MSc Digital Development

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Fundamentals of Information and Information Systems

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60481
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


The unit will be of particular value for those involved, or likely to be involved, in a planning, management or user role vis-à-vis digital information systems.



This module aims to evaluate both the potential and the reality of IS success/failure through an understanding of information, of information technology, of information systems, and of the contexts – especially those of developing/transitional country organisations – in which these systems are used, analysing causes of IS failure.




·                An Overview of Information Systems

·                Basic Models Of Information and Information Systems

·                The Value of Information And Decisions

·                Understanding Information Technology and Information Systems

·                Evaluating Information Systems Benefits and Costs

·                Factors Explaining IS Success and Failure

·                Models Explaining IS Success and Failure

Teaching and learning methods

Due to COVID-19 restriction, teaching and learning will primarily take place in the online space, mostly asynchronous (working and interacting in your own time), with synchronous tutorial sessions scheduled most weeks.

Students are guided through detailed learning materials for each week. The study materials, activities, readings and guidance are made available through Blackboard. This will include micro lectures on selected topics in video format. Students will interact with each other and the tutors through the online discussion board where everyone will be expected to make weekly contributions. 

Weekly tutorial sessions will be conducted in-person/over ZOOM where small groups will workshop and discuss problems, case studies and exercises related to the theme covered in the previous week.

Students are expected to engage with e-learning materials – including extensive session notes, model solutions to exercises, links to research papers and websites - provided through Blackboard.

The course is highly participative, encouraging students to share knowledge and experience. It is also practical, encouraging students to apply models and theory to real-world case studies, with a particular emphasis on developing country contexts.

Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able to:

- define ‘information’, 'information technology' and ‘information system’

- understand structural and process models of information systems

- compare hard, soft and hybrid perspectives on information systems

- describe the generic role and value of information in organisational tasks of decision-making and communication

- explain how contextual – including developing/transitional economy-specific – factors affect information and information


- describe the components, applications, benefits and costs of organisational information systems

Intellectual skills

- link theory to real-world practice.

- critically analyse different approaches to understanding IS.

Practical skills

- evaluate existing information systems using models including design—reality gaps

- evaluate the role of information and information systems in an organisation with which they are familiar

- utilise structural and process models of information systems

- analyse an IS and its role in an organisation from a socio- technical perspective.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- work in groups

- discussion and debating skills

- literature reviewing

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Problem solving
Written communication
Information management

Assessment methods

- Aim to evaluate a type of Information System
- 1500 words
- 40% weighting
- Feedback via Blackboard within 15 working days

- Aim to evaluate an Information Systems within its context to ascertain its success or failure and the reasons therefore
- 3000 words
- 60% weighting
- Feedback via Blackboard within 15 working days


Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided TO students:
- Individual summative and formative written/audio feedback on all assessed work
- Formative feedback to the group following completion of assessed work
- Formative group and individual feedback whilst preparing assessed work
- Formative group and individual feedback during weekly tutorial and online discussions

Feedback FROM students:
- Direct feedback to the lecturer throughout the duration of the course unit
- A mid-term online survey on teaching and learning experiences thereby creating opportunity to respond to concerns/suggestions during the term
- A course unit feedback survey after completing the course unit towards further improvements in subsequent years

Recommended reading

Alter, S. (2002) Information Systems. Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, CA.

Bocij, P., Chaffey, D., Greasley, A. & Hickie, S. (2019) Business Information Systems, 6th edn, Pearson, Harlow, UK

Heeks, R.B. (2006) Implementing and Managing eGovernment, Sage, London.

Laudon, K.C. & Laudon, J.P. (2018) Management Information Systems, 15th edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ

Digital Development Working Paper Series, GDI:

Useful Journals:
    • Annals of Cases on Information Technology (actual name is: Journal of Cases on Information Technology)
    • Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries []
    • Information Systems Research
    • Information Technology for Development
    • Information Technologies and International Development
    • Journal of Global Information Technology Management
    • Journal of Information Technology Case and Application Research
    • Journal of Information Technology
    • Management Information Systems Quarterly

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 1.5
Tutorials 9
Work based learning 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 129.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jaco Renken Unit coordinator

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