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Introduction to the Politics of Development - POL00017I

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  • Department: Politics and International Relations
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Phil Roberts
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

Development is both a process of change over time (e.g. industrialization, economic growth, or the expansion of freedom) and an intentional project organized by particular groups, and for particular interests. By examining the history of development ideas and core contemporary issues in development, we will evaluate who benefits from different framings of this process.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module takes two different approaches to studying the politics of development.

In Term One, we teach the historical emergence of different Theories of Development. These include classical political economy, modernization theory, dependency theory, neoclassical theory, and feminism.

In Term Two, we look at Contemporary Issues in Development and link them to the theories from Term 1. These include trade, aid, finance and financialization, and environmental sustainability.

In this way, we encourage students to think about how theorizing the development process is inherently political, and to understand how theories are used to confront pressing problems in development.

Module learning outcomes

  • Be able to distinguish and critically evaluate different theories of development
  • Understand contemporary issues in development, the theoretical foundations of proposed solutions, and their political implications
  • To have a good empirical and theoretical understanding of the role of various domestic and international institutions in the development process.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor?s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days after submission; and 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.

Indicative reading

Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2012). Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty. Crown Books.

Kothari, U. (Ed.). (2019). A radical history of development studies: individuals, institutions and ideologies. Zed Books Ltd..

Reinert, E. S. (2019). How rich countries got rich... and why poor countries stay poor. Hachette UK.

Sen. A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press.

Visvanathan, N., Duggan, L., Nisonoff, L., & Wiegersma, N. (Eds.). (1997). The women, gender, and development reader. New Africa Books.

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.