IDM095-Theories and Practices of Development

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Alex Arnall


Type of module:

Summary module description:
IDM095 examines contemporary theories and practices of international development and poverty reduction in developing countries around the world.

The goal of IDM095 is to provide students with an overview of the main concepts, ideas and interventions in international development theory and practice. It demonstrates the complex interactions between the social, economic and political factors that make up processes of development at multiple levels, from local to global, and between industrialised and industrialising nations.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module, students should be able to:
•Describe different approaches to development theory and practice, and their links to changing ideas about poverty reduction and social justice in developing countries;
•Explain the interrelationships between local, national and global development processes, and the different stakeholder groups that exist across these different levels; and
•Critically reflect on their personal and professional development as a result of their engagement with the module content, as well as externally-organised events seminars and presentations.

Additional outcomes:
IDM095 is intended to act as a common point of reference for MSc and MA students with an interest in international development at the University of Reading. Through exploration of cross-disciplinary issues, IDM095 will help students to synthesise and consolidate ideas and concepts gained in their wider degree programmes.

Outline content:

IDM095 is divided into four distinct but interrelated parts, each lasting 4-5 weeks:

  • Part 1, ‘Knowledge’, will explore how our understandings of what development is and what it should do are generated, validated and reproduced

  • Part 2, ‘Power’, will examine how politics and other processes of influence work in relation to developments

  • Part 3, ‘Scale’, will consider what development looks like at different levels (i.e. local, national, global), as well as new theoretical approaches designed to supplant scale altogether;

  • Part 4, ‘Dynamics’, will look at how development processes change over time and introduce some of the ways in which we can try to comprehend development’s complexities.

Individual lectures will be structured as follows: 


1. Introduction


2. Modernisation

3. Measuring development

4. Development futures

5. Indigenous/local knowledge


6. Agency, empowerment and participation

7. Hegemony

8. Political economy

9. Discourse and political ecology

10. Resistance


11. The nation state

12. Community-based development

13. Global governance: the UN

14. Global policymaking: Disaster Risk Reduction

15. Bypassing scale: networks, translocalism and development assemblages


16. Systems-based approaches

17. Resilience

18. Migration, movement and mobility

19. Population resettlement

20. Development and everyday life

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching and learning will be delivered via lectures, group discussions and independent study. New concepts and ideas will be supported by ‘real life’ case studies from developing countries.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20
Seminars 2
Guided independent study 78 80
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:
An examination based on the autumn and spring term programmes (60%).

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Coursework during autumn and spring term: A reflective diary based on attendance at lectures plus additional seminars and events (40%). Completion of the reflective diary will be supported by a two-hour formative exercise during welcome week in autumn term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
An essay of between 2,500 and 3,000 words on a topic chosen from a list given by the module convenor.

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: 20 April 2018


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