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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED2204 Development Theory and Practice

20 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Lisa Thorley

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The main theoretical perspectives informing the study of global development will be examined through an historical review that sketches the rise (and fall) of competing theories in the past half century. These theoretical perspectives will be juxtaposed with critical insights into how institutions of development operate in practice. The module will explore the practical dilemmas of doing development, and engage students in exploring case studies of contemporary development practice.


This module is designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to development theory and practice. Students will engage with a range of theoretical debates on the normative underpinnings and implementation of international development. The module provides a historical perspective on the emergence of development as a concept, its changing priorities over the decades, and the winners and losers of different policy approaches. Students will then relate theoretical ideas to practices on the ground. Critical development perspectives will inform an elevated understanding of the lived realities of development in practice. Students learn about the various stakeholders involved in development policy and practice. The module also offers insight and critical reflection on the tools that are frequently used to ‘do’ development. Students also learn about advocacy and policy work and techniques of political analysis as applied to development practice.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- Understand a range of theoretical approaches to international development and their roots in different disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives;
- Critically assess the contribution of different theoretical approaches to our understanding of what development ‘is’ and how it might be achieved;
- Apply theories and methods of analysis to current issues and debates.
- Distinguish between different development agents and critically analyse their strengths and weaknesses; and apply this understanding to an individual case study;
- Recognise different ways of measuring and evaluating development, and become proficient in reading and interpreting secondary data;
- Understand different forms of development intervention used by the aid industry.
- Critically reflect on discourses of ‘innovation’, ‘good practice’ and ‘value for money’, developing a critical stance towards assessing development intervention.


Topics include:
1. Theories of economic and political development, with a focus on structuralist and neo-liberal approaches
2. Sociological perspectives on international development, including modernisation, dependency and post-development theories;
3. Human development and human rights-based approaches to development
4. Gender mainstreaming
5. Development responses to inequality, conflict and environmental crisis
6. Power and practice in the aid chain;
7. Policy and advocacy
8. Measuring' Development: What is 'progress', who benefits, and how is it measured?;
9. Taking action- the process of designing development intervention
10. Making a difference- personal and moral dilemmas in development practice

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours167.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)189.00

Private study

Independent study facilitated by resources on Minerva and resources in the library. Students will also be required to conduct independent research into particular case studies in preparation for seminars, presentations, essays and exams.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to submit a 500-word overview of their argument as part of their formative feedback in approx. week 7 (exact date to be determined by tutor each year).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment1 x 2000 word Group Policy Brief, 1 x Group Presentation & 1 x 1000 word Individual Critical Reflection50.00
Essay1 x 2000 word Essay50.00
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: 08/09/2022 15:59:06


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