SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Political Economy and Sociology of Development


This is the core module for the MSc International Development. It draws on the long-standing success of our on-campus MSc Development Studies degree. The Political Economy and Sociology of Development equips students with a thorough theoretical understanding of development studies, drawing on the key disciplines of sociology and economics. The module is founded on the history of thought on development studies, identifying and critiquing the intellectual journey, trends, the associated policies and the dominance of the neoliberal agenda in development policy and practice.

Topics include:

  • Imposing and inventing development
  • National development, the state and planning
  • Neoliberalism and good governance
  • Gender and the development paradigm
  • Alternative development
  • Poverty, PRSPs and beyond
  • Measuring development
  • Inequality – national and international
  • Neoclassical economics
  • Marxism and structuralism
  • New institutionalism and the Washington Consensus
  • Industrialisation and growth
  • Labour and labour markets

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module, a student will be able to:

  • present a critical understanding of the main economic, political and sociological theories of development
  • understand core policy issues of development internationally and nationally, and of proposals for their practical solution
  • combine theoretical knowledge with case study/empirical knowledge
  • analyse and explain data problems in developing countries, with an awareness of different research methodologies, including case studies, quantitative analysis, and surveys.


Teaching takes place online through a weekly discussion

Method of assessment

100% coursework


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules