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Unit information: Development Studies in 2015/16

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Unit name Development Studies
Unit code POLI21213
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Reverend. Martin Gainsborough
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

For people in the West, the notion that development is something which happens in far away places and is about doing good is very deep-rooted. However, what constitutes development, how to achieve it, and whether it is achievable or desirable takes us into a political and ethical minefield. This unit seeks to offer students the tools to come to an informed view about different models of development, whether there are better or worse ways of intervening in poorer countries, or whether it may be better to do nothing at all. The unit considers a series of issues including economic takeoff in Pacific-Asia, ideas of dependency, neo-liberal theories of development, including the rise of the governance agenda, post-development, and the politics of international aid. The aim will be to link theory and practice and to show the relevance of past debates to contemporary issues.


  • To provide an historically informed introduction to the theory and practice of development since 1945
  • To consider the strengths and weaknesses of different ways of thinking about and doing development
  • To offer students the opportunity to probe the political and ethical dimensions of a number of areas of debate in the field of development studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the unit the student will have developed the following:

  1. An understanding of the way in which the theory and practice of development has evolved since 1945
  2. An ability to adopt a critical position in relation to different ways of thinking about and doing development
  3. An understanding of the politics and ethical conundrums associated with different approaches to development pursued by local, national and global actors

Teaching Information

2hr lecture and 1hr seminar.

Assessment Information

25% country report (2000) and 75% essay (2000)

Reading and References

  • Desai, Vandana and Robert B. Potter (eds), The Companion to Development Studies (London: Hodder Education, 2008)
  • Hoogvelt, Ankie, Globalisation and the Postcolonial World: the New Political Economy of Development (Basingstoke: Palgrave and Macmillan, 2001)
  • Leys, Colin, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory (Oxford: James Currey, 1996)
  • Martinussen, John, Society, State and Market: A Guide to Competing Theories of Development (London: Zed Books, 1999)
  • Payne, Anthony (ed.), The New Regional Politics of Development (Basingstoke: Palgrave and Macmillan, 2004)