EC120 studies the process of economic change from early European overseas trading ventures to the upheavals of the early 21st century. It begins with an overview of global economies before the onset of modern industrialization, focusing on Europe together with China, India and the Ottoman Empire in Asia.

The module goes on to examine how trade, finance and industry developed in Europe culminating in the Industrial Revolution. The second part of the module then studies the spread of industrialization both within and beyond Europe, focusing especially on the role of technological progress and international economic relations (trade, finance and migration). Following an examination of the upheavals of two world wars and the Great Depression in the first half of the 20th century EC120 continues with an overview of the global economy paying particular attention to trade, monetary regimes and governments' policy objectives to the present time.