SP433      Half Unit
Rural Livelihoods, Development and Social Transformation

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Lewis OLD2.40


This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations) and MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.



Knowledge of rural areas and relevant work experience is desirable but not essential. Knowledge of sociological and anthropological approaches to studying rural development also desirable.

Course content

This Course considers: Theories of rural development and transformation, history of rural development policy, changing rural livelihoods, land and agrarian reform, agricultural research and extension, the roles of private and non-governmental actors, natural resource management, food security, climate change and rural-urban linkages.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures and 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

A formative 1500 word essay is required, and feedback will be provided.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list is included in the seminar programme. The following is an introductory reading list:

  • J Boltvinik & SA Mann (eds.) Peasant poverty and persistence in the 21st century: theories, debates, realities and policies (2016);
  • T M Li, Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier (2014);
  • I Scoones & J Thompson, Farmer First Revisited (2009); 
  • R McAreavey, Rural Development Theory and Practice (2009); 
  • A Shepherd, Sustainable Rural Development (1998);
  • B Crow & H Bernstein (Eds), Rural Lives: Crises and Responses (1992);
  • N Long, Development Sociology: Actor Perspectives (2001).


Essay (100%, 3500 words) in the ST.

Students are required to write an assessed essay of 3,500 words.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 35

Average class size 2019/20: 18

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication