Not available in 2018/19
DV480      Half Unit
Revolution and Development

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jean-Paul Faguet CON 8.06


This course is available on the 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 Environment and Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development and MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is also available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.  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.


So specific course pre-requisites.  A good social science background will be very helpful, especially politics and economics.

Course content

Revolutions break things, but do they also build?  If so, what precisely?  What causes revolutions?  What do revolutions cause?  This course examines the successes and failures of revolution as a model of change in generating large and sustainable improvements in economic, political and social development.  We begin by defining "revolution" as a discrete, analytically distinct model of change.  We then examine revolutions per se -- abrupt, significant, and often violent changes in governance and the distribution of power and wealth in society.  Likely examples include the Glorious Revolution, and the French, Mexican, Russian, Chinese, Bolivian and Vietnamese Revolutions.  We evaluate the immediate and long-term costs of these episodes in light of changes that resulted in each country's development trajectory.  We contrast these cases with more gradual processes of change ('evolutions', often called "reform").  Examples include episodes of rapid growth, improving living standards, and increasing political incorporation in France, China, Bolivia, and Vietnam, as well as the US, Japan, Germany, Finland, New Zealand/Australia, and Argentina.  We focus on the conditions that sustained revolutionary vs. non-revolutionary processes of change across these cases, and then on the ability of each model of change to cause lasting improvements in societies' economic, political and social development.


22 hours of lectures, 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars and 1 hour and 30 minutes of workshops in the MT.

Lectures will present key theoretical insights and lay our the contours of major debates from the literature.  Seminars will be student-led, and will probe each week's topic in more detail, both to clarify concepts and test them against evidence, some of which students will draw up and present independently.  The workshop is a different sort of exercise, intended to give thorough review to students' research proposals in a constructuvely critical, colleagial atmosphere.  Each student will present their research proposal and then receive feedback from fellow students and faculty.

This includes a 2 hour revision session in MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.

In preparation for their research essay, students will submit a formative research proposal, which they will present in a research workshop in MT.  This will receive detailed written, and also oral, feedback intended to improve the proposal.  They will then revise the proposal and re-submit as summative work.

Students will also complete seminar presentations, individually or in pairs (depending on student numbers), which will receive formative feedback.

Indicative reading

A detailed, weekly reading list will be provided at the start of term:

Arendt, Hannah. 2006. On Revolution. London: Penguin Classics.

Boix, Carles. 2015. Political Order and Inequality: Their Foundations and their Consequences for Human Welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brady, H. and D. Collier. 2010. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (second, expanded edition). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dix, Robert H. 1983. "The Varieties of Revolution." Comparative Politics, 15 (3): 281-294.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Moore, Barrington. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

North, D., J. Wallis, and B. Weingast. 2009. Violence and social orders: A conceptual framework for interpreting recorded human history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto.

Skocpol, Theda. 1979. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tilly, Charles. 1995. European Revolutions: 1492-1992. Oxford: Blackwell.

de Tocqueville, Alexis. 1865. The Old Regime and the Revolution. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Tucker, Robert C. (Ed.). 1975. The Lenin Anthology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

University Library. Writing a Research Proposal. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.



Presentation (10%) and research proposal (20%) in the MT.
Research project (70%) in the ST.

Further details:

Research paper (6,000 words, 70%) in the ST.

Research proposal (2,000 words, 20%) in MT.

Seminar presentation (10%) in MT.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2017/18: Unavailable

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

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