DV490      Half Unit
Economic Development Policy I: Applied Policy Analysis for Macroeconomic Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Diana Weinhold


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, 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 Environmental Economics and Climate Change, 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.

Enrolment will be controlled through the use of a pre-quiz administered in the first week of term (see DV490 Moodle page for details).

Course content

This course explores the foundations of applied macroeconomic policy analysis by combining a rigorous but intuitive introduction to advanced econometric methods with applications to the theory and empirics of long-run growth in developing countries. Throughout the course, lectures provide analytical but non-technical overviews of broad themes in long-run growth and development policy, including growth theory, institutions and history, economic geography, globalization, inequality, balance of payments and financial crises, debt, environmental policy and international aid. There is a strong emphasis on how the body of knowledge has evolved over time via the synthesis of theoretical advances and rigorous empirical testing.

Seminars in the first half of term will introduce students to the statistical foundations of econometric analysis and build analytical skills to read, interpret, and critique econometric approaches to causal identification commonly used in the academic development literature. We engage directly with quantitative methodology and regression analysis, developing rigorous intuition rather than learning technical formulas, with the focus on teaching students from a broad range of backgrounds to understand and critically consume high-level applied research in a sophisticated manner.  The seminars in the second half of term give students an opportunity to repeatedly practice and improve their analytical skills by working through methodologically-focussed problem sets based on top academic journal articles addressing issues from the lectures on macroeconomic development. 

While some background in economics and/or statistics is helpful, the course is designed to be engaging and challenging for students from a broad variety of backgrounds, from those with no economics and statistics to those with more advanced skills in either one or both areas.  Strong analytical skills (whether quantitative or not) and a sturdy work ethic are the best predictors of success.


Important:  For students without strong skills in economics and statistics DV490 constitutes the foundational prerequisite for DV491 and/or DV492 in the Lent term.  Students without a (very) strong background in economics and statistics are highly recommended to take both DV490 and either DV491 or DV492 or both, and consider them together as a full 1 or 1.5 unit course. Our experience is that the majority of students benefit most from a minimum of a full academic year of repeated practice and exposure to the techniques covered to develop their intuition and ability, and students who take only the first half unit with thus be at a distinct disadvantage. In addition, while DV490 will build a foundational knowledge, DV491 and DV492 will cover additional empirical approaches more commonly employed in micro-development economics, as well as providing an introduction to statistical programming in STATA, thus rounding out students’ exposure to empirical methods more fully.

Students who would like to take DV490, DV491, or DV492 in isolation are invited to take a “Parachuter’s Exam” at the beginning of MT to assess their quantitative skills. More information on the Parachuter’s Exam can be found on the DV490, DV491 and/or DV492 Moodle page or from the course instructors.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

There will be two hours of lectures in the ST.

There will be a Reading Week in week 6.

Formative coursework

Weekly online quizzes provide formative feedback on student progress. In addition students are expected to complete weekly unassessed problem sets and come prepared to discuss them in seminars.

Indicative reading

The bulk of the course will be taught using journal articles. A reading list will be handed out by the lecturers at the beginning of their sessions. Useful reference texts include Mastering ‘Metrics:the Path from Cause to Effect, by Angrist & Pischke, Princeton University Press (2014); and The Quest for Growth by W. Easterly, MIT Press (2001)


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.
In class assessment (30%) in the MT.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.3
Merit 65.9
Pass 14.9
Fail 1.9

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2018/19: 69

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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