Local Economic Development and Policy

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Simona Iammarino STC S410 and Dr Riccardo Crescenzi STC S414


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in African Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Local Economic Development and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is freely available to all MSc students in the Department of Geography & Environment. The course is available subject to availability for all other MSc students.

Course content

This course deals with the analysis of theoretical and institutional issues, empirical evidence, development pre-requisites and economic development policies in the context of actions to stimulate the economic development of local and regional economies.

The course is split in two parts. Both are concerned with the analysis of local economic development theories and policies. The first part of the course (MT)  is concerned with 'bottom-up' approaches and focuses on locally initiated and managed processes which may involve a wide range of actors in shaping and implementing local economic development initiatives. The second part of the course (LT) is focused on the macro and meso-level determinants of regional and local economic development and on the design and implementation of the corresponding 'top-down' policies. 

Michaelmas Term: This section of the course is aimed at understanding the micro foundations of local economic development, that is the determinants and effects of the behaviour, strategies and choices of key economic actors: local firms, both small and large, multinational enterprises, universities and other education and research organisations, government bodies, industry associations, NGOs, local communities, etc. The study of theoretical approaches, empirical evidence and implications of the behaviour of such actors, and their interactions and linkages, will help building up the analytical framework to interpret the genesis of localised economic systems, their dynamics and evolution over time and the policy options, particularly, but not exclusively, from a bottom-up perspective. The lectures and workshops make use of an extended array of empirical examples and case studies across regions and industries, both in advanced and emerging economies, and consider the transferability of lessons and insights across space and time.

Lent Term: This section of the course is generally focused on the macro and meso-level determinants of regional and local economic development and on the capacity of 'top-down' policies to exert an influence on these drivers, promoting growth and social and territorial cohesion. The section starts by examining the existing disparities in regional economic performance in a number of industrial, emerging and developing countries, illustrating the scope and justification for government intervention in this area. The course then considers how different theories and approaches to local and regional economic development identify different macro and meso determinants of economic performance and, consequently, suggest differentiated sets of 'top-down' development policies. With these analytical tools in place, the EU regional policy is used as a case study to discuss the benefits of a 'balanced' approach to the analysis, design and implementation of regional development policies, overcoming the limitations of the one-sided approaches presented in the earlier part of the course. In this context, special attention will also be devoted to the cases of the United States, China and India in a comparative perspective.



20 hours of lectures and 18 hours of workshops in the MT. 20 hours of lectures and 27 hours of seminars in the LT. 4 hours of workshops in the ST.


Michaelmas Term: The lectures (two-hour) will be followed by workshops (2-hour), in which students will work on case studies/presentations in small groups of 4-5 people. The ST session concerns only the first part of the course in the Michaelmas Term (GY408 (MT)/GY415) and consist of Revision and Q&A sessions.

Lent Term: Seminar teaching is based on a combination of seminars and debates.

Formative coursework

One optional Mock exam in each MT and LT terms to be submitted, timings will be announced during the teaching. Feedback and indicative classification will be provided.

Indicative reading

Both terms' reading lists are mainly based on journal articles available in electronic format. Some of the readings will be chapters from the following books/publications: OECD, Competitive Cities in the Global Economy, 2006; R Capello, Regional Economics, Routledge, 2007; A Pike, A Rodriguez-Pose & J Tomaney, Local and Regional Development, 2006; R Crescenzi & A Rodríguez-Pose, Innovation and Regional Growth in the European Union, Springer, 2011; Lundvall, B-A., Joseph, KJ., Chaminade, C. and Vang, J. (Eds) Handbook of Innovation Systems and Developing Countries, Edward Elgar, 2009; S Iammarino & P McCann, Multinationals and Economic Geography: Location, Technology and Innovation, Edward Elgar 2013.

Reading lists are provided electronically on Moodle.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.9
Merit 51.4
Pass 32.4
Fail 1.4

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2015/16: 26

Average class size 2015/16: 30

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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