DV407      Half Unit

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Elliott Green CON.8.07 and Dr Mahvish Shami CON.8.12


This course is available on the IMEX Exchange, MSc in African Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Population and Development, MSc in Social Policy and Development, MSc in Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The course is an interdisciplinary analysis of poverty, where the focus is on poverty both as a dependent variable (what causes poverty) and an independent variable (what poverty causes). The course will draw from a variety of disciplines but will pay special attention to the political economy of poverty; however, no prior mathematical or statistical qualification is required.

The topics to be covered begin with an examination into the definition and measurement of poverty. We focus as well on the relationship between poverty and inequality, education, gender and human development, with special attention to the relationship between poverty, violence, and democracy. We also examine the origins of modern famines and whether democratization contributes to poverty reduction. We close with further thoughts on poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

There will be a ninety minute revision session in late LT or early ST.

Indicative reading

The course has two required purchase books, namely Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (PublicAffairs/Penguin, 2011). Other texts that will be useful include Sabina Alkire, Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction (Oxford University Press, 2005); Anirudh Krishna, ed. Poverty, Participation and Democracy: A Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines (Oxford University Press, 1981).


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 7.7
Merit 78.6
Pass 13.1
Fail 0.6

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2015/16: 60

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 81%



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