Department of Political Science


The Political Economy of Development

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Adam Harris (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this course

The Political Economy of Development course deals with the empirical reality, theory, and current governance problems of development, poverty, and inequality. Specifically, throughout the course we will investigate the influence of colonialism, state capacity, regime type, war and conflict, accountability, social structures, and corruption on economic development. This course engages with both economic theory regarding development and political science research that highlights the challenges to implementing the policies that would lead to economic development. The main objective of the course is to introduce students to the main debates in the field of economic development and the various strategies to promote development. Over the duration of the course, students will learn to critically apply different theoretical perspectives on development to a range of contemporary substantive issues that are relevant to international public policy and development.

The course will begin with an introduction to the main challenges to development from a variety of theoretical perspectives. We will then focus on the role of institutions and policy in promoting and hindering economic development. The course will then explore the relationship between ethnic diversity and economic development and the ways in which war and development influence each other. The last two weeks of the course will then investigate the role of aid and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in promoting economic development.

Suggested Preliminary Readings:

Collier, Paul. (2007). The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Easterly, William. (2002). The Elusive Quest for Growth. MIT Press.

Sachs, Jeffrey. (2006). The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York: Penguin. 

Sen, Amartya. (1999). Development as Freedom. Knopf.