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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED2250 Latin American Development Challenges in Global Historical Perspective

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Anna Grimaldi

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module explores contemporary development challenges in Latin America from a historical perspective. The study sessions will explore key themes relevant to the region as a whole, whilst also delivering knowledge, understanding, and opportunities to discuss key readings and specific case studies. The module offers the opportunity to analyse political dynamics, social relations, and environmental issues through regional and country-specific responses to global challenges and external pressures. The module aims to provide students with a solid understanding of and preparedness to engage with Latin America’s experience of development, within the context of broader contemporary global challenges.


This co-curated module accompanies students to critically and creatively learn about the development challenges faced by Latin America today. It provides an opportunity to explore the historical roots of contemporary issues relating to inequality, race and ethnicity, gender, religion, climate crises, extractivism, land disputes, state terror, and violence by grounding itself in the Latin American experience and drawing from critical thinkers across the region. The module decentres knowledge by supporting students to draw from Latin American communities, activists, and scholars to contemplate broader global development challenges. The module is team-taught and proposes an innovative, interactive model of assessment that promotes concrete academic and transferable skills.
The module assessment supports students in undertaking original primary research and overseeing a related team-led activity. It empowers students as co-creators in discovering their learning experience, leading to unique, scalable and authentic outputs. As part of the module, students will collectively design a research project relating to development in Latin America by drawing inspiration from a local, national, or digital archival collection of their choosing. They will work as a team to undertake a significant research project, reviewing relevant fields of literature, designing and applying rigorous research methods, conducting primary data collection, producing a range of outputs, and engaging with various publics and collaborators.
This module addresses a gap in the school’s current offering and draws on the expertise of a growing cohort of Latin Americanists in POLIS. It speaks to the Centre for Global Development and the wider school’s commitment to bringing Global South voices to the fore of debates regarding development, and also offers opportunities for guest speakers from Latin America (including scholars and activists) to present to students through the course. The module also engages with the University of Leeds’ Curriculum Redefined and Internationalisation strategies.
The module’s particular framework mitigates against potential for academic misconduct while being inclusive. The TITB framework relieves pressure on timetabling, requires limited use of estates space and provide for flexible, asynchronous learning which in turn allows for a fulsome contribution from students who struggle to attend regularly scheduled sessions such as those with caring responsibilities. The module also ensures a notable ROI, with relative costs limited in preparation, and duration.
The overarching project (Thinking Inside the Box, TITB) from which this module development proposal flows has been independently supported by a small grant from the British International Studies Association (January 2023).

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, it is expected that students will have the ability to:
1. Conduct original research on Latin America with a solid understanding of the global historical roots and present day opportunities of the region’s political, economic, and social development.
2. Critically engage with and apply relevant key concepts, including those from alternative ontological perspectives and situated worldviews.

Skills outcomes
The pillars of the module assessment model are research design and transferable skills-acquisition/skill surfacing. By working as a team, students will design and undertake a collaborative research project of relevance to their own research goals and skills development objectives, simultaneously producing an individual piece for assessment. While rigorous research design skills will be guided by the module convenor through literature reviews, data collection and critical analysis, the presentation mode of the research will be student-led. This means the output could be in the form of an essay, a podcast, a documentary, or an exhibition, among others. Students therefore have the opportunity to work on skills such as project management, visual, audio and/or archival analysis, graphic design, script-writing, interviews, exhibition curation, and many others. As part of the process, students will be able to visit and engage with local and digital archival collections as well as relevant organisations and communities, gaining practical research, communication and diplomacy skills.


The module begins by critically debating the concept of Latin America; its historical, geographical, and cultural features and limitations, and the way the concept has been employed by different stakeholders/groups over time. The module then progresses through a series of key themes, for example Rebellions and Revolutions, Religion and the Church, Indigenous Peoples, Gender, Race, Land, the Environment, and Extractivism, Narco-Politics and Violence, The Far Right and The Pink Tide and Latin America and the World. Key themes will be explored by paying close attention to historical contexts, examining country-specific case studies, and introducing key conceptual and theoretical tools from Latin American communities, activists, critical thinkers, and scholars.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours167.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will spend a significant portion of their time working in teams and individually to produce their final assignment. In this context, listening to podcasts, and watching content recommended by the module convenor and peers; watching tutorials, attending workshops, and developing technical skills; conducting primary and secondary research; meeting with peers to coordinate team work; writing blogposts, essays, conference papers, or podcast and documentary scripts; communicating with local organisations, institutions, and individuals for knowledge exchange and collaboration; disseminating and promoting the project through social media and other publicity strategies; carrying out administrative tasks in relation to project management; graphic design and web design; recording, editing, and producing video or audio content.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The module intentionally moves beyond traditionally prescribed forms of content delivery, contact time, and assessment patterns to in line with the University’s aspirations for Curriculum Redefined and the reappraisal of Discovery Modules. It does so to foster an organic environment of opportunities for formal and informal feedback to take place, based across a range of co-designed assessment opportunities. During the first meeting, students will collectively decide on a collaborative project, and, within that context, the format of their individually assessed final assignments. This planning will include allocating realistic goals and opportunities for formative feedback from the module convenor, but students will also be encouraged to schedule opportunities for peer feedback amongst those taking the module, as well as talking to scholars and professionals from outside the course to discuss their ideas and the development of their final assignment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentChoice from 4 types of assessment listed below100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

In terms of individual assessable pieces of work, students will be given a single prompt and will be able to choose from the following options: - 3,000 word research essay - 3,000 word critical literature review - 30-minute podcast episode (with script) - 3,000 word zine or pamphlet The assessment piece will be handed in at the end of the semester for marking against the University’s agreed marking criteria and in line with other 20 credit modules.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/08/2023


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