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Development & Change - SPY00131M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sophie MacKinder
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module brings together debates about the changing institutional context for international development, and the theory and practice of change and development, to build a framework for identifying, planning and intervening in change processes.

The module builds on those studied in the first year to examine the international and local context in which development interventions take place, and how these contexts have transformed over the last two decades through paradigmatic shifts and the proliferation of development actors. It draws selectively on i) technical literature and frameworks for change and ii) contemporary sources examining issues of power, complexity, accountability, culture, capacity and change in development/aid institutions to provide tools and frameworks  for analysing and managing change in development contexts. Finally it provides a bridge to Reflective Practice for Professional Development I (which students will have completed previously) and Reflective Practice for Professional Development II (studied concurrently), by shifting focus to the personal level and the change agent as reflective practitioner.

The module shares some ground with one taken on the Masters of Public Administration on ‘Leading and Managing Organisational Change’, but its learning outcomes and content reflect an international development focus.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Reflect critically on theories and frameworks for analysing social and organisational change, and on their relevance for contemporary international development contexts

  • Select and apply frameworks, strategies, tools and techniques to identify, analyse and/or manage ongoing or potential change situations

  • Demonstrate understanding of how their own values, ethics and personal theories of change (can) influence change processes

In addition to the content-related outcomes of the module, students will also be able to further enhance their capacity as reflective practitioners, by developing deeper awareness of how norms and power structures influence change processes in general and their own role within them


Module content

The module addresses ‘how change happens’ at international, national and local levels; and within organisations and in society as a whole. It introduces core concepts of complex systems, power, institutions and norms as a useful vocabulary for discussing and analysing change in social systems (including development organisations/programmes). It considers the changing context for international development, including the role of new actors and alliances, and the implications of this context for the management of change.

The module draws on organisational theory, referring in particularly to organisational development and to organisational culture, and applies this material to help develop understanding of capacity development (formerly known as capacity building) in international development contexts. It also considers the personal dimension of change, and investigates the relationship between the ‘personal’ and ‘professional’.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

The lead marker (the module tutor) will include comments about the content, structure, and evidence used etc. to provide you with constructive information that will enable you to improve on future work. The feedback a tutor can offer can be invaluable to your studies, so it is important you read this carefully

We aim to return your marked work to you within one month of its submission.

Feedback will be given in three ways:

(1) Comments within the actual text will highlight specific points and examples that the marker wants to draw to your attention.

(2) The marking criteria will be highlighted to show how your assignment has been rated against those criteria. This will enable you to calibrate your performance against a consistent scale, and therefore to aim to improve in specific areas.

(3) Finally the marker will provide a narrative summary in which the main points will be set out and any major areas for improvement highlighted.

Indicative reading

Burnes, B., & Cooke, B. (2012). Review article: The past, present and future of organization development: Taking the long view. Human Relations, 65(11), 1395-1429. doi:10.1177/0018726712450058

Clarke, P., & Oswald, K. (2010). Introduction: Why Reflect Collectively on Capacities for Change? 1. IDS Bulletin, 41(3), 1-12.

Eyben, R., Kidder, T., Rowlands], J., & Bronstein, A. (2008). Thinking about change for development practice: a case study from Oxfam GB. Development in Practice, 18(2), 201-212.

Green, D. (2017). How Change Happens - a summary (pp. 1-7) Retrieved from

Kotter, J.P. (2007) ‘Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail', Harvard Business Review, Vol 85, No. 1, pp. 96-103.

Piber, E. (2015). A change from within: UNICEF’s shift towards policy work. In K. Caraher & C. Snell (Eds.), Government, Policy and Management: A Reader (pp. 24-32). York: University of York. Retrieved from


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.