BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Politics of Development

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI20722
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


1. Introduction: Thinking critically about development  

2. Is more aid needed (A)?  

3. Is more aid needed (B)?  

4. Are stronger developmental states needed (A)?  

5. Are stronger developmental states needed (B)?  

6. Are more sweatshops needed (A)?  

7. Are more sweatshops needed (B)?  

8. Should we reject ‘development’ entirely (A)?  

9. Should we reject ‘development’ entirely (B)?  

10. Conclusion: Decolonising development  





This course will introduce students to the study of politics of development, exploring the conceptual and practical struggles that underlie international and national efforts to combat poverty and exclusion. Various theoretically-informed answers to key debates will be explored, including: Is more aid needed? Are stronger states needed? Are more sweatshops needed? Should we reject development entirely? The role of major development institutions (the World Bank and IMF, the UN, bilateral donors, NGOs etc) will be considered, and we will address various issues linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Cases from across the ‘global south’ will be examined throughout the module. Intersectional relationships of gender, race, sexuality and class will be used to highlight different perspectives in various empirical cases. The course finishes by exploring theoretical and ‘actually-existing’ alternatives to the mainstream development paradigm, with particular emphasis on indigenous social movements and the implications of ideas like buen vivir and degrowth for the dominant development paradigm.  


Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to demonstrate:
1. Understanding of the major approaches to the study of politics of development
2. Familiarity with a wide range of cases from the developing world, and be able to apply theoretical approaches to those cases
3. Understanding of the complex dynamics that produce and sustain underdevelopment.

Assessment methods

Development Report Evaluation portfolio: 4x400 words (30%)  

Group advocacy video project: 5 minutes (20%) 

Coursework essay: 2,000 words (50%)  

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Katie Willis, Theories and practices of development, 3rd edition, Abingdon: Routledge, 2021

Burnell, P. and Randall, V (2008) Politics in the Developing World, 2nd edition, Oxford: OUP
Kiely, R. (2007) The New Political Economy of Development, Basingstoke: Palgrave
McMichael, P. (2012) Development and Change: A Global Perspective, 3rd edition, London: Pine Forge Press.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Perla Polanco Leal Unit coordinator
Franco Galdini Unit coordinator

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