Development Economics

This information is for the 2022/23 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 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 (EC220 or EC221 or EC2C1 or EC2C3 and EC2C4, or equivalent), statistics (ST107 or  ST102, or ST109 combined with EC1C1), microeconomics (EC201 or EC202 or EC2A1 or EC2A3, or equivalent) and mathematics (MA107 or MA100).

Course content

This course explores the microeconomic foundations of economic development. We will discuss economic growth, inequality, poverty traps, labour 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 9 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of LT (no lectures or classes that week)..

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 50 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term.  

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.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2021/22: 169

Average class size 2021/22: 21

Capped 2021/22: No

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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