MSc Development Finance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60362
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module provides students with an understanding of the history of microfinance and challenges faced by the industry. It explores the theoretical base and practices of microfinance, and major debates in the area. It also helps students develop a critical thinking on the effectiveness of microfinance as a poverty reduction tool in less-developed countries.


During the last four decades, a `microfinance industry' has developed that seeks to provide low-income people with micro-financial services while being financially self-sustaining. The literature on microfinance has been characterised by different trends during this period and this module aims to analyse these trends in detail, particularly in developing countries and to explore key contemporary issues in the sector. This is done by exploring the history, theoretical base, development and challenges in the sector.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course unit, students will be able to

  • demonstrate the awareness of current issues and debate in the field of microfinance
  • analyse and evaluate microfinance experiences and case studies, and critically assess proposals for microfinance initiatives.


introduction to microfinance

macro aspects of microfinance

microfinance and poverty

microfinance and gender empowerment

microfinance innovation and micro insurance

regulation of microfinance

microfinance and financial inclusion

governance of microfinance institutions

performance of microfinance institutions

 impact assessments of microfinance

Teaching and learning methods

Identify the supplementary methods used in the provision of teaching and learning on this course unit.

This is additional to that identified by the Scheduled Activity Hours and Assessment Methods fields.

The major teaching and learning strategies for this course are lectures, discussions and independent learning. Lectures will be used mainly for the exposition of concepts and methodologies thereby contributing to the primary objective of providing students with an in depth knowledge of the major issues in microfinance. Students are expected to go through some of the reading materials before the lectures in order to benefit during the discussion. In-class discussion is an important part of the teaching and learning strategy and the students will have an opportunity to consolidate, develop and apply the knowledge acquired from the lectures and independent learning. In independent learning students are encouraged to broaden and deepen their understanding of the module by studying on their own main, and utilise and snowball the resources mentioned and discussed in the classes.

Knowledge and understanding

obtain the knowledge of the origin and development of microfinance, develop an understanding of the theoretical base and different models of microfinance, and obtain a comprehensive understanding of empirical evidence of microfinance’s impact on poverty reduction.

Intellectual skills

•           Critically demonstrate the awareness of current issues and debate in the field of microfinance

•           Analyse, and evaluate microfinance experiences and case studies and critically assess proposals for microfinance initiatives

Practical skills

Critical thinking

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Presentation, teamwork, essay writing

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%

Feedback methods

Written feedback will be given through Turnitin.

Recommended reading

Specific readings are given at individual lectures. It is important that you read them before going to the classes.

General readings on microfinance

  • David Hulme and Thankom Arun (2009), Microfinance - A Reader, Routledge.
  • Beatriz Armendariz and Jonathan Morduch (2010), The Economics of Microfinance (second edition), MIT Press.
  • Ditcher Thomas and Malcolm Harper (2007) Whats wrong with Microfinance?, Practical Action Publishing.
  • Roodman, D. (2012), Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance, CGD Books.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Yin-Fang Zhang Unit coordinator

Return to course details