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Unit information: Development Economics in 2018/19

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Unit name Development Economics
Unit code ECONM0003
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Berg
Open unit status Not open

Completion of first-term courses



School/department School of Economics
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This course focuses on human capital in poor countries. It covers theoretical and empirical material relating to the prevalence of low levels of education and child labour and poor health and high levels of childhood mortality. It focuses on the role of poverty/income and the role of the state, with an emphasis on the political economy of public goods provision.

The aim of the course is to introduce students to issues of fundamental importance to welfare, human development and growth in developing countries and to equip them with the techniques for modelling and analysing these questions as problems of resource allocation. The ultimate objective of the course is to provide students with the analytical apparatus needed to assess alternative policy measures directed at improving human development in poor countries.

This unit provides a thorough and in-depth treatment of the core topics in development economics, with a particular emphasis on the interaction of theoretical and empirical modelling.

Students will be equipped with the skills to understand and evaluate empirical findings on the determinants of economic outcomes in developing countries and the impacts of policy interventions.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Describe key areas of focus within the field of development economics.

2. Explain how bottlenecks in the process of human development can be understood in economic terms.

3. Summarise, assess and critique, using their knowledge of economic theory and econometrics, a number of key readings in the field.

4. Draw on research findings to recommend policies for economic and human development.

Teaching details

The methods of teaching include lectures and classes. Lectures will introduce and explain the concepts, as well as their applications. Classes will provide the opportunity to discuss specific papers and ideas in more detail. Classes will also be used for student presentations on chosen topics.

  • 16 hours lectures (whole group)
  • 8 hours classes (small group classes typically of no more than 15 students)
  • 2½ hours final exam
  • 123½ hours of individual study

2 hours of lectures (whole group)

1 hour of class (small group)

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

2½ hour written exam – 100%. Tests ILOs 1-4.

Formative assessment:

Exercises, class participation, discussion and presentation in classes. These will provide further opportunities for feedback on the students’ progress.

Reading and References

The course readings largely consist of recent journal articles. The following are not all directly related to the course, but are useful background reading for students interested in the area.

  • Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson. 2013. 'Why Nations Fail'. Profile Books.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit and Esther Duflo. 2011. 'Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty'. PublicAffairs
  • Bardhan, Pranab and Christopher Udry. 1999. 'Development Microeconomics'. Oxford University Press.
  • Ray, Debraj. 1998. 'Development Economics'. Princeton University Press.