MSc Global Development (Politics, Governance and Development Policy) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Global Development Challenges

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60601
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
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit aims to: introduce students to some of the biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century.


The unit aims to: introduce students to some of the biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century. The course is complementary to the other core semester 1 course for all MSc Global Development students – Development Fundamentals - which examines history, theories and different actors in and of development. Global Development Challenges is focused on a series of contemporary mega challenges which are global in scope. They are global in the sense that they relate to both global North and South, albeit unevenly, and cannot be ‘solved’ by one part of the world alone, yet simultaneously involve major inequalities in their underlying causes and consequences.


Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will occur mainly through weekly lecture sessions and three workshops, the latter of which will be based around a mixture of small group-work and class discussions and learning. Blackboard will be used to share key resources, including readings, lecture slides and recordings, podcasts and online resources as well as pre-recorded videos in some cases.

Knowledge and understanding

•    Explain a range of mega problems across the domains of prosperity, people and planet and how they unevenly relate to different parts of the world
•    Think critically about the nature and extent of a series of contemporary challenges facing the world and the role of different actors in these, including systems of development cooperation.
•    Critically assess the relationship between major challenges facing the world, including the potential synergies and trade-offs involved

Intellectual skills

•    Analyse how different theoretical approaches provide insights into specific global challenges and their policy applications 
•    Evaluate critically the causes of global development challenges, as well as the potential and limitations of proposed solutions

Practical skills

Develop practical analysis skills, including critical reading, writing and argumentation and experience analysing and evaluating practices and policies used to achieve global development

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 independent work to deadlines, and both written and verbal forms of communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Report 30%

Feedback methods

On the assessment form via Blackboard within 3 weeks of submission

Recommended reading

Gonsior, V. and S. Klingebiel (2019). The Development Policy System under Pressure: Acknowledging Limitations, Sourcing Advantages and Moving towards a Broader Perspective. Discussion Paper 6/2019. Bonn, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik. Available here:

Gore, C. (2015) The post-2015 moment: towards sustainable development goals and a new global development paradigm, Journal of International Development, 27 (6), 717-732.

Horner, R. (2020) Beyond the limits of international development? Towards a new paradigm of global development, Progress in Human Geography, 44 (3), 415-436.

Oldekop, J., R. Horner, D. Hulme, R. Adhikari, B. Agarwal, M. Alford, O. Bakewell, N. Banks, S. Barrientos, T. Bastia, A. Bebbington, U. Das, R. Dimova, R. Duncombe, C. Enns, D. Fielding, C. Foster, T. Foster, T. Frederiksen, P. Gao, T. Gillespie, R. Heeks, S. Hickey, M. Hess, N. Jepson, A. Karamchedu, U. Kothari, A. Krishnan, T. Lavers, A. Mamman, D. Mitlin, N.M. Tabrizi, T.R. Mueller, K. Nadvi, G. Pasquali, R. Pritchard, K. Pruce, C. Rees, J. Renken, A. Savoia,

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 26
Independent study hours
Independent study 124

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