Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module SGIA3681: Poverty or Prosperity? The Political Economy of Development

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA3681: Poverty or Prosperity? The Political Economy of Development

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 SGIA module


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To increase students' understanding of theory and empirical evidence in the political economy of development;
  • To bolster students' ability to critically review the state of the theoretical and empirical knowledge of development and identify its limitations;
  • To promote students' insight in how theory and empirical evidence have shaped policy interventions in developing countries;
  • To provide students' with the skills to apply theory and empirical evidence from the development literature to a particular country;
  • To give students' the skills to identify which country-specific factors have helped and hurt development, and the conditions under which specific policy interventions can be expected to promote development in a specific country context;
  • To build students ability to formulate policy recommendations.


  • The course covers a selection of topics in the political economy of development, which may include different conceptualizations of development:
  • Democracy/Autocracy and Development;
  • National Government Development Policy;
  • International Trade;
  • International Development Organizations;
  • Civil Society/Community-based Organizations and Development;
  • Traditional and Hybrid Authorities;
  • Firms and Development;
  • Violent Conflict in Developing Countries.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understand what constitutes development;
  • Understand how politics, economics and society interact to deliver development (or not);
  • Awareness of how institutions affect development;
  • Knowledge of policies and interventions that aim to deliver development;
  • Knowledge of a particular developing country.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critically review the theoretical and empirical literature in the political economy of development;
  • Apply theories and empirical evidence from political economy of development literature to a particular country;
  • Analyse which factors particular to a country's politics, economics, society and institutions help or hurt development, and compare these to arguments from general development theory and evidence;
  • Assess appropriateness of a policy or intervention to a particular country context.
Key Skills:
  • Collect, categorize and critically evaluate information from a range of sources;
  • Apply academic theory to a real-life context;
  • Develop an understand of what knowledge and evidence does, and which does not, transfer across contexts;
  • Formulate policy recommendations;
  • Give feedback to peers;
  • Report-writing.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide students with knowledge on what constitutes development and an understanding of what factors affect development. Lectures will also introduce specific institutions and their importance to development, and examples of development policies and interventions. Seminars will: guide students through an analysis of a particular country; address which factors likely affect its development, motivated by theoretical and empirical literature; and introduce potential policies or interventions suited this particular country.
  • Seminars will also support formative assessment presentations and peer-to-peer and instructor feedback. Seminars will, thus, prepare students for the summative assessment.
  • Formative assessment:
  • 10-minute presentation of the outline of a report that applies the students knowledge of theory and empirical literature, and policy and interventions, to a specific country.
  • 2 page outline of the above report.
  • Summative assessment:
  • Engagement with country report readings. Students are asked to comment on several country report readings. Participation and quality of each student’s engagement will be monitored and evaluated resulting in a participation grade. This makes up 10% of the final mark. A 5,000-word report that applies the students' knowledge of theory and empirical literature, and policy and interventions, to a specific country. This makes up 90% of the final mark.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 7 Distributed appropriately across 1 term 2 hours 14
Seminars 6 Distributed appropriately across all terms 2 hours 12
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Country Report Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Country Report 5,000 words 100% None
Component: Engagement with reading Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Engagement with country report reading 6 x 3 hours (approx. 18 hours total) 100% None

Formative Assessment:

10-min individual presentation in an Epiphany term seminar on the outline of the planned summative country-report. 2-page outline of the planned country reporta

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University