BA Modern Language and Business & Management (French)

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Development Economics: Understanding Poverty

Course unit fact file
Unit code ECON20332
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Knowledge about the realities of poverty has long informed policy making, although misinformation and exaggerated ideological arguments have often also influenced policy makers, and continue to do so. The material in this course is focused around understanding poverty in the developing world using evidence-based policy research. Specifically, students will learn how poverty is defined and measures, many of the primary causes of poverty, and policy tools that can be drawn upon to help lift households out of poverty. The course is designed to develop skills that can be practically applied in the government and NGO sectors, as well as for students who may wish to take higher level development courses.

Successful practitioners rely on survey data, and students will learn how to use this type of data to conduct basic poverty analysis and policy impacts. The tutorials will predominately focus on teaching students basic coding skills and data management and analysis. Students will also learn basic program evaluation technique, the basics of which will also be covered in tutorials. Hence, while it is desired, it is not necessary to have completed any econometrics courses.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Principles of Microeconomic Theory 1: Consumers, Welfare, Production and Costs ECON10171 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Macroeconomic Analysis 1 ECON10181 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Microeconomics 1 ECON10221 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Macroeconomics 1 ECON10241 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Macroeconomics 1 ECON10252 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Microeconomics 1 ECON10331 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
(ECON10171 or ECON10221 or ECON10331) and (ECON10181or ECON10241 or ECON10252)

(ECON10171 OR ECON10221 OR ECON10331) AND (ECON10181 OR ECON10241 OR ECON10252)


• To familiarise students with the empirical aspects of economic development faced by developing countries;

• To provide students with key concepts of development economics;

• To provide students with the basic skills required for the development of an independent understanding of the current issues in development economics.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students should be able to:

• Understand how poverty is defined and the main issues surrounding this definition;

• Measure poverty and apply this to existing data;

• Understand the key macro- and micro-level issues surrounding why poverty persists in some countries;

• Understand primary anti-poverty policy tools available to policy-makers, and apply these tools correctly in a given context;

• Use household-level survey data to estimate poverty and policy impacts; and

• Express ideas coherently in structured essays.


• Lecture 1 Introduction: What is economic development? Overview. Overview of the course and of the topics discussed during the course.What is poverty?

Lecture 2 Welfare measurement. Standard and alternative measures

Lecture 3 Poverty lines. Objective versus subjective poverty lines; absolute versus relative poverty.

Lecture 4 Poverty measurement. Practical application of measurement: using household surveys. Individual poverty and intra-household inequality.How do people become poor?

Lecture 5 Economic growth and poverty. Does economic growth reduce poverty? Does poverty impede economic growth? Poverty traps and pro-poor growth.

Lecture 6 Poverty and the non-income dimensions of welfare. The role of health and education.

Lecture 7 Bargaining power. Gender and age, within and between households. Policies to help households out of poverty.

Lecture 8 Macro-level policies. Foreign aid, taxation and redistribution.

Lecture 9 Micro-level policies I. Health, sanitation, and education policies.

Lecture 10 Micro-level policies II. The micro-credit miracle? Debates about policy.

Teaching and learning methods

Synchronous activities (such as Lectures or Review and Q&A sessions, and tutorials), and guided self-study

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Synthesis and analysis of data and information. Critical reflection and evaluation. Decision-making.
Problem solving
Problem posing
Planning independent research. Using library, electronic and online resources, using statistical software and analysis of survey data.

Assessment methods

15% Quizzes - 5x oline quizzes each week, starting with Lecture 2, 3% each

35% Final Assignment - multiple choice questions aimed at general comprehension of previous fortnights' lectures. Essay: 1,000 words; question to be given in Week 5

50% Final exam

Feedback methods

Students can receive further feedback from tutorials, PASS groups, office hours, revision sessions, the use of past papers to practice and discussion boards etc.

Recommended reading

You do not need to buy any textbooks for this course unless you would like to. I will upload all readings to Blackboard.

I am drawing from:

1. The Economics of Poverty. History, Measurement, Policy by Martin Ravallion (2016), Oxford University Press.

This is an excellent book based on practice: Professor Ravallion has spent most of his career at the World Bank, leading the Development Economics Research Group in Washington, DC.

2. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2011)

3. Good Economics for Hard Times, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2019)

If you are interested in reading more about economic development, the standard (but somewhat outdated) textbook at the undergraduate level is:

Debraj, R. (1998), Development Economics, last edition, Princeton University Press.

Any additional readings and a full set of references will be listed on the slides for each lecture. Any readings that need to be done in advance will be indicated on Blackboard through announcements well in advance of the lecture.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caitlin Brown Unit coordinator

Additional notes

For every 10 course unit credits we expect students to work for around 100 hours. This time generally includes any contact times (online or face to face, recorded and live), but also independent study, work for coursework, and group work. This amount is only a guidance and individual study time will vary.

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