SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Governance and development

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

In recent decades, 'governance' (its effectiveness, capacity, transparency, or lack thereof) has become central to understandings of how to improve the effectiveness of aid and the impact of development policies, or in understanding failures to tackle poverty, insecurity and instability. This module explores the relationships and intertwining of governance, politics and development interventions. Through a focus on institutions of international, regional and national governance, and aid instruments designed to enhance national capacity for effective and efficient delivery of development outcomes (such as Sector-Wide Approaches, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, and direct budget support), the module explores the politics of development interventions.

The module is divided into three main thematic areas. The first section explores international governance institutions and instruments for increasing governance capacity. The second explores debates and theories relating to the particular character of states and the impact on development intervention and effectiveness. The third section explores governance in practice in the developing world, at regional (such as the African Union, NEPAD and the APRM process in sub-Saharan Africa), national and local levels, and the concept of the 'failed state'.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to analyse and evaluate the shifting nature of the role of the state in development;
  • An ability to analyse theoretical and policy understandings of the role of the state and governance in development;
  • An understanding of the political context in which development policy is formulated and implemented at the national and international level;
  • An understanding of the various levels of international and national institutions involved in global and national governance;
  • An ability to assess the evolving architecture of development and aid, and related policy discussions;
  • An ability to use empirically-formed analysis to identify gaps and tensions between theory and practice.


Teaching will take the form of a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar per week.

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one book review of worth 30% and one essay worth 70% of the overall grade.  Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules