DV464      Half Unit
Democracy and Development

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Elliott Green CON.8.07


This course is available on the 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 Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is also available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. 

Students will be allocated places to courses with priority to ID and joint-degree students.  If there are more ID and joint-degree students than the course can accommodate, these spots will be allocated randomly.

Course content

One could argue that the ‘holy grail’ in the study of political economy is the relationship between democracy and development.  Does economic development lead to democracy?  Are democracies better at promoting development than non-democracies?  This course examines this topic in a broad perspective, in both historical and contemporary contexts, and in theoretical and empirical debates.

The course is roughly divided into two, with the first half tackling theories of democracy and development while the second examines empirical evidence.  In the first half we will examine historical theories explaining why development can promote democratization from authors such as Seymour Lipset and Barrington Moore, before focussing on contemporary debates from Acemoglu/Robinson, Przeworski and Rodrik.  We then focus on the effect of democratization on development, specifically via a discussion of public goods provision, before examining the topic of inequality, redistribution and democracy with attention to Thomas Piketty’s recent work.  We conclude the first half of the course by discussing the indirect effects of development on democracy via changes in religion, ethnicity and nationalism, with attention to how development can promote secularism, ethnic homogenization and national identity formation.

The second half of the course focusses on specific countries and groups of countries.  We start by examining countries which have developed without becoming democracies, with a focus on examples from East Asia (especially China and Vietnam) and the Middle East (the Gulf states).  We then have individual lectures on three of the BRICS countries, namely South Africa, India and Brazil, as countries which have seen complex and varied attempts to democratize and develop.  Finally, we conclude by speculating on the future of development and democracy in the developing world.


20 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Formative assessment will be be based on questions provided to students on the reading list assessed by the seminar leader, such that the feedback is given to the student before the end of Michaelmas term.  Students will submit a practice essay that is 2000 words long. The marks will be indicative (i.e., P for Pass, D for distinction). This essay will then be used as a basis for the final, summative essay to be due in January.

Indicative reading

Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen. 2013. An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions. London: Penguin.

Ferguson, James. 2015. Give a Man A Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Duke University Press.

Krishna, Anirudh (ed.). 2008. Poverty, Participation and Democracy: A Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Min, Brian. 2015. Power and the Vote: Elections and Electricity in the Developing World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moore, Barrington. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Third World. Boston: Beacon Press

Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens. 1992. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Stokes, Susan, Thad Dunning, Marcelo Nazareno, and Valeria Busco. 2013. Brokers, Voters and Clientelism: The Puzzle of Distributives Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wimmer, Andreas. 2018. Nation-Building: Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart. Princeton, NJ:Princeton University Press.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the LT Week 1.

Students are to complete a formative essay of 2000 words long, to be due at such a time that they will receive comments back from their seminar teacher before the end of Michaelmas term. They will then revise the essay according to the comments they receive and resubmit it as a 4000 word essay in Lent Term. 

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.

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills