Development Management

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mahvish Shami CON.8.24 and Prof Jean-Paul Faguet CON.8.06


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Anthropology and Development Management and MSc in Development Management. This course is available on the MSc in Political Science and Political Economy. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why are some governed well and others badly? This course employs a political economy approach to examine the causes of development, identify the underlying obstacles to development, and evaluate potential solutions. It focuses on the principles governing the institutions, politics, and organisations through which policies, programmes and projects are produced and implemented.  Attention is given to the different kinds of authority, incentives and accountability mechanisms that govern the relationships between leaders, managers and recipients. It reviews ongoing debates about the best ways of designing state agencies, private firms and NGOs, by showing how centralised bureaucracies, markets, participatory and solidaristic agencies operate to provide services in practice. It explores the dynamics of different forms of democratic and authoritarian states, the determinants of good and poor governance, and how social, political and economic forces interact to drive change and stability. In order to enable students to make practical judgments about institutional reform programmes in various contexts, competing approaches to development are critically and constructively analyzed in light of case studies. The course is divided into several parts:  Analytical Assumptions,  Government and Governance, Private Sector, and Civil Society. On completing the course students should be able to: (i) use theory to identify the causes of actual development challenges, (ii) identify and assess relevant case study material to inform development practice; and (iii) employ the insights developed throughout the course to formulate policy recommendations and plans of action for improving development.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops in the MT & LT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration. There will be 8 hours of workshops in the LT.

There will additionally be an introductory workshop at the start of MT. Students are expected to attend all these sessions. Lectures will focus on the theoretical debates driving current policy practice in the development community, while seminars will relate these to practical problems of implementation, drawing on case studies, class exercises, and the personal experience of participants. Seminars will discuss topics covered in the lecture, and will be conducted on the basis either of a student presentation or a class exercise.

MSc in Development Management and MSc in Anthropology and Development students (only) will also take part in and be assessed on the Development Management Project, a live consultancy exercise for real development agencies in consultation with International Development staff. Workshops will be organised to assist student groups to formulate their proposals and negotiate their projects with their commissioning agencies. These students will also be offered mandatory special sessions specifically on practical and professional aspects of the consultancy projects, development management workshops, and a development policy debate.

There will be a revision session in early ST.

Formative coursework

In the Michaelmas Term, all students are expected to produce one short essay on a topic agreed with an individual tutor, to prepare them for the final exam. In addition, MSc in Political Science and Political Economy students are expected to produce a formative case study analysis presentation in MT, to prepare them for their assessed presentation in LT.

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list is provided at the first course meeting. Background readings include: Brett, E.A. (2009) Reconstructing Development Theory; Faguet, JP. 2012. Decentralization and Popular Democracy: Governance from Below in Bolivia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; Chang, H. 2003, Rethinking development economics, Anthem Press; London, Intermediate Technology; Kohli, A. 2004 State-directed development: political power and industrialization in the global periphery, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press; Linz, J. & A. Stepan, Problems of democratic transition and consolidation, Johns Hopkins; Olson, M. 1982 The rise and decline of nations, Yale University Press; North, D. 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press. Putnam, R. D. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press; Rodrik, D. (Ed.). 2003. In Search of Prosperity: Analytical Narratives on Economic Growth: Princeton University Press; Sen. A., 1999 Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press; Stiglitz, J. 2002 Globalization and its discontents, Allen Lane, 2002; World Bank, World Development Report, 2004, Making services work for poor people, Washington, World Bank.


Assessment path 1
Exam (20%, duration: 1 hour) in the summer exam period.
Project (40%) and presentation (5%) in the LT.
Take-home assessment (35%) in the ST.

Assessment path 2
Exam (25%, duration: 1 hour) in the summer exam period.
Take-home assessment (55%) in the ST.
Presentation (20%) in the LT.

Assessment Path 1 (for MSc in Development Management and MSc in Anthropology and Development Management students)

Assessment Path 2 (for MSc in Political Science and Political Economy students):

Students are required to pass the final exam in the main exam period in order to pass the course. A fail in the exam cannot be condoned by a pass in other elements of assessment.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 31.8
Merit 61.9
Pass 5.3
Fail 1

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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: International Development

Total students 2020/21: 96

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One 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
  • Specialist skills