The Rise of Empires: The Political Economy of Innovation


The purpose of 'The Rise of Empires - The Political Economy of Innovation' is to identify the process by which innovation takes place, the factors responsible for this, how empires subsequently rise; and how they fall. This will be accomplished by analysing the rise of empires over the last 8000 years at a multicultural level, starting with the emergence of Homo Sapiens. Furthermore, the course will take an interdisciplinary approach and so its findings will be relevant to Economics, Anthropology, Political Economy, Politics and International Relations. 

Programme details

Courses starts: 19 Apr 2024

Week 0: Course Orientation

Week 1:  Introduction

Week 2: Theory of Innovation and Causal Dynamics

Week 3: Pre-History - Emergence and Palaeolithic to Broze Age (10,000 BC to 800 BC)

Week 4: The Babylonian Empire (1900 BC to 539 BC)

Week 5: Ancient Greece (1100 BC to 30 BC)

Week 6: The Roman Empire (443 BC to 395 AD)

Week 7: The Chola Dynasty (350 BC to 1279 AD)

Week 8: The Han Dynasty (206 BC  to 220 AD) and The Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1279 AD)

Week 9: The Mongol Empire (1206 AD to 1368 AD)

Week 10: The British Empire (1603 AD to 1997 AD)

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend and participate in at least 80% of the live sessions on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Course Fee £257.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Ramesh Sangaralingam

Sangaralingam Ramesh is an Economics Tutor in the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford and a Senior Teaching Fellow in Economics at University College London, UK. He has been an Associate Professor in Economics at the Université Paris Dauphine GBD and Economics Module Leader at Kings College London

Course aims

To evaluate how innovation has facilitated the transition of one civilisation to another over the last 8000 years.

Course Objectives:

  • To evaluate the theory of innovation and causal dynamics.
  • To analyse how innovation in one civilisation would have allowed it to dominate contemporary cultures and civilisations.
  • To investigate whether innovation is just technical or if it can be political and procedural as well.

Teaching methods

This course will consist of a weekly, one-hour pre-recorded lecture to be viewed by students in preparation for the once weekly tutor-led live session at the time advertised.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • understand the theory of innovation and causal dynamics;
  • understand how innovation in one civilisation would have allowed it to dominate contemporary cultures and civilisations;
  • understand that innovation may not just be technical but that it may also be political and procedural.

Assessment methods

Students will be required to submit a 750 word Assignment 1 in week 5 of the course; and a 1500 word Assignment 2 in the week after the course has completed, i.e Week 11.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


We will close for enrolments 7 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (7 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

No previous knowledge is required for this course. However, participants level of spoken, reading, writing and listening in English should be near to that of a native speaker or someone who has studied at undergraduate level in English.

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)