GY309      Half Unit
The Political Geography of Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Megan Ryburn STC 3.06


This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

A critical analysis of the politics of contemporary development processes in the South and the global interests that influence them. The course considers development as both practical pursuit and as a series of discourses and representations. Three key themes are covered:

1. Key concepts and historical overview.

Introduces critical approaches to development, and provides an overview of development during the Cold War.

2. Securing development in the 21st century

Addresses discourses and representations in relation to the security-development nexus, focusing on immigration, disease, drugs, and violence.

3. Doing development in the 21st century

Examines development in practice, looking especially at approaches to tackling informality and chronic unemployment, such as microfinance, and universal basic income.


13 hours and 30 minutes of lectures, 9 hours of classes and 2 hours of classes in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one formative essay plan in the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

Power, M., 2018. Geopolitics and development. London: Routledge.

Kapoor, I., 2008. The postcolonial politics of development. London: Routledge.

Darling, J., 2016. Privatizing asylum: Neoliberalisation, depoliticisation, and the governance of forced migration. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41(3), pp.230-243.

Farmer, P., 2006. Aids and accusation: Haiti and the geography of blame 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Mercille, J. 2011. Violent narco-cartels or US hegemony? The political economy of the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico. Third World Quarterly 32(9), pp.1637-1653.

Moser, C., and McIlwaine, C., 2014. Editorial: New frontiers in twenty-first century urban conflict and violence. Environment and Urbanisation 26(2), pp.331-344.

Simone, A., 2018. Improvising lives: Afterlives of an urban South. Cambridge UK: Polity.

Han, C., 2012. Life in debt: Times of care and violence in neoliberal Chile. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Ferguson, J., 2015. Give a man a fish: Reflections on the new politics of distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Roy, A. 2010. Poverty capital: Microfinance and the making of development. London: Routledge.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (25%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2018/19: 34

Average class size 2018/19: 17

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills