International Development

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

The module aims to introduce many of the central issues in the international development. In particular, it aims to:

  • Explore the challenges faced by people and governments in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Dispel some of the myths about developing countries (relentless famine, poverty, misery, etc.)
  • Introduce the key ideas/theories that have informed development studies
  • Make you aware that history matters
  • Help you to understand some of the complexities of key themes in development: aid, governance, MDGs/SDGs, the international system.

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 has the overall objective of linking ideas about development with the real world policy environment of developing countries. You will be encouraged to develop the skills necessary to understand, analyse and draw conclusions on the current state of development thinking and its impact on people living in poor countries. Throughout, the emphasis is on you developing an understanding of the evolution of development ideas over the last half-century or so and its implications for present day thinking about development. 

The module 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
  • History and development
  • Ideas in development
  • Deliberate efforts for development

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

  • Have an in-depth understanding of competing development ideas - their origins, their continuities and their differences - and to critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses;
  • Develop an understanding of the different ways in which development is measured, including their strengths and drawbacks;
  • Distinguish between and critique different approaches to development;
  • Understand and critique how theories of development relate to specialist approaches to development;
  • Apply analytical and theoretical thinking to contemporary development situations.


Assessment of the module is through two written assignments. There is also a formative assignment.

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.