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Department of Economics

Growth & development

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Term 1

This module consists of a survey of key issues in the political economy of development. The aim is to familiarise students with the debate in key areas of policy, discuss issues of methodology, and develop analytical ability of students. We emphasize the application of theory to real economic problems in developing countries. Students are strongly encouraged to relate the ideas presented in the lectures to concrete examples in the developing world.

Growth and Development is broadly divided into four sections: 

  1. The first consists of a critical assessment of new growth theories including the convergence-divergence debate regarding trends in the international distribution of income. 
  2. The second section addresses agricultural and rural sector development, including the role of agriculture in economic development and the relationship between rural poverty and growth. 
  3. Section 3 considers role of industrialization and trade in the growth process. 
  4. The final section addresses methodological debates.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to understand the major and minor strands in popular and policy-critical development debates. They will be able to apply their knowledge in constructing a critical analysis of the issues for a particular country, and will be able to use economic data appropriately.


The course consists of one lecture and one tutorial per week. The tutorials will address the topics covered in the earlier lecture and discussion questions are provided for each week. For most tutorials, two students will take responsibility for introducing the discussion topic in each tutorial class. In your presentations please attempt to answer the discussion question based on the readings and available evidence. Presentations are limited to ten minutes. All students—even those who are not making a presentation—will be expected to come to the tutorials prepared to make a useful contribution to the class. If you have not done any reading for the week you may be asked to leave the class. Students will sign up for one tutorial slot at the beginning of term and to attend class at the same time each week. You may not change to another class without our prior agreement.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / Coursework 30% (1 essay). All coursework is resubmittable.

Suggested reading

  • Thirlwall, AP, Growth and Development, Seventh Edition, 2003 (or eighth edition, 2006).
  • Chang, HJ, Rethinking Development Economics, 2003, Anthem Press
  • Nafziger, EW, Economic Development, Fourth Edition, 2006, Cambridge University Press.

We have prepared a study pack of course readings available for purchase at the SOAS Bookshop in the Brunei Gallery. Please note these are not necessarily the most important readings: rather, the study pack contains materials that are difficult to locate. Students are encouraged to make full use both of the SOAS library and other London libraries, particularly the excellent library at LSE. Students are strongly encouraged to approach the library for an Athens username as early as possible so that they can access the full range of SOAS electronic journals.