MSc International Development: Environment Climate Change and Development / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Global Inequalities and Social Development

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI61461
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? Yes


 This course unit deals with the analysis of global inequalities and how those have underpinned social development agendas and policies over time. It traces the emergence of the contemporary social development agenda back to the colonial encounter and other key historical moments and interrogates continuities and differences over time. Furthermore it looks at the relationship between social development and entrenched global inequalities with a specific focus on various social exclusions. Lastly, conceptualisation of global solidarity are being discussed and the ways in which they shape social development agendas and policies, and with what effect.

Case study evidence will be used to deepen theoretical insights, and through those case studies the course unit will draw directly on the latest research in the field, including that produced by international research centres based at GDI.






The unit aims to provide:


  • A critical overview of theoretical approaches to understand global inequalities and different social policy approaches that have emerged as a result at local, regional and global level
  • An understanding of how contemporary social development agendas are rooted in colonial history and how those have been adapted over time
  •  An in-depth understanding of entrenched global inequalities around gender, race and social exclusions of various kinds
  • A comparison of different forms of global solidarity and how those translate into different social development agendas and policies
  •  An opportunity for students to develop a range of competencies in transferable areas, including research, analysis, team-work and both written and verbal forms of communication



Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will occur mainly through three-hour composite sessions, which will generally each include an element of lecturing, student-led presentations or small group-work, and plenary discussion. Blackboard will be used to share key resources and stimulate discussions of critical issues amongst course participants.


Knowledge and understanding

  • A thorough knowledge and critical understanding of different theoretical and disciplinary perspectives and approaches to investigating global inequalities and social development
  • A thorough knowledge and critical understanding of key dynamics of social exclusions at the global level
  • A specific understanding of some of the key issues in contemporary social development

Intellectual skills

  • The analytical skills required to critically evaluate and employ different theories of inequality, social development and solidarity

Practical skills

  • Professionally-oriented skills related to investigating, evaluating and critiquing different social development agendas

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Improved competence in transferable areas, including developing reasoned arguments, gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a wide variety of sources, undertaking both team-based and independent work to deadlines, and both written and verbal forms of communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided via integrated tutorial element. Written feedback will be given on essay plans and full summative feedback on assessed coursework via Blackboard

Recommended reading


Allen, J. 2003. Lost Geographies of Power, Blackwell, Oxford.

Atkinson, A. 2015. Inequality: What Can be Done?, Cambridge, MASS: Harvard University press.

Boltanski, L. 1999. Distant Suffering, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.-C. 1977. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, London: Sage.

Boushey, H.; DeLong, J.B. & Steinbaum, M. (eds) 2017. After Piketty. The Agenda for Economics and Inequality. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Brooks, A. 2017. The End of Development. A Global History of Poverty and Prosperity, London: Zed Books.

Deaton, A. 2013. The great Escape: health, wealth and the origins of inequality, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Fassin, D. 2012. Humanitarian Reason. A Moral History of the Present, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fassin, D. & Pandolfi, M. 2010. Contemporary States of Emergency. The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Intervention, New York: Zone Books.

Featherstone, D. 2012. Solidarity. Hidden histories and geographies of internationalism, London : Zed Books.

Ferguson, J. 2006. Global Shadows: Africa and the Neoliberal World Order, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Fukuyama, F. 1996. Trust: the Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, London: Penguin.

Gough, I. and Wood, G. eds 2004. Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gough, I. and McGregor, A. 2007. Wellbeing in Developing Countries. From Theory to Research, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holton, R. 2014. Global Inequalities, London: Palgrave.

Hoogvelt, A. 1997. Globalisation and the Postcolonial World. The Political Economy of Development, London, Macmillan.

Kothari, U. ed. 2005. A Radical History of Development Studies, London: Zed.

Kothari,,U. and Minogue, M. eds 2002. Development Theory and Practice: critical perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mamdani, M. 1996. Citizen and Subject,  Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

Midgley, J. 2013. Social Development: Theory and Practice, London: Sage.

Milanovic, B. 2016. Global Inequality. A New Approach for the Age of Globalization. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Mosse, D. 2011. Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development, New York: Berghahn Press.

Müller, T. 2014. Legacies of Socialist Solidarity - East Germany in Mozambique, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Piketty, T. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press.

Said E.  1979. Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books.

Sen, A. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wilkinson, R. and K. Pickett 2009. The Spirit Level. Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

World Inequality Report 2018,

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 134

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Foster Unit coordinator

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