Development Policy and Politics

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Module Convenors: Jonathan Fisher 

Aim of the Module

The politics of a country has a profound impact on levels of development. In recent years, donors have begun talking about the importance of supporting 'pro-poor' politics but without clear consensus about what constitutes pro-poor development or whether it is either feasible or desirable.

This module looks at the issues involved in dealing with complex and often fluid political environments in developing countries, drawing comparisons within and between both countries and regions. It looks particularly at the impact of the increased emphasis on democratisation and good governance in the past decade. In addition, it covers a range of issues, including theories of political development, the 'politics of the belly', elites and politics, political culture and the role of global political institutions.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Describe and explain politics in developing countries at the national and regional levels
  • Critically analyse the concepts, theories and approaches relating to the politics of development
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of how the principles and theories of development politics may be applied to the practical situations facing policy makers in developing countries
  • Critically analyse and explain the impact of politics on poverty in developing countries
  • Evaluate a range of political analysis frameworks in the context of developing countries

Teaching and learning approach

The module will be delivered using a range of teaching and learning methods in a highly participatory environment, including interactive lectures, group discussions, case studies, videos and invited speakers.

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction: The ‘primacy of politics’ for development
  • Theories of political development
  • The role of government
  • Democracy and democratisation
  • Aid and the international politics of development
  • Political dimensions of good governance
  • Religion and politics in developing countries
  • FILM: ‘In search of Gandhi’
  • Elites and development politics
  • Rising powers and the international politics of development


The assessment for the module will consist of:

  • One  3,000 word critical learning diary delivered via a blog, worth 60% of the mark.
  • One 2,000 word essay, worth 40% of the mark.

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.