Development Economics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Oriana Bandiera 32L.3.02 and Prof Robin Burgess 32L.3.03


This course is available on the BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History, BSc in Economics with Economic History, BSc in Geography with Economics, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Politics and Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


This course makes use of key concepts in economic theory as well as econometric analysis. We welcome all students with a strong background and proven record in quantitative courses such as econometrics, statistics, microeconomics, mathematics, other advanced economics courses.

Course content

This course explores the microeconomic foundations of economic development. We will discuss economic growth, inequality, poverty traps, labor markets, capital markets, education, health, gender, service delivery, taxation, the role of the state, governance and accountability, conflict, access to finance, infrastructure, trade, firms and markets, energy, environment and climate change. .In studying each of these topics, we will ask: what determines the decisions of households and firms in less developed countries? What constraints do they face? Is there scope to improve livelihoods and productivity through the actions of governments, international organizations, NGOs, or market participants? What policies have been tried? How have they fared? This course combines theory and empirics but maintains a strong applied focus. Under each theme, we will derive testable implications from the theory, subject these predictions to econometric testing, comment on the robustness of the results obtained, and seek to draw policy conclusions.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 50 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes, live streamed (recorded) lectures, and some flipped content delivered as short online videos.

Formative coursework

Feedback is provided for four assignments (two in MT and 2 in LT)

Indicative reading

Teaching in the course will be done mainly from journal articles drawn from the forefront of theoretical and applied research in development economics. Background texts for the course are A. Banerjee and E. Duflo, Poor Economics, Public Affairs, 2011 and D. Ray, Development Economics, Princeton UP, 1998.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

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: Economics

Total students 2020/21: 128

Average class size 2020/21: 21

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills