Department of Political Science


POLS0021 International Development and Public Policy

Course Code: POLS0021

Course Tutor: Dr Adam Harris (Department of Political Science)

Length: One term (Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 contact hours

Assessment: Essay One: One 1000 word self-reflective essay (30%)
                      Essay Two: One 3000 word development project design essay (70%)

Credits: 15 credits, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS) 

Module Level: L6 (Advanced)

development, poverty, political economy, inequality, conflict

About this course

This course will examine how ideas about development help us understand the various ways the world is divided into rich and poor. We will critically examine the idea that the world can be understood as composed of the rich, industrialised “developed” countries (or global “North”) and the poorer “majority world” (or global “South”), and – using a critical approach to the processes of development – we will emphasise the interaction of politics with society, culture and economics.

This 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 (ethnicity and gender), 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 political economic of development field 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 gender 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.

Please note that POLS0021 is an advanced Political Science module. Its delivery is based on the assumption that you are familiar with concepts and theories central to the field. If this is not the case, you may find additional background reading necessary to appropriately engage with the course material. The following texts are recommended:

Sen, A.K. (1999) Development as Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

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

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

You may also want to look at the POLS0021 (POLS7007A/B) reading list from last year (accessible via the UCL Library) or PUBLG054 from Autumn 2016 to get an idea of the readings and topics covered in the module itself.