Social Analysis of Inequality, Poverty and Development

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Module Convenor:Martin Rew

Aim of the Module

Social Development concerns have been a well recognised part of the development policy debate for at least the past twenty years. However, until recently these debates have largely concentrated on the role of gender and forms of civil society intervention. Increasingly, donors and development practitioners are beginning to recognise the need for a greater sociological and social anthropological understanding of poverty and inequality, particularly in terms of how and why varying forms of power and authority are exerted, and what implications this has on dynamics of social cohesion and exclusion. This has led to an emerging focus on understanding the relevance of sociological categories of class, religion, ethnicity and gender in both disaggregating levels of poverty and inequality, and in understanding the processes which foster poverty and inequality in development.

The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of these key concepts and debates in order to enable critical evaluation of how well sociological understandings of development inform the social analysis of exclusion, poverty and inequality, as well as what implications this might have for development policy.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Describe and explain the relationships between social dynamics, poverty, inequality and development in developing country contexts and regions. 
  • Critically evaluate the key concepts and theories used in debates around social analysis and development. 
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the policy implications resulting from the social analysis of poverty and inequality in development.
  • Evaluate and use a number of analytical frameworks involved in the context of the social analysis of development.

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, student presentations and case studies.

Topics covered include:

  • Poverty and inequality 
  • Axes of social difference 
  • Gender, inequality, poverty and development 
  • Class, inequality, poverty and development  
  • Age, inequality, poverty and development 
  • Ethnicity, inequality, poverty and development 
  • Disability, inequality, poverty and development 
  • Religion, inequality, poverty and development
  • Caste, inequality, poverty and development 


The assessment for the module will consist of: 

  • Critical reflection on your presentation, worth 30% of the marks 
  • A 3,000 word essay worth 70% of the marks.

The presentation topics will be drawn from the session plan and will enable students to actively engage with material, theory and ideas.

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.