BSc Global Development

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Analysing Poverty & Inequality

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI30601
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What is poverty? What is inequality? Why are certain societies more unequal than others? And does it matter for global development? This course unit will try to address these questions by examining different approaches to conceptualising, measuring and explaining income poverty and inequality, and their relationship to other dimensions of development. Whenever possible, we will look at the debate in historical perspective.


This course unit sims to introduce students to the analysis of income inequality and poverty: how they are conceptualised, measured, and why they matter in the development context.


Indicative topics:

  • Inequality and Poverty: introduction
    • Concepts, origins and evolution of this area
  • Measuring inequality and poverty:
    • Theory
    • Applications
  • Why do we see poverty and inequality?
  • Do poorer, more unequal societies have worse development outcomes?

Teaching and learning methods

  • There will be ten 2-hour lectures plus tutorials.
  • All teaching activities are in class, face to face.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understanding cutting-edge economic theory and empirical evidence, and apply it to policy issues concerning the analysis of poverty and inequality.

Intellectual skills

  • Present and defend an advanced economic argument in a clear and succinct manner.
  • Achieve or maintain high standards of grammar and logical thinking.

Practical skills

  • Be able to critically interpret and debate current issues.
  • Develop a professional economist’s understanding of key controversies.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide variety of statistical sources and policy issues concerning the analysis of poverty and inequality.

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Feedback will be delivered via in-class interactions and written comments via Blackboard for assessed coursework. 

Recommended reading

A.B. Atkinson, Inequality: What Can Be Done? (2015), Harvard University Press

A.B. Atkinson, Measuring Poverty Around the World (2019),  Princeton University Press

Martin Ravallion, The Economics of Poverty (2016), Oxford University Press

Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (2016), Harvard University Press

Thomas Piketty, The Economics of Inequality (2015), Harvard University Press

Milanovic B., Visions of Inequality: From the French Revolution to the End of the Cold War, (2023), Belknap Press

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Antonio Savoia Unit coordinator

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