods from social sciences), the comparative perspective (diachronic and synchronic) and working with a large variety of primary sources;
    • in the subspecialisation Economic History also: the application of economic concepts, research methods or models; insight into the argumentation of current debates.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar
The student:

    1. Understands new approaches in the debate on the role of institutions in state-formation, economic history and empire-building.
    1. Can take a position in the debate on the role of institutions in state-formation, economic history and empire-building.
    1. Is able to apply insights on relevant topics, such as the Great Divergence debate.
    1. Develops an awareness of the increasing connectivity between different parts of the word in the period 1500-1800.
    1. Student should be able to conduct comparative research.
    1. (ResMA only) ResMA student should be able to frame the outcome of their research in theoretical terms and use this ability to pioneer new approaches to their respective research areas; and point to new directions for future research.

Timetable

See Timetable and deadlines History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours.

  • 14 seminar meetings of 2 hours each: 28 hours.

  • Preparation for classes (assignments, presentation, literature): 140 hours.

  • Writing a research paper: 112 hours.

Assessment method

Assessment

  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 10-16 (ResMA also: 9, 17)

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 11, 12, 13-16, (ResMA also: 17)

  • Assignment 1 (Weekly assignment based on the literature students have read for that class.)
    Measured learning objectives: 4, 7, 8, 11-17

Weighing
Written paper: 70%
Oral presentation: 10%
Assignment 1: Weekly Assignments : 15%
Participation in classes: 5%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficent and all requirements are sufficient as wll.

Deadlines
Written papers should be handed in within the given deadline.

Resit
Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used in this class for group discussion, cooperation, disseminating assignmetns, and organization (time tables, literature list etc.)

Reading list

  • To be announced.

Registration

Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

dhr. E.L.L. Odegard MPhil
dhr. J.J.S. van den Tol MA

Remarks

None