DV424      Half Unit
International Institutions and Late Development

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kenneth Shadlen CON.7.08


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MSc in African Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Global Politics (Global Civil Society), MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Management, MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), MSc in Media, Communication and Development and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

Please note that in case of over-subscription to this course priority will be given to students from the Department of International Development and its joint degrees (where their regulations permit).

Course content

This course examines the politics of the international economy. We analyze the overarching rules and regulations that structure the international economy, and thereby provide context for development policy; and we assess the role of a range of actors (e.g. governments, firms, non-state actors) in shaping and reshaping the international economic order. We are particularly interested in understanding the ways that developing countries respond to and participate in international regimes and organizations, and how changes in global economic governance affect opportunities for economic development. The first week, which synthesizes a variety of explanations of the role that international organizations play in global politics, establishes the theoretical spine for the course. We then examine governance in international sovereign debt and finance, public and private. We analyze the politics of debt relief for the poorest and most heavily-indebted countries, where most of the debt is owed to public creditors; and we analyze the politics of debt restructuring for middle-income countries where significant shares of the debt is owed to private/commercial creditors. The course then turns to the politics of international trade, investment, and intellectual property. This cluster of five sessions is organized around a dialogue between multilateral and regional frameworks for integration into the global economy. For this section of the course the World Trade Organization (WTO) serves as our principal point of reference. We examine the emergence of the WTO, both in terms of the substance of the Uruguay Round agreements and as an inter-governmental organization with its own set of procedures for agenda-setting, rule-making, and dispute-settlement. We then examine emerging arrangements for global governance in the areas of foreign investment and intellectual property. Finally, we focus explicitly on the resurgence of new, North-South, bilateral and regional trade agreements, focusing on the implications of such agreements for development and the factors that contribute to their proliferation. In concluding the course we assess alternatives for reforming global multilateral economic organizations, e.g. the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and WTO. Then, taking a step back and reviewing the term's material from a "birds-eye view," we analyze contrasting trajectories of change in two development regimes, one regarding "industrial transformation" and mobility in the international division of labour, and another regarding "humanitarianism" and poverty reduction.


20 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

There will be a two hour revision session in late LT or early ST.

Formative coursework

Students have an opportunity to submit written work for formative assessment. Details of the exercise will be announced early in the term.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list is presented at the beginning of term.


Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (40%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.5
Merit 64.7
Pass 15.3
Fail 0.5

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2014/15: 68

Average class size 2014/15: 14

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills