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Unit information: Theories of Development in 2021/22

Unit name Theories of Development
Unit code POLIM3018
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Rob Yates
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will take us on an intellectual journey into a range of theories that have sought to explain the process of development (or lack of it) in less-developed or postcolonial countries, and locate those theories historically and geographically. This journey begins with the theories of modernisation in the wake of the second world war and ends with the crisis of neo-liberalism and the emerging possibility of social movements and transnational alliances (best encapsulated in the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in 2002) providing an alternative globalisation that is constructed from below. This unit is only available to students registered for MSc/Diploma degrees in the Department of Politics. Please note that the Department does not permit the auditing of any of its units.

This unit aims:

  • To provide an overview of major debates in development theory
  • To locate theory within time and space in order to understand the historical, geographical, political, economic and cultural factors that gave rise to theory
  • To equip students with the necessary conceptual tools to apply theory to contemporary development problems and possibilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate a range of key theoretical debates in the field of development studies
  • Relate theories to the concrete events and realities that produced them
  • Apply key conceptual tools to contemporary development problems

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

25% 2000 word report 75% 3000 word essay


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLIM3018).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.