Political Economy of Development

Key information

Start date
End date
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This module examines development processes and policies from a political economy perspective. The syllabus is designed to provide a basic ‘literacy’ in economic theory and policy relevant to the study and practice of development. It covers:

  • the most important theories of economic development;
  • the structure of the world economy;
  • international trade and finance;
  • private and official (aid) capital flows to less developed countries;
  • the changing role of international organisations;
  • issues of employment, equity and income distribution within and across countries;
  • the place of markets and the public sector in development strategy.

Special emphasis is given to changes in the international environment over the last twenty years and their effects on the policies and prospects of less developed countries.

Note that the module does not presume prior knowledge of economics, and it is supplemented by a special economics class, designed for non-economists, in the first half of the first term. This special class is optional and is not assessed. Students attend a weekly lecture and participate in a weekly seminar group. Seminar sessions include group discussions of assigned readings related to the lecture topics.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


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

  • Identify and understand the most important problems and debates in the field of political economy of development.Make informed comparisons between processes and problems of economic development across different regions of the world, and between countries in these regions.
  • Understand the diversity of economic and political structures among the developing countries.
  • Use and understand a range of sources for empirical information and critically evaluate the empirical basis of different approaches to economic development.
  • Develop their analytical and critical skills, through the ideas discussed in the lectures and through individual research.
  • Enhance their communication skills through seminar presentations and discussions in class.




Teaching takes place through a weekly 1 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.


Method of assessment

50% examination, 50% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit two essays, each worth 25% of the final grade of the module. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules