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Economics: North America


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buidlings from Leiden to The Hague takes about 45 minutes.


The course “Economics: North America” is designed to provide an overview of economic and economic policy developments in North America since the time of the New Deal, with an additional emphasis on how North American developments have impacted and been impacted by global economic and economic policy forces. The sweeping policy changes crowned in the 1930s cemented the modern American economic order which forms the baseline for subsequent developments. The military-industrial complex, Reaganomics, and the internet revolution, and the significance of the ‘Tea Party’ will form topics of study. Apart from a few ultimately unfounded ‘scares’ (such as the Japanese challenge of the 1980s), American economic hegemony seemed to go only up and up until the crash of 2008. Will this prove to have been a pivotal turning point in global economic history? What lessons can we learn from the ‘American model?’. How much of it was the result of policy, institutions, path dependencies, and/or just plain ‘dumb luck'? What role have the U.S.’ closest neighbors in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean played in this story – how much freedom, economic, political, and cultural, do they actually have?

Having completed this course, it is hoped that students will look back on it as a foundational moment in their understanding of the historical and ongoing importance of North American economic power as a major player in global human development.

Course objectives

Students have:

  • Acquired an overview of the historical and contemporary economic developments and political economy dynamics in their chosen area and deepen their existing knowledge and understanding of different economic systems, economic institutions, economic processes and actors in the different regions/countries of the region, using the concepts acquired during the courses Economics and Configuring the World.

  • Been acquainted with academic debates on selected topics in the specific region.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 24 hours

  • Attending tutorials: 8 hours

  • Assessment hours (midterm and final exam): 4 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: (approximately 7 pages per hour): 64 hours

  • Time for completing assignments, preparing classes and exams: 40 hours

Assessment method


  • Midterm exam: Written examination with open questions, part essay, part 'fill in the blank'.

  • Final exam: Written examination with open questions, part essay, part 'fill in the blank'.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of tutorial, midterm exam and final exam.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam and final exam needs to be 5.5 or higher.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), or the weighted average of midterm- and final exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier midterm and final exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the resit exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Course Readings (required)

  • M. French, US Economic History Since 1945 (Manchester, 1997).

  • S. Engerman and R. Gallman. Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. III, 20th century. (Available online through Leiden Library) (Abbreviated ‘CEH’).

  • C. Reinhart and K. Rogoff. This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton, 2011).

Course Readings (reference)

  • J. Hughes, American Economic History (Pearson, 8th ed.).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For tutorials
Dr. J. Fynn-Paul

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.