Issues in Borders and Development

Key information

Module not running
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

Almost all questions of our time revolve around the conceptualisation, functions and effects of boundaries and of bordering processes. Whether we talk about sovereignty, geopolitics, and humanitarian interventions; citizenship, identity and migration; economic integration, financial crises and protectionism; globalism, localism, or transnationalism; and more broadly, distinctions, discriminations, exclusions and inclusions; borders are central for our understanding of processes of social change. Development is no exception and the module, at its broadest, draws from the vast body of literature concerned with these issues to study the relation between borders and the development process.

As borders have become a key site of intervention in the context of neoliberal development policies, furthermore, the module is also concerned with their management. From this functional perspective, borders are opened or closed to encourage or prevent transnational flows (e.g. capital flows vs. migration). They are reshaped and reconfigured to enhance the prospects of economic growth (e.g. SEZs and Regional Trade Agreements), to improve social development outcomes (e.g. targeting of communities or lagging areas), or for the purposes of security (e.g. migration enforcement). The module assesses these policies and the likelihood of their success.

Finally, the module is concerned with the relation between borders and inequalities. In all their different configurations, borders are always differentially experienced: they are gendered, racialised and power-laden. Yet, they are also sites of agency, resistance and subversion. Borders are privileged sites of analytical enquiry, as they render concrete and reproduce development's selective opportunities, inequalities and contestations. From this perspective, the module offers insights on the role of development vis-à-vis the maintenance or mitigation of inequalities across the world.

The module is divided in three sections (conceptualising, managing, experiencing borders) mirroring these different concerns.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


At the end of this half unit, students will be able to:

  • Understand and distinguish between different conceptualisations and approaches to the study of borders
  • Critically assess how borders relate to development processes, both conceptually and in relation to policy-making
  • Analyse how different social actors are affected by borders
  • Critically discuss specific topics, cases, debates




Teaching will take the place through a weekly one hour seminar and 1 hour tutorial.


Method of assessment


100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay worth 60% of the final grade and a blog article worth 40% of the final grade. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this module.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules