AP1ID4-People, Power and Policy in International Development

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Jo Davies

Email: joanne.davies@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

International development is political; who writes the agenda on how ‘development’ should be achieved? Development is not a neutral concept - it is embedded in a complex web of interests and power relations that can serve to keep people poor and to perpetuate inequality.

Where does power lie? Whose knowledge legitimises development policy? What agency do people have in the process of development? Which development actors have legitimacy to set development policy agendas? The agendas and decisions of global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation; corruption in some developed and developing country governments (including lobbying and vested interests); the power of civil society and the politics of development interventions on the ground: these avenues are explored in order to discover who makes the decisions upon which development agendas are based.


The aim of this module is to allow students to investigate the sources of power that drive the development agenda, taking into account issues of influence, knowledge and agency. Participants will be able to reflect on the nature of power in the context of international development. The impact of power imbalances and inequalities on the lives of people living in poverty will be explored.

Assessable learning outcomes:

On completion of the module participants will be able to: 1a) Gain a systematic understanding of the way in which global institutions set the development agenda 1b) Critically assess whether institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank are driven by a ‘Western’ agenda designed to further ‘Western’ interests 2a) Understand and describe the way in which corruption can impact upon a country’s development 2b) Identify and evaluate power relations that allow corruption to flourish 3a) Appreciate the role of civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in development 3b) Determine what value local knowledge and alternative paradigms are afforded in development, and evaluate what their role ought to be

Additional outcomes:
1)Devise and sustain arguments
2)An appreciation of the uncertainty and ambiguity of knowledge
3)Evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data
4)Communicate information, problems and solutions

Outline content:

• Exploring the ‘Power Cube’ and tools for undertaking power analysis in development - How global institutions set the development agenda • Has the West driven the global agenda to further its own interests – and what impact will the rise of the emerging economies (BRICs) have on this agenda? • The drivers behind, and the impact of, corruption and vested interests within both developed and developing country governments • The role of the private sector and multi-national corporations in international development • An exploration of the role of local power structures in development interventions, taking into account issues of knowledge and agency 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

A variety of teaching methods will be used. Class sessions will include lectures, group discussions and activities based on video clips or other media. Learning activities outside the classroom will involve group work for presentation and guided reading.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Oral assessment and presentation 30

Other information on summative assessment:
Assessment is by 100% coursework, which may differ from the above.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By class test during the re-examination period.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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