You will study some of these units in 2018/19 if you apply for any of the international development course pathways:

Conflict, development and peacebuilding

Aims

  • To introduce students to the main theoretical approaches to the study of conflict and development.
  • To introduce students to debates surrounding contemporary conflict and the changing character of war.
  • To introduce students to academic and policy debates surrounding contemporary and historical development and peacebuilding interventions in conflict settings.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • critically understand the concepts of conflict, peace, and security
  • critically evaluate contrasting theories on the relationship between conflict and development
  • critically understand how development and humanitarian responses to conflict have changed over time
  • critically assess contemporary humanitarian and peacebuilding responses to conflict​

Content

The course will introduce students to the main conceptual debates surrounding the field of conflict and development. It will provide some historical perspective to the analysis of contemporary conflict and introduce students to key academic debates concerning the relationship between development and conflict. Students will explore a range of theoretical perspectives on the causes of violent conflict. In doing so, they will be exposed to a range of disciplinary perspectives and approaches from politics, sociology, international relations, and economics. Finally, students will be introduced to the major theoretical approaches to peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction – engaging with debates around how the transition to peace is affected by processes of democratisation and economic liberalisation.

Provisional list of topics that will be covered:

  • key concepts: conflict, peace and development
  • war and historical change
  • development theory and conflict
  • economic dimensions of conflict
  • the role of ethnicity and religion
  • environmental factors and climate change
  • regional dimensions and the geography of conflict
  • liberal and illiberal peacebuilding, human security, and beyond
  • political transitions to peace
  • economic transitions to peace
  • conflict response in practice: humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding approaches​

Dissertation

Aims

  • ​To give students the opportunity to identify a feasible research question and relate it to relevant literature and empirical material.
  • To give students the opportunity to develop a cogent, credible and sustained argument that addresses the research question, and to do this within a fixed time period.

Learning outcomes

An ability:

  • to define and answer a research question in a chosen area of interest in the area of international development or humanitarian action
  • to support the argument with relevant empirical evidence and/or reference to appropriate theory, and/or linking together arguments from disparate literatures or disciplinary perspectives
  • to do all the above in written form in a dissertation that conforms to acceptable standards of presentation and expression

Content

The dissertation should make explicit reference to at least one important development or humanitarian issue covered as part of the Diploma stage of the MSc in International Development/ MSc in International Development with Economics/ MSc in International Development for Social Justice and Sustainability/ MSc in International Development with Conflict and Humanitarian Action.

Dissertations may be based on any combination of:

  • review of published literature
  • analysis of secondary data

In addition to these, dissertations may also include the analysis of primary data collected by the student provided that the student has a strong rationale for doing so and the necessary skills to undertake primary research.

Doing research for international development

Aims

  • To provide students with key academic skills necessary for them to successfully complete their chosen pathway programme, focusing especially on the ability to search and review information to answer a question and the ability to argue on the basis of evidence.
  • To equip students with key transferrable skills to successfully perform in their professional life and as graduate students, focusing especially on the ability to work as a group and to undertake inter-disciplinary projects that respond to development challenges.
  • To prepare students to undertake successfully the dissertation or practicum stage of their chosen Masters of International Development pathway, which will include introducing students to the research methods used in international development to consider responses to contemporary global challenges.
  • To build student capacity to undertake a piece of independent research, which they will write up in a dissertation synopsis
  • To reflect on the ways in which research feeds into development policy.

Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of quantitative and qualitative methods used in international development.
  • Critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods with respect to different research objectives in international development.
  • An awareness of the ethical issues raised by the use of different research methods across a range of contexts.
  • Understanding of approaches to the systematic management of research and other evidence in international development.
  • Understanding the purpose of and skills involved in conducting a literature review.
  • A deeper and more critical understanding of how to formulate and develop an original research question.

Content

The unit is based on learning by doing. As such, learning is undertaken through independent study, guided group work, introductory lectures on research design and methods, and writing up an assignment on a research skills exercise (e.g. article review or applied exercise on research methods) and dissertation synopsis.

In the first semester, students engage in activities designed to introduce them to the basics of research design and research methods, as well as to help them write essays and develop research and analysis skills for international development. The unit will include activities aimed at developing the practical skills necessary for undertaking literature reviews, comparing and contrasting a range of research methodologies, and formulating an argument. They will be assessed through a written assignment drawn from a research skills exercise undertaken in class.

In the second semester, students continue working through the foundations of research design by applying the relevant lessons to their own interest areas, engaging in workshops designed to launch their individual dissertation projects. Issues covered will include developing a research question, choosing an appropriate methodology, understanding case studies and using evidence effectively. They will apply these lessons to their own interest area and write this up as a dissertation synopsis.

Economics for international development

Aims

  • ​To be at ease with core concepts and models explaining consumption, production and distribution under conditions of scarcity, hence how such concepts relate to the determinants of poverty, inequality, well-being and sustainability over time.
  • To review theories of economic change at local, national and global levels, with particular reference to markets affecting low and middle income countries.
  • To assess the strengths and weaknesses of the way economists think, particularly in relation to the way economists conceive individual behaviour and its macro impact over time and space.
  • To strengthen the ability of students to apply microeconomic concepts to development issues of their choosing.

Learning outcomes

  • Ability to use the language and methodology employed by economists in the context of development.
  • Understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of economic explanations of consumption, production, distribution, welfare and development, with reference to specific markets, sectors and economies.
  • Understanding of how economic analysis can contribute to policy analysis, particularly formulating strategies for promoting sustainable development.
  • Insights into directions for more in-depth study of development economics and for understanding how economics relates to other social science disciplines. ​

Content

​The content is looking at the micro-foundations of economic development (1), the consumer and the impact of social identities on the demand for goods and services (2) then turn to the producer and to production economics (3), supply and demand together under different assumptions about the nature of competition and the dynamics of consumer and producer behaviour (4). From this, we then explore allocation of labour (5) and capital (6) through market and non-market institutions, moving onto the micro foundations for market success and market failure (7). We also graduate from seeking to understand the macro impact of micro behaviour from showing how economic institutions work to evaluating how well they work looking at inequality and poverty issues (8). This takes us finally to a comprehensive framework for understanding the determinants of economic growth (9), structural change, demand management and big push theories at national and global levels (10). Each lecture will be illustrated with reference to examples reflecting on how the context of poverty, inequality, weak infrastructure and governance affects the operation of market and non-market institutions of resource allocation. The lectures will be completed with participatory seminars where students will gain transferable analytical skills on assessing the macro impact of micro behaviour (e.g. Impact Evaluation, Qualitative Evaluation, Mixed Methods, Cost-Benefit Analysis).

Global political economy

Aims

  • To give a historical and analytical understanding of economic issues and international institutions in the context of globalisation.
  • To provide an overview of the recent evolution of patterns of world production, trade, finance, and inequality arising in that process.
  • To discuss the role of the development and role of policy-making institutions at national, regional, and global levels.
  • To introduce the theoretical debate on the concept of globalisation and analyse it from a historical and political economy perspective in order to build on the Economics for Development- Micro unit to explain the role of external constraints on development and how they shape development policies and outcomes.
  • To provide students with an understanding of the ideological and historical origins of economic theories in the context of globalisation debate.
  • To familiarise the students with the importance of issues such as international trade, foreign direct investment, regional integration, labour migration and global finance, in development.
  • To provide the students with a global political economy perspective into development issues.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able:

  • to understand of the role of external dynamics in determining development processes and outcomes
  • to understanding how political economy analysis could explain the nature and evolution of international institutions and their impact on development
  • to critically evaluate the position of developing countries in international institutions and the sources of economic power in the global political economy
  • to understand issues such as commodity dependence, policy space, industrial policy, and their role in development processes within the global context
  • to have a critical understanding of the historical experience of development in regard to these issues

Content

  • ​A theoretical framework to understand international institutions and their evolution.
  • The global trading regime and its impact on development.
  • Regional and bilateral trade agreements.
  • The global intellectual property rights regime and its impact on access to knowledge, access to medicine, etc.
  • The global investment regime and its impact on the relationship between developing countries and multinational firms.
  • The debates around public and private labour standards and their links to working conditions in the developing world.
  • Global inequality.
  • The politics of international climate negotiations and their impact on developing countries in terms of climate change, adaptation, etc.
  • International debt crises and their impact on developing and middle income economies.

The lectures will be completed with participatory seminars where students will gain transferable analytical skills on trade data analysis, commodity dependence and diversification, regional trade flows, investment flows, and debt) in addition to case study analysis.

History and theory of international development

Aims

  • To provide a comprehensive introduction to the historical emergence and evolution of International Development as a project.
  • To provide an in-depth and critical understanding of the core theoretical and disciplinary frameworks which underpin development thinking and practice in a cross-cultural perspective.
  • To critically evaluate the different conceptualisations and meanings of international development as they have emerged historically.
  • To critically examine the policy implications of the theories of international development for people and planet.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will have:

  • demonstrated critical understanding of the historical and theoretical underpinnings of international development
  • demonstrated critical understanding of how different conceptualisations and meanings of international development bear on policy and practice
  • demonstrated critical understanding of the dynamics interaction between historical processes and theoretical frameworks in contemporary development contexts

Content

The unit will cover the main issues, approaches and theories which constitute the project of international development, the different ways that these have been conceived and changes in the ways they have been understood over time. These include:

  • poverty
  • state/market/civil society
  • colonialism, imperialism and post-colonial relations
  • inequalities and social development
  • environment and natural resources
  • violence, conflict and security

Humanitarianism

Aims

  • ​To introduce students to the emergence, history and core principles of humanitarianism as an organised response to human suffering.
  • To provide students with up-to-date knowledge of the institutional structure, funding and range of activities of contemporary humanitarianism.
  • To consider with students the ethical and practical dilemmas commonly faced by humanitarian actors in practice.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • engage critically in current debates within the humanitarian field
  • articulate a clear and critical understanding of the differences – organisational, conceptual and practical - between development assistance and humanitarian aid
  • interrogate humanitarian practice for its engagement with issues around gender, age, ethnicity, class and other sectional characteristics

Content

Part one: Humanitarianism – history and principles

The unit begins by mapping out humanitarianism as a mode of action with its own institutional history and guiding principles. It then moves to analyse International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law as the basis of and resource for humanitarian action. The distinctiveness of humanitarianism from international development has been contested: we shall explore if and how the maintenance of such a distinction continues to have merit.

  • The emergence of humanitarianism as organised practice.
  • Key principles of humanitarian practice.
  • Humanitarianism and international law.

Part two: Thinking about 'the field'

This section is concerned with the thinking that underlies present-day humanitarianism: from the conceptualisation of 'the field' itself to the motivation for action. Concern with intersectionality - particularly around gender / sexuality, age, class and ethnicity - is also discussed with the aim of identifying both priorities and potential gaps in current thinking .

  • 'Emergency' as the context for action.
  • Gender / sexuality and age.
  • Class and ethnicity.

Part three: Humanitarian activities

In this latter part of the unit attention turns to humanitarian practice itself. Key areas of contemporary activity are considered and the specific challenges – technical, socio-cultural and political - explored. Some of these, such as shelter, water & sanitation, are well-established while education and protection are growing in importance as specific domains of action.

  • Protection.
  • Water & Sanitation, Shelter, Medicine, Nutrition.
  • Education in Emergencies.
  • Working with refugees and forced migrants.

Management of international development

Aims

​Management of international development is defined broadly to include activities that set out to improve human wellbeing in the short-term and/or long-term through projects, public programmes and policies undertaken by public, not-for-profit and for-profit actors and organisations. It encompasses a wide range of management practices, policies and perspectives on how positive social change is planned, implemented and turns out. This unit aims to introduce and to critically review these ideas and practices. These include the following:

  • identification of actors, organisations, and financial flows involved in the implementation of development and humanitarian policies and programmes in differing institutional contexts
  • presentation and examination of the dominant approaches to understanding how these are conceptualised and managed, including their evolution and contestation. Presentation and examination of critical theories and approaches
  • tools, techniques and frameworks widely used by international development and humanitarian agencies to plan, implement, monitor, evaluate and manage development activities, particularly in complex contexts
  • personal attributes and skills associated with effective management and leadership of international development and humanitarian action
  • it also aims to strengthen the management and leadership capabilities of students themselves, as well as their awareness of the limitations of these

Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge and understanding of actors, organisations, and financial flows involved in the implementation of development policies and programmes in differing institutional contexts.
  • Knowledge, critical understanding and an ability to apply a range of tools, techniques and frameworks for managing international development and humanitarian actions, particularly in complex contexts.
  • Knowledge, and critical understanding of the personal attributes and skills associated with effective management and leadership,
  • Enhanced ability to identify and critically assess management and leadership skills in self and others.

Content

A critical review of the following:

  • Frameworks and theories of management and leadership, particularly those drawn from the international development and humanitarian action literature.
  • The distinction between management in development, of development and for development, and its historical evolution in relation to globalised management thinking, with reference to both mainstream and critical perspectives.
  • Intervention models, tools and techniques, including traditional and modified project and policy cycles, participatory learning and needs assessment, logical framework analysis, theories of change, stakeholder analysis, and different approaches to monitoring, evaluation, learning, accountability and assessing cost-effectiveness or value for money.
  • Theories of leadership, change management, capacity building and social entrepreneurship, with particular reference to power relations and complex contexts.

This review to incorporate a range of extended case studies drawn from the fields of international development and humanitarian practice, and to draw upon students' own field experiences.

As assessed work, students will first prepare a briefing on a specific framework, model, tool or technique used in development practice. They will then build on this work to produce a fuller case study as a second and longer piece of assessed work.

Practicum

Aims

  • ​To enable students to apply to a specific field of professional practice what they have learnt from units constitutive of their chosen pathway).
  • To give students the opportunity to critically reflect on a specific area of professional practice in international development or humanitarianism in the light of first-hand experience of it, drawing upon ideas and skills developed through units constitutive of their chosen pathway.
  • Thereby to add an experiential learning opportunity to their programme of graduate study.

Learning outcomes

An ability:

  • to summarise the knowledge, skills, and learning outcomes acquired during the Diploma stage of the MSc in International Development portfolio
  • to relate these to a professional experience relevant to international development and/or humanitarian action
  • to do all the above in written form that conforms to acceptable standards of presentation and expression

Content

A precondition for this unit is that the student should obtain written consent to collaborate with an organisation engaged in international development practice and/or humanitarian action, approved also by their Director of Studies. This should also be conditional on agreed Risk Assessment and Ethical Approval procedures.

Each practicum will have the following four parts:

  • description of the professional placement experience
  • critical reflection on how the skills and knowledge acquired during the taught component of the pathway relate to the placement
  • critical reflection on the placement experience in the light of the taught component of the pathway
  • identification and critical analysis of one (or more) issues arising from the placement that relates to material covered in the taught programme of the pathway

Social and environmental justice

Aims

  • To reflect on international development in the context of theories of social and environmental justice, and concerns about the 'just society' and 'just relations' with the environment.
  • To enable students to explore and reflect on mainstream, critical and alternative perspectives, theories and approaches to social and environmental justice.
  • To understand the economic, social and political processes which affect social and environmental justice.
  • To ground theoretical understandings of social and environmental justice in contemporary examples through the use of case studies.
  • To promote participation and the involvement of students in a deeper awareness of their own approaches and values to the issues addressed during the course.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able:

  • to identify and systematise the main socioeconomic aspects and contexts related to social and environmental justice
  • to identify and critically assess mainstream, critical and alternative perspectives and theories to social and environmental justice
  • to identify actors, arenas and conflicts in the process of mobilising for and pursuing social and environmental justice
  • to critically reflect on the significance and implications of their own values and perspectives to social and environmental justice​

Content

This unit will explore key contemporary research, theories and empirical examples of the social and economic dynamics and practices surrounding social and environmental justice.

The unit will cover mainstream and alternative theories and approaches to social and environmental justice such as liberal theories of justice (Rawls), social choice based approached to justice (Sen), new Marxist approaches to social justice; Decolonial/post-colonial theory; the coloniality of power and cognitive justice; social reproduction approach and feminist critiques.

These theories will be empirically substantiated by case studies which relate to social and environmental justice such as food security and food sovereignty; social, solidarity and alternative economies; ethical production and consumption; land use; mining and indigenous peoples; labour conditions and dignity of work; climate change, carbon trading and green transitions; corporate social responsibility, among others.​

The politics and practice of sustainability and wellbeing

Aims

  • ​To generate critical awareness of the ideological and practical politics of sustainability and wellbeing.
  • To equip students to undertake critical enquiry in the political economy and social analysis of sustainability and wellbeing.
  • To enable students to interrogate effectively evidence claims regarding the achievement of sustainability and wellbeing.
  • To enable students to operate in a cross-disciplinary context, to understand interconnections between human and environmental issues at a range of scales and to be able to communicate these effectively.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will:

  • demonstrate critical understanding of the politics of different framings of wellbeing and sustainability at global to local levels
  • be able to discuss critically key conceptual approaches, analytical debates, and methodological issues concerning the politics and practice of wellbeing and sustainability
  • be able to interrogate effectively different forms of evidence claims
  • be able to apply this knowledge to the empirical analysis of specific contexts and issues
  • be able to work effectively in a team and present research in a visual form

Content

This unit critically explores the ideological and practical politics of sustainability and wellbeing. We will interrogate their relations to each other – at times complementary, at other times in tension or contradictory. We will explore the range of methods used to advance evidence about wellbeing and sustainability. We will probe issues related to the political economy of production and consumption, and the power and the politics of evidence.

Indicative content:

  • complementarities and tensions between sustainability and wellbeing
  • varieties of wellbeing
  • responsibility for wellbeing
  • measuring wellbeing
  • wellbeing, identity and culture
  • sustainability and wellbeing as national political project
  • varieties of environmentalism
  • states and international organisations
  • NGOs and transnational environmental activism
  • business power and sustainability governance

Assessment

Class presentation of team project plans; Class presentation of team project posters (two weeks)

Issues covered may include: roads and infrastructure, energy, GMOs, climate change, mining and extractive industries, forest rights, green transitions, conservation and development, community based resource management, ethical consumption, and corporate social responsibility.

Learning approach

The unit will take an active learning approach, involving work in pairs and small groups, participatory activities and a team project. Team work will be supported by team-based tutorials with course convenors.