MSc Global Development / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Citizen-Led Development

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60561
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


The aim of this course unit is to understand and analyse the contribution of citizen and/or grassroots-led development to achieving inclusive and pro-poor development. The course provides a unique learning experience through a set of lectures given by members of Shack/Slum Dwellers International. To date, we have had community activists from SDI Federations in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya come to Manchester for this teaching.

In its pedagogical approach – bringing community activists from informal settlements of the Global South to share their experiences and insight into the classroom – the course also seeks to bring alternative voices and perspectives into our construction of development knowledge. In doing so the course encourages students to reflect upon and draw across different forms of knowledge and assess their contributions to our understanding of development processes.


The aim of this course unit is to understand and analyse the contribution of citizen or grassroots-led development to achieving inclusive and pro-poor development, and to educate professionals about the contribution of urban poor groups to development.

Teaching and learning methods

This course does not run like standard modules. Following on from a series of lectures, in Reading Week we bring over SDI members for 1.5 days of intensive teaching workshops in the classroom. These are very interactive and participatory sessions, offering students the chance to gain unique insight into urban development challenges and processes and the opportunity to interact and ask questions with SDI members.

Blackboard is used as the platform for sharing information and resources about this course unit. The course handbook, e-copies of lecture presentations and any announcements related to the course are accessible through Blackboard. If for some reason you cannot access the course unit page let the course unit convenors know without delay. You must check your university email account regularly to receive any course updates through Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Be knowledgeable about challenges of urban poverty and the ways in which urban governance and politics may exclude certain groups of city residents.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the tools, methods, practices and rituals used by SDI affiliates and have an understanding of their significance to citizen, grassroots and community-led development.



Intellectual skills

  • Understand the significance of citizen and grassroots-led development in terms of social justice, participation, rights-based approaches to development and empowerment
  • Engage critically with relevant theories and conceptual frameworks.
  • To reflect critically on what academic knowledge can learn from real-life insight from informal settlement residents, and vice versa.

Practical skills

  • Have confidence working in small teams of classmates
  • Have confidence in presenting to the class.
  • Develop skills for presenting their research and findings to different audiences
  • Begin to think about research skills through the ability to engage with and ask questions to SDI members.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Self awareness and an ability to take responsibility for your own learning
  • Time management
  • Confidence in justifying your arguments in front of others.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Set exercise 40%

Feedback methods

Feedbck will come through in-class interations; students have an opportunity to submit a one-page essay outline for feedback; formal feedback will be provided on assessed coursework.

Recommended reading

Bayat, A. (2000) From 'Dangerous Classes' to 'Quiet Rebels': Politics of the Urban Subaltern in the Global South. International Sociology 15 (3): 533-57

Satterthwaite, D. and D. Mitlin (2014) Reducing Urban Poverty in the Global South, Abingdon: Routledge (Especially chapters 4 Citizen-Led Poverty Reduction and 5 Understanding Pro-Poor Politics and Pro-Poor Transformation).

Mitlin, D. (2018) ‘Beyond contention: urban social movements and their multiple approaches to secure transformation’ Environment and Urbanization

Mitlin, D. (2008) ‘With and Beyond the State – Co-Production as a Route to Political Influence, Power, Transformation for Grassroots Organizations. Environment and Urbanization. 20(2): 339 – 360.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Practical classes & workshops 15
Tutorials 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 123

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicola Banks Unit coordinator

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