Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Structure and Change in Malta's Economic History

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit discusses the transformations occurring in Malta’s economy from 1800 to the 1980s, in a regional and global context. In other words, it examines the processes by which this small Mediterranean archipelago, forming part of the British Empire, was incorporated in the world capitalist system and the impact this left on its domestic economy. In the first lecture sessions we will indicate the main landmarks forging Malta’s economic history throughout this period, including: Malta’s function as a trade emporium during the Continental Blockade; it’s stepping up as a military-naval base during the Eastern Question and its changing role as a key coal-bunkering and shipping station with the opening of the Suez Canal; the economy during the first Self-government experiment; the second world war, followed by post-war reconstruction against a background of decolonisation and an emerging Cold War scenario. ; the economic development plans and Malta’s integration in the world economy.

The second part of the study-unit is structured on the following topics of discussion:
Abandoning agriculture and the fisheries; the decline of the cotton culture; village artisan production; the prevalence of the trading sector and the harbour economy; the pattern of Maltese capital accumulation; the growth of an import-oriented economy; the stepping up of Malta’s strategic (naval-military) role and the growing dependence on the Services; the growth of a peculiar labour market; structural inflation; colonial modernisation and integration in the world capitalist economy; economic development planning.


This study-unit aims to:
- provide students with the necessary knowledge to be able to critically analyze the evolution of Malta's economic history from 1800 to date;
- be able to examine Malta's present structural economic problems in the light of the past.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to gain the necessary knowledge on Malta's economic history and to apply this to understand the structural economic problems of the country today.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to acquire:
- analytical thinking and critical evaluation;
- a theoretical paradigm through which to contextualize and understand today's economic problems.

Reading List:

- H. Bowen-Jones, J.C. Dewdney and W.B. Fisher, Malta, Background for Development (University of Durham, 1961).
- J. Chircop, “Maltese Cotton Manufacture under British colonial rule. A story of decline and extinction”, BOV review, No.15, Spring 1997, 47-60.
- A.G.Clare, “Features of an Island Economy”, in V. Mallia-Milanes (ed.), The British Colonial Experience 1800-1864. The Impact on Maltese Society, 127-154.
- M. Brincat, “Thoughts on the Prehistory of Economic Development Planning in Malta – From the Woods Report to the First Development Plan”, in Proceedings of History Week 2003, 57-74.
- C.A. Price, Malta and the Maltese. A Study in Nineteenth Century Migration (Malta, 1989).
- Papers on Malta's post-II World War economic history are to be found in J. Chircop (ed.), Revisting Labour History (Malta, 2012).
- Other articles are to be found on the Journal of Maltese History online:
- J. Chircop, “Colonial Encounters: Maltese Experiences of British Rule” (Horizons, 2015).

ADDITIONAL NOTES This study-unit is offered only to History students.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper SEM2 No 25%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 75%

LECTURER/S John Chircop

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.