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Study information

The Politics of Development

Module titleThe Politics of Development
Module codeARA1037
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Lise Storm (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will introduce you to the politics of development focusing in particular, but limited to, the Arab and Islamic world. The module is structured around main themes (theoretical approaches to the politics of development, domestic factors, institutions, and international factors) which provide a comparative perspective on the politics of development. The module provides an introduction to contemporary research on the politics of development, covering issues such as colonialism, political parties, political systems, civil conflict, gender and inequality, international financial institutions, poverty, foreign aid and democratization, populism and leadership.

This module is suitable for specialist and non-specialist alike. No prior knowledge is required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to provide you with a general introductory survey of the politics of development, focusing particularly on the Middle East, but also covering cases from Africa and Asia. The module will introduce you to the major theoretical debates in international development and the implications of different development definitions, as well as covering the core challenges of development and the role played by political institutions (domestic and international). Upon completion of the module, you will be equipped with an understanding of the effects of international aid as well as be able to situate development challenges within core international debates on development. The module furthermore provides a good foundation for further study of development and foreign assistance, such as e.g. authoritarian resilience and democracy support as well as, of course, Middle East studies in general.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate an understanding of the major theories of the politics of development as well as the main forces, trends and characteristics of the domestic and international factors at play;
  • 2. place contemporary political events in social and historical contexts and appreciate the role political institutions might play for development as well as understand some of the core challenges of development;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. relate political issues and trends to economic, societal and cultural dynamics, and to comprehend the interplay between these at the domestic and international levels;
  • 4. relate socio-political and socio-economic phenomena at the local and international level;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. synthesize information from various sources into a coherent written argument displaying an understanding of the core debates around international development aid;
  • 6. demonstrate good oral and written communication skills; and
  • 7. demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover all or some of the following topics:

  • Modernization theory and dependency theory
  • Structuralism and political development
  • The Washington consensus and poverty
  • Domestic factors (culture, religion, inequality, civil conflict)
  • International factors (colonialism, democratization, international financial institutions)
  • Political systems (political parties, political systems, populism, leadership)

Each week we will also cover a specific country chosen by the students from a list supplied by the module convenor. We will study the core development challenges of that country and the country's background.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activity22A combination of lectures, group work and guided class discussions (11 x 2 hours)
Guided independent study55Reading and preparing for the weekly seminars
Guided independent study14Researching and preparing group presentation
Guided independent study59Researching and writing synopsis and essay

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation utilizing slides10 minutes1-4; 6-7Written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Synopsis20750 words1-6Written feedback
Essay802,000 words1-6Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
SynopsisSynopsis (750 words)1-6August/September reassessment period
EssayEssay (2,000 words)1-6August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Carol Lancaster and Nicolas van de Walle (2018) The Oxford Handbook of the Politics of Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Chandra, Siddarth and Nita Rudra (2015) 'Reassessing the links between regime type and economic performance: Why some authoritarian regimes show stable grown and others do not', British Journal of Political Science 45(2): 253-85.
  • Hutchcroft, Paul (1997) 'The politics of privilege: assessing the impact of rents, corruption and clientelism on Third World development', Political Studies 45(3): 639-58.
  • Lange, Matthew (2004) 'British colonial legacies and political development', World Development 32(6): 905-22.
  • Mkandawire, Thandika (2013) 'Neopatrimonialism and the political economy of economic performance in Africa: Critical reflections', World Politics, pp. 1-50.
  • Welzel, Christian, Ronald Inglehart and Hans-Dieter Klingemann (2003) 'The theory of human development: a cross-cultural analysis', European Journal of Political Research 42(3): 341-79.

Key words search

Development, aid, poverty, politics, inequality, colonialism, democratization

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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