You are here:

Introduction to international development DV1171

This course provides students with an interdisciplinary introduction to the ideas, historical processes and events, policy debates and practical interventions that are shaping the economic, social and political direction of international development today.

Topics covered

Part 1: A framework for the course:

  • Ideas of development: Enlightenment origins; academic specialisation and colonialism; ideas of development after 1945.

Part 2: Theories of development

  • Theories of the State and market: Founding theories of the state; theorizations since 1945; founding theories of the market; theorizations since 1945.
  • Theories of institutions and civil society: Founding theories of institutions; recent theorizations; founding theories of civil society; theorizations since 1945.
  • The origins of Capitalism and the rise of the West: Why Europe?; the non-European world and early European imperialism; the age of empire.
  • The rise and fall of the era of national development: The Cold War and the Long Boom; political independence and ‘Third Worldism’; the crisis of the 1970s and its consequences.

Part 3: Key themes in development policy and practice:

  • Late development and industrial policy: Industrialisation – meaning and early approaches; implications for other aspects of development; late industrial policies; managing trade and investment.
  • Agrarian change and rural development: Land reform and agrarian reform; the ‘Green Revolution’; newer approaches to rural development.
  • Governance and public policy: Governance; Governance and corruption; understanding democracy; democracy and economic growth; democracy and poverty.
  • The international order: Understanding globalisation; how old is globalisation?; how does globalisation affect development?; has globalisation affected poverty and inequality?; understanding the international system – the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund 

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Show why development should be understood as global phenomenon
  • Discuss and critically evaluate the main intellectual traditions shaping international development today
  • Use a range of historical, political, economic and social concepts and facts in their analysis of development issues
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of how policy debates and practical interventions have evolved over time in the context of a number of key themes.


Unseen written exam (3 hr).

Essential reading

  • Desai, V. and Potter, R. (eds). The Companion to Development Studies. London: Hodder.
  • Todaro, M. and S. Smith. Economic Development. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.