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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2653 American Business History

20 creditsClass Size: 28

Module manager: Bianca Scoti

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores the history of American business from colonial times to the present. It examines topics such as the colonial economy, industrialization, slavery and the plantation system, the rise of big business, government regulation, consumer culture, the Great Depression, the impact of war on business, the service economy, postwar growth, and globalization.


The objectives of this module are:
1) To teach students to understand the role of business in American life from colonial times to the present;
2) To blend the study of American business and economic history with the study of American social and cultural history.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will demonstrate:
1) A familiarity with important historical writings in American business history that are relevant to their experiences as citizens of the world.
2) The ability to interpret a range of texts, including writings by historians, and original period sources, including letters, pamphlets, newspapers, advertisements, and business records.
3) The ability to express and communicate ideas in discussion groups and in written presentations.


In 1925, Republican President Calvin Coolidge addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors and coined a phrase that became a mainstay of American culture: "The chief business of the American people is business." This course explores the history of American business by placing entrepreneurs, firms, and markets in the wider social, cultural, and economic context of US history. Through a combination of lectures and discussions, we will examine the role of business in American life from colonial times to the digital age. Essays by historians and period documents will be assigned as discussion aids.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparatory readings for lectures and seminars.
Preparing the oral presentation.
Engaging with the work of other seminar participants.
Writing the essay.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress will be monitored via individual contributions to class discussions, and feedback on the oral presentation, and on an assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,500 word essay due by noon on Monday of Week 2 of the Exam Period70.00
Presentation10 minute presentation plus 500 word report due in relevant seminar30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 07/09/2022


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