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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3206 The Politics of Aid

20 creditsClass Size: 90

Module manager: Professor Simon Lightfoot

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Foreign aid is a particularly controversial topic. Interest in it has heightened in recent years, with donor countries pledging to provide substantially larger amounts of aid in the coming years. The aim of the course is to introduce students to key concepts, issues and debates relating to country level aid effectiveness and allocation. It also aims to introduce students to the political, economic and moral rationales of why international donors provide foreign aid. The following topics are addressed:- Aid definition, concepts and volumes;- Why is aid given;- Aid allocation and selectivity;- Key actors: official donors and NGOs;- Aid and policy coherence for development.


The module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the politics of aid. The predominant focus of the module explores the motivations of donor states, although some reflection will be given to the impact of aid on recipient states. It examines the role of NGOs and political parties in influencing decisions about aid levels. Country case studies will then examine the aid decisions of specific countries, before an examination of how aid impacts upon recipient states. Specific issues around aid and its links to other policy areas are explored before the international aid architecture and its future is examined.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the course students should be able to:
- Critically examine the key concepts and definitions of aid;
- Analyse trends in and global levels of aid;
- Analyse the political, commercial, and moral rationales for foreign aid;
- Identify the impact of aid on recipient countries;
- Understand the links between aid and non-aid policies.
- Critical appraise the future of the global aid architecture


What is aid and why do states give aid?
The role of NGOs and political parties
The politics of aid: country case studies
Aid and receipient states: case studies
Policy coherence for development
The development-security nexus
The international organisation of aid-the role of the DAC
The future of the global aid architecture

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading: 58 hours
Writing: 70 hours
Research: 50 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Mid-term project report assessment (see below)
Annotated reading list

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentEnd of Term - Portfolio of Policy brief draft, Presentation and 1,500 word Policy Brief100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/01/2020


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