Introduction to Political Economy of Development

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This module examines development processes and policies from a political economy perspective. It is designed to provide students with a core competancy in economic theory and policy relevant to the study of international development theory and practice. It does this by exploring four key themes related to the political economy of development. Firstly, students will explore international economics, before, secondly, turning to engage with a range of economic theories essential for understanding modern development processes and policies. Thirdly, the module explores development institutions, their policies and strategies, and how those feed into economic policy. Finally, the module focuses on core topics in economic development, such as how we measure development; the role of finance (including taxation, microcredit, inflation) in economic growth and development; labour markets; and foreign aid. On completion of this module, students will have gained a thorough grounding in political-economy theory which will supplement the thematic learning undertaken in the Introduction to Development Studies 1st year core module. Although this module introduces students to economics ideas, debates and theories, no prior knowledge of economics is required.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


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

  • An understanding of key economic theories, debates and approaches, and an ability to critically evaluate each;
  • An understanding of the diversity of economic and political structures in developing countries;
  • An understanding of the ways in which economic policy are shaped and constrained by political institutions;
  • A critical understanding of the ways in which political-economy plays out in key areas of development policy and practice;
  • The ability to use and understand a range of sources for empirical evaluation, and to evaluate critically the empirical basis of different approaches to economic development;
  • Key skills in communication and argument, through tutorial presentations and discussions, and through coursework assessments




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


Scope and syllabus


This module is split into four main parts, each of which consists of a number of sessions:

Part 1 : International Economics (includes trade theory and evidence, international monetary system)
Part 2 : Economic theories (includes history of economic thought, structuralism, dependency theory, Washington consensus, neoliberalism)
Part 3 : Development strategies and institutions (includes state and development, development strategies / policies)
Part 4 : Topics in economic development (includes measuring development, money and finance, labour markets, gender and economic development, agrarian change, foreign aid, technology, corruption)


Method of assessment


Exam 60%, Coursework 40%. Each student will be required to submit two essays of no more than 2000 words each (4000 in total), which are each worth 20% of the final grade.


Suggested reading

  • Clark D.A. (ed.) (2007). The Elgar Companion to Development Studies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Fine, Ben and Milonakis, Dimitris (2008) From Political Economy to Economics: Method, the Social and the Historical in the Evolution of Economic Theory. Routledge.
  • Simon, David (2005). Fifty Key Thinkers on Development, Routledge.
  • Hunt, E.K. (2002). History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective, 2nd ed., New York, M.E. Sharpe.
  • Thirlwall, A.P., (2006), Growth and Development, 8th edition, London: Palgrave
  • Rapley J. (2007). Understanding Development: Theory and Practice in the Third World. London: Lynne Rienner
  • Hunt D. (1989) Economic Theories of Development. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheastheaf.
  • Meier G.M. and J.E. Rauch (2005) Leading Issues in Economic Development, 8th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Saad-Filho A. and D. Johnston (2005) Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press.
  • Secondi G. (ed.), (2008). The Development Economics Reader. London: Routledge.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules