Not available in 2019/20
MC405      Half Unit
Policy and Practice in ICTs and Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Savita Bailur


This course is available on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance) and MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. Whist we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course.

Course content

Policy and practice in ICTs and development do not always align. What are day-to-day ICT practices of users, particularly in the Global South? And how does one design an ICT (information and communication) policy which is as inclusive as possible? What are the decision-making processes involved in policy - for example, in mobile regulation, digital labour, payments and transfers and e-waste, just to take a few examples? This course will examine ICT policies and their relationship with society and development, drawing on multi-disciplinary theories and mutual learning from other modules (for example, MC424, MC403, MC421). We discuss issues including competition and regulation, ICTs and development, overcoming affordability barriers, information rights, the value of data, data sovereignty and privacy, mobile internet use,  and ICT waste. For example, some of the topics we have discussed in the past include competition and regulation in Bhutan, mobile internet and income generation for women in China, policy-making surrounding the political economy of billing in South Africa and international practices and (lack of) policy on global flows of e-waste. .

Course objectives are: to examine the juxtaposition and gaps between current common ICT practices (e.g. using Whatsapp to sell homemade goods), and formal policies and accountable stakeholders (who regulates this?); to understand current experience and the application of policy development and research methods in these areas; and to illustrate these issues from practical experience.


5 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

This class is taught in flexible way and requires every student to attend a two-hour seminar each week and a one-hour guest lecture every other week. The guest lecture series is shared with MC405/403 and students are strongly encouraged to attend all 10 guest lectures.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, prepare seminar presentations, and submit one mid-term formative 1500 word formative essay.

Indicative reading

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (2009). Future Consumer: Emerging consumer Issues in Telecommunications and Convergent Communications and Media, Sydney.

Broadband Commission (2015). The state of broadband 2015: broadband as a foundation for sustainable development.  ITU and UNESCO.

Donner, J. (2015). After access: Inclusion, development, and a more mobile Internet, Cambridge, MIT Press.

Development as freedom – how the Capability Approach can be used in ICT4D research and practice, Information Technology for Development, 18:1 (2012), Thematic Special Issue.

Graham, M., Hjorth, I., Lehdonvirta, V. (2017). Digital labour and development: impacts of global digital labour platforms and the gig economy on worker livelihoods. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research.

Heeks, R. (2010). Do information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to development?. Journal of International Development, 22(5), 625-640.

International Telecommunication Union (2015). Measuring the Information Society.

Mansell, R. (2012). Imagining the Internet: Communication, Innovation, and Governance, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Souter, D. ed. (2009). The APC ICT Policy Handbook, Association for Progressive Communications.

Toyama, K. (2015). Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. Public Affairs.

Unwin, Tim (ed.) (2009). ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Wicker, S. B., & Santoso, S. M. (2013). Access to the internet is a human right. Communications of the ACM, 56 (6), 43-46.

World Bank (2016). Digital Dividends: World Development Report, Washington DC, World Bank.

Wu, T. (2010).The Master Switch: The rise and fall of information empires, New York: Alfred Knopf


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 24.6
Merit 47.8
Pass 27.5
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

This course considers how conflicting interests are handled in policymaking for communications (focusing on internet and mobile phones); and the outcomes of these often messy processes, looking both inwards to how the sector works, and outwards to how it affects society and development.

Students' comments

"I was very pleased with the practical approach to the course content and the critical look on real situations when the underlying theory does not operate perfectly. I thought the interactivity of the seminars was excellent."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness