Time: 65 hours
The course is organized chronologically and thematically. Each unit will focus on key developments in the history of industry and on representative areas of the globe, using primary-source documents, secondary sources, and multimedia to illustrate the dynamic nature of industrial change. By the end of the course, you will understand how industrialization developed, spread across the globe, and shaped everyday life in the modern era.
First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me in this course". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.
Capitalism, an economic system based on the private ownership of productive power, made the Industrial Revolution possible by creating demands for goods and incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in production. Capitalism had its origins in merchant activity, but by the 17th and 18th centuries, it began to penetrate traditional agricultural and industrial sectors. New crops from the Americas and new ideas about agricultural production led to an Agricultural Revolution in Europe, resulting in growing populations and the creation of new wealth among landowners.
Capitalism matured as an economic system in the Atlantic World. Investors used capital to buy land in the Americas and captive labor from Africa to produce consumer goods (with slave labor), such as tobacco, sugar, and cotton, to expand global markets. Throughout the period, capitalist merchants tapped existing handicraft producers of manufactured goods, using saved capital to finance industrial production on a growing scale.
In this unit, we will analyze the impact of the Agricultural Revolution on Europe and see how it encouraged the growth of capitalism in Europe, across the Atlantic, and around the world.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.
Industry did not begin with the Industrial Revolution. Ancient societies produced consumer goods on a large scale, serving markets that spread over hundreds or even thousands of miles. In ancient Rome, India, and China, large populations, centralized governments, and well-connected international trading routes created vast markets for goods from military and agricultural equipment to textiles and home décor. Entrepreneurs seeking to profit from these markets developed new techniques and tools for mass production that laid the groundwork for future industrial advances. Many of these technological advances fell into disuse during the medieval period, but entrepreneurs continued to develop new commercial practices to organize and finance large-scale businesses.
In this unit, we examine several important industries that developed in the ancient world, such as mining, metallurgy, and textiles. We will then see how merchant entrepreneurs developed the tools and institutions that led to capitalism.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.
Capitalism, an economic system based on the private ownership of productive power, made the Industrial Revolution possible by creating demands for goods and incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in production. Capitalism had its origins in merchant activity, but by the 17th and 18th centuries, it began to penetrate traditional agricultural and industrial sectors. New crops from the Americas and new ideas about agricultural production led to an Agricultural Revolution in Europe, resulting in growing populations and the creation of new wealth among landowners. Capitalism matured as an economic system in the Atlantic World. Investors used capital to buy land in the Americas and captive labor from Africa to produce consumer goods like tobacco, sugar, and cotton for growing world markets. Throughout the period, capitalist merchants tapped existing handicraft producers of manufactured goods, using saved capital to finance industrial production on a growing scale.
In this unit, we analyze the effect of the Agricultural Revolution on Europe and see how it encouraged the growth of capitalism in Europe, across the Atlantic, and around the world.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hour.
The Industrial Revolution began in England, which was, by 1750, one of the wealthiest capitalist states in the world. The revolution started in England's textile industry, which was struggling to produce goods cheaper and faster for growing consumer markets. Business people and factory workers, rather than scientists, developed key inventions to solve major bottlenecks in textile production. As the production scale grew, the factory emerged as a centralized location where wage laborers could work on machines using raw materials provided by capitalist entrepreneurs. By the late 18th century, steam power was adapted to power factory machinery, sparking an even more significant surge in industrial machines' size, speed, and productivity. New ideas revolutionized heavy industries like ironworking, and new transportation technologies were developed to move products further and faster.
Growing businesses soon outstripped the financial abilities of individuals and their families, leading to legal reforms that allowed corporations to own and operate businesses. While England initially tried to protect its industrial technologies, the central ideas of the Industrial Revolution quickly spread to continental Europe and North America.
In this unit, we examine the significant ideas and events of the Industrial Revolution, study the effects the Industrial Revolution had on the economy of England, and see how the process of economic change spread to other parts of the world.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.
Industrialization not only changed the way societies produced goods. It also transformed the way people lived, turning rural towns into urban manufacturing centers. Newly industrialized societies faced health problems and challenges to conventional family and social structures. It also helped intensify the urbanization of European society, as more factories and industrial production moved from the countryside and city periphery into the urban centers. Factory owners preferred this centralization since it promoted social control of the working classes, who may have had more independence if they had lived further from their workplaces.
Politics in industrialized societies were transformed as traditional landed elites gave way to industrial capitalists and the burgeoning "middle class" of businessmen and professionals. Successful working-class entrepreneurs and small business people emerged as an expanding urban middle class. These individuals were not part of the traditional aristocracy or the peasant or working classes but created a new middle-class culture. Workers also began to challenge traditional political systems, drawing on new ideologies to suggest alternatives to the developing capitalist-industrial world in which they lived.
This unit will survey the sweeping changes that industrialization brought to Europe and the rest of the world between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries. We will then examine how working- and middle-class individuals and organizations used these changes to challenge traditional elites.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a so-called "Second Industrial Revolution" centered on electronics and chemicals, bringing new changes to industrial production and everyday life. While the inventions and early successes of the first Industrial Revolution were the work of small businessmen and individual capitalists, the innovations of the second phase came out of large business organizations. Fierce competition among these companies led to the consolidation of industries by monopoly firms or the creation of cartels.
New ideas changed how people worked within these giant firms, resulting in even more significant improvements in the speed and efficiency of production. Workers reacted to these changes by forming political associations and seeking bargaining power with large capitalists. This period represented a transition to a mass society for all classes, characterized by the large-scale marketing and distribution of products, services, and ideas. New machines and new media turned individuals living in limited regions into consumers of products and information from a vast national or international community.
In this unit, we examine the institutional, political, and social changes that came to industrialized societies in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 12 hours.
While the Industrial Revolution brought great prosperity to many parts of the world, it also ushered in many new challenges. In 1914, tensions between capitalist powers spilled over into war, and the new weapons of the industrial age produced a horrific slaughter in Europe. After the war, industrial powers struggled to recover in a decade of economic highs and lows. The weak global economy collapsed in 1929, causing widespread unemployment in industrialized societies. The failure of the international community to maintain prosperity and peace led to the Second World War, which devastated Europe and Asia. After the war, the United States and its allies devised a new system for managing the international economy. In contrast, the Soviet Union and its allies pulled new satellite states into a socialist economic system.
In this unit, we examine the effects of industrialization on war and the effects of war on industrialization. We will also study the economic crises of the 1920s and 1930s and compare different recovery strategies.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.
Recall the beliefs of political activists, such as Karl Marx (from Unit 1), who criticized the exploitative nature of industrial capitalism. Marx encouraged the proletariat to rise up in revolt against the bourgeoisie to promote better living and working conditions. This sentiment provided the philosophical basis that fueled worker and peasant rebellions and the communist revolutions in Russia in 1917 and China in 1949.
After the First World War, a revolutionary government in Russia tried to create an alternative model to capitalist industrial development. The new Soviet Union accomplished massive industrial feats before and during the Second World War, but at enormous cost to the environment and Soviet citizens. In China, a successful communist revolution ushered in another experiment in socialist industrialization after 1949, first along Soviet lines and then according to the plans of Mao Zedong. After the Second World War, leaders in India and other newly independent states tried to find a "third way" of development, rejecting capitalism and Soviet-style socialism as pathways to industrialization.
This unit examines alternative plans for industrial development from the Soviet Union, China, and India. We analyze the efficacy and costs of these different approaches, comparing them to the model followed by capitalist states. We also examine the factors that contributed to two very different outcomes in China and Japan as the forces of industrialization began to affect them in the 19th century.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.
This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!
Course Feedback Survey
Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.
If you come across any urgent problems, email firstname.lastname@example.org or post in our discussion forum.
Certificate Final Exam
Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.
To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.
Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.
- Receive a grade Receive a pass grade