SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Comparative Studies on Development

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year

Building on the first year core module, Introduction to Development Studies, this module will explore key issues, debates and theories through case studies and / or a regional focus. Each theme will be taught across several sessions, to provide a comparative approach that explores the importance of context in shaping outcomes, policies and processes of development. The module will show, through selected case studies, the relationship between theoretical work and empirical work in development studies. Students will learn competing theoretical approaches to the issues and themes, and how data is used by different perspectives, both to illustrate the contentions of a particular theory, and undermine the contentions of other approaches. Rather than being taught in the abstract, specific development debates will be used to illustrate the theoretical approaches, and the relationship between theory and empirical research. These debates will include a focus on states and institutions; violence and conflict; social movements and civil society; finance; labour and development; and natural resource development.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • A critical understanding of selected development debates
  • An understanding of how development theories and debates differ in different contexts and settings
  • An ability to critically reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of collecting and using data
  • An ability to critically reflect on the relationship between theory and empirical research
  • Critical understanding of how data is collected and used in addressing these issues


Teaching will take the form of a two-hour lecture and a one-hour tutorial each week.

Scope and syllabus

Measuring Development
State and institutions
Violence and conflict
Social movements and civil society
Labour and development
Natural resource management

Method of assessment

One three hour written examination which will constitute 60% of the final mark, with the remaining 40% consisting of marks from assessed essays. Each student will be expected to submit two essays of no more than 3000 words, each consisting of 20% of the overall mark. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this module.

Suggested reading

  • H-J Chang, 2003. Rethinking Development Economics, Anthem. T. Allen and A.Thomas eds. (2000) Poverty and Development into the Twenty First Century, chs. 1 and esp. 2
  • U. Kambhapati, 2004. Development and the Developing World, Polity.
  • A.P. Thirlwall, 2006. Growth and Development: With Special Reference to Developing Countries, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 8th edition.
  • A. Thomas, J. Chataway, and M. Wuyts 1998. Finding Out Fast: Investigative Skills for Policy and Development, London: Sage Publciations and Open University.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules