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Foundational Issues in Global Development - POL00009C

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Phil Roberts
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

Study of global development is often limited by the confines of a single discipline. This module breaks from that practice by taking an interdisciplinary and problem-based approach to global development. The program approaches the phenomenon of development in its broadest sense as the study of change, rather than in its narrow hegemonic conceptualization as technical interventions into underdeveloped spaces. The module considers a range of theories and approaches relevant to global development across disciplinary contexts and explores basic research strategies to identify, evaluate and apply those theories to a broad range of integrated and practical issues relevant to global development, such as inequality, trade, discrimination, social services provision, and poverty.

Professional requirements

No professional requirements.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

This Module aims to offer an interdisciplinary, problem-based approach to understanding global development along with opportunities for preliminary evaluations of novel solutions to some of the fundamental challenges facing the world. It provides the opportunity to apply a range of disciplinary approaches to aid understandings of global inequalities. The module provides structured support as you move in the Global Development degree learning community, which, for many of you, will involve new ways of learning, including problem-based learning (PBL). You will start to develop key skills associated with scholarship on global development, including those related to the undertaking of research, the development of reasoned arguments, the use of evidence, and the practice of critical evaluation. You will have the chance to reflect on the development of your learning, and to begin to consider strategies and techniques for developing your competence as a scholar. You will also develop an awareness and understanding of the ways in which states, international organisations, the private sector, non-government organisations and social movements interact in contributing to, and resolving, problems such as global exploitation, environmental degradation and injustice.

Module learning outcomes

You should have obtained a basic understanding of key and core principles and theories relevant to global development across a range of interdisciplinary contexts and plan basic research strategies to identify, evaluate and apply those principles and theories to a broad range of integrated and practical issues relevant to global development.

Apply and adapt basic problem-solving skills developed through problem-based learning - analysing facts and identifying theoretical and practical issues - to develop basic mechanisms to address new and unfamiliar problems.

Develop a basic approach to constructing arguments, theories and solutions to interdisciplinary issues and problems associated with global development, presenting basic academic arguments that engage with a range of relevant disciplines; supported by evidence.

Begin to integrate and adapt practical, academic communication skills both verbally and in writing, adapted to providing practical advice for a variety of simulated stakeholders, through an introduction to problem-based learning.

Begin to build an awareness of interdisciplinary perspectives and interests, capable of taking into account ethical, social, political, environmental, historical, financial, policy, human rights, ethnic, gender and other interest considerations when evaluating and dealing with problems relevant to global development.

Begin to develop skills to work independently and as part of a group, drawing upon personal and interpersonal skills and attitudes developed as part of a global development study group.

Begin to record, reflect on and evaluate individual strengths, weaknesses and progress in personal learning and development, to then be able to have the tools to start to identify and set future learning requirements and career goals to further improve individual knowledge and skills.

Module content

Learning on this module contributes directly to Issues and Skills in Global Development, taught in the second year. Indicative subject content includes: 1) What is Development - Reflections around what development is and how different stakeholders understand the term differently, 2) Global Governance of Development - The role of international trade in development theory, practice and history 3) Social Programs - Review of basic models of welfare provision in development, including targeted vs. universal coverage and public vs. private provision, as well as a basic introduction to the political economy of welfare services and poverty reduction programs 4) Marginalised groups - Women in Development (WID), Gender and Development (GAD), Feminist movements in the Global South, power, post-development, feminist theories 5) Sustainability - Responses to climate change, global public goods, governance of climate change policies, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), mitigation and adaptation, climate financing.

Indicative skills include: 1) Working in a group, 2) Leadership skills, 3) Communicate with a basic level of clarity and precision with student and staff colleagues, 3) Undertake, describe and reflect on basic research tasks relevant to global development , 4) Analyse and evaluate global development issues in a range of scenarios and suggest solutions to global development problems, 5) Develop reasoned arguments and practice basic critical evaluation in relation to global development, 6) Reflect and draw conclusions on the development of your learning.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 30
Summative Individual Self Eval : Summative Individual Self Reflection and In Class Contribution
N/A 10
Group Presentation
N/A 20
Problem Based Learning Project : Summer Portfolio Project
N/A 40

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 30
N/A 40
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open exam : 4 hour open exam
4 hours 20

Module feedback

Students will receive timely written feedback on their formative and summative assessment, no later than 20 working days after submission/presentation. The module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

The feedback on the formative presentation given in week 6 will be given the following week, in order to be helpful for the students' preparation for the presentation in week 10.

Indicative reading

Foundational Issues in Global Development forms a part of the problem-based learning component of the Global Development undergraduate program. PBL does not involve the use of 'reading lists' in the conventional sense. However, a range of texts will be presented in a reading guide for students. Some examples of texts that will be included are: Fraser, Nancy. 2013. Fortunes of Feminism - From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. Verso.

Guzman, Martin (ed). 2018. Toward a Just Society - Joseph Stiglitz and Twenty-First Century Economics. Columbia University Press.

Kabeer, Naila. 1994. Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought. Verso.

Kothari, Uma. 2005. A Radical History of Development Studies: Individuals, Institutions and Ideologies. Zed Books.

Meier, Gerald. 2005. Biography of a Subject - An Evolution of Development Economics. Oxford University Press.

Rist, G. 2009. The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith.

Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press.

Sumner, Andy. 2018. Development and Distribution - Structural Change in South East Asia. Oxford University Press.

UNCTAD. 2018. Trade and Development Report 2018: Power, Platforms and the Free Trade Delusion

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.