MSc International Development: Globalisation, Trade and Industry / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Development Fundamentals

Unit code MGDI60411
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? No


This core course offers a critical and comprehensive introduction to the key aspects of development theory, paradigms, history and institutions from an interdisciplinary perspective, and thus provides the foundation for all elements of the umbrella MSc programme in International Development.

It starts by mapping out an understanding of development as historical change, with a particular focus on modernity as well as key moments within the colonial encounter that led to the onset of capitalism and state formation and their contestations in the global south, and examines the continuities and ruptures between colonialism and the post-war development project.

The next part of the course covers the main theoretical schools of thought on development, from the grand narratives through the impasse and onto more contemporary approaches, including post-colonial theory, environmentalism, feminism and new attempts to explain development as a fundamentally political process. These sessions will be explicitly inter-disciplinary in character, with ‘social approaches’ compared and contrasted with approaches from economics and political economy more broadly.

The course then turns to the main institutions involved in promoting development, including global governance institutions, the ‘developmental’ state, markets and civil society. The course closes with a session on whether international development should be reframed as part of a broader project of social justice.



The unit aims to provide:

  • A critical overview of the main aspects of development theory and paradigms, development as historical change and development institutions.
  • A critical understanding of how different disciplinary perspectives shape international development theory and practice and its analysis in a globalised world.
  • An opportunity for students to develop their range of competencies in transferable areas, including research, analysis, team-work and both written and verbal forms of communication


Teaching and learning methods

9 x 2-hr Lectures and 3 x 2-hr Tutorials.

Use of Blackboard to facilitate the distribution of online material

Intellectual skills

  • Recognise and understand some of the reasons for the similarities and differences between and within developing and industrialised societies and economies;
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically analyse material in the readings and present their arguments coherently both through written assignments and oral presentation.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students should:

  • Have improved their writing skills, including presentation, content and analysis;
  • Have improved their time management skills;
  • Have improved their presentation skills, through practicing group presentations in tutorials;
  • Have improved their group work skills, by working on presentation with their peers;
  • Have improved their communication skills, through presentations and discussions.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 During this course unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

  • critical thinking, reflection, self-awareness and an ability to take responsibility for your own learning;
  • information handling skills, evaluation and analysis of different kinds of evidence;
  • an ability to assess the merits of contrasting theories, explanations and their policy implications;
  • an ability to develop, articulate and sustain logical, structured and reasoned arguments in both written and oral contexts;
  • time management.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Recommended reading

Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J. (2012). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. New York:  Random House.

Bernstein, H. (2006) ‘Studying Development/Development Studies’ African Studies 65(1), pp. 45-62.

Chatterjee, P. (2004) The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World, New York: Columbia University Press.

Chang, H.-J. (2008) Bad Samaritans. The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Desai, V. and Potter, R. (eds) (2013) The Companion to Development Studies, London: Arnold (second edition)

Dicken, P. (2011) Global Shift: Mapping Changing Contours of the Global Economy London: Sage (6th edition).

Gereffi, G. (2005) The offshoring of Jobs and Global Development, Geneva: International Labour Organisation

Hunt, D. (1989), Economic Theories of Development: An analysis of Competing Paradigms, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf. 

Kothari, U. (ed.) (2005) A Radical History of Development Studies. Individuals, Institutions and Ideologies, London: Zed Books.

Kothari, U. and Minogue, M. (eds) (2001) Development Theory and Practice: Critical Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Meier, G. and Rauch, J. (2000), Leading Issues in Economic Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press (7th edition).

North, D.C., Walliss, J.J. and Weingest, B.R. (2009). Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

                      Todaro, M. and Smith, S. (2009) Economic Development, London: Pearson (10th edition).

Woolcock, M., Szreter, S. & Rao, V. (2011) ‘How and Why Does History Matter for Development Policy?’, Journal of Development Studies 47(1), pp. 70-96.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rory Horner Unit coordinator

Additional notes

The course coordinator is Dr Rory Horner. The course will be team taught.

GDI Programmes on which course unit is offered:
MSc International Development (all pathways) (core)

Pre-requisites: None

Part-time students should take this course unit in their first year.


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