Critical Approaches to Development

School: School of Government and Society
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Lecturers: Tom Hewitt and Fiona Nunan

This module gives you a broad introduction to different approaches to development. You will critically examine development theories, their evolution over the last half century and contemporary applications of development theory.

The module is delivered via Canvas (our virtual learning environment), with hard copy materials. Students engage in structured group discussion board activities with the tutors. As this is the first module in the programme, they also get the opportunity to produce a trial assignment, the mark for which does not count towards their final assessment.

The module is designed to give you a solid introduction to the key aspects of the topic that will serve as the analytical basis for much of the rest of your Masters studies. A number of the issues are dealt with in more detail in other modules. In addition, you may want to pursue some of the themes in your dissertation.

Topics explored include:

  • The meaning of development and its measurement
  • Theories of development
  • Development now
  • Economic, social and political development

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

  • Have a solid understanding of development theories, and be able to discuss their strengths and weaknesses;
  • Understand, and critique, the principle paradigms and issues relevant to the political economy of poverty;
  • Understand different ways in which development is measured, including their strengths and drawbacks;
  • Appraise the role of the state in the governance of developing countries;
  • Critique the role of international institutions in the processes of development;
  • Analyse the impact of globalisation on poverty reduction; and
  • Have an understanding of how different academic disciplines contribute to development studies


A learning diary which is written over the course of the six week module (50%), and a 3000 word assignment (50%).

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.