GY309      Half Unit
The Political Geography of Development

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Camilla Royle


This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course analyses the politics of contemporary development processes and the geopolitical interests that influence them. We will critically explore the assumption that peace leads to development and development leads to peace. The course considers development as both practical pursuit and as a series of discourses and representations. Topics addressed include: Critical Approaches to Development; Histories of Development and Geopolitics (Cold War through Neoliberal Contexts); 9/11 and the Security-Development Nexus; The Geopolitics of Climate Change; and New Geopolitical Landscapes (China and South-South Ties). The course will examine these themes using various case studies from the Global South and students are encouraged to develop their own research interests. 


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures, in-person lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures across Lent Term.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one formative essay plan in the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

A comprehensive reading list will be provided during the course. Recommended readings include:

  • Chant, S.; McIlawine, C., 2009. Geographies of Development in the 21st Century. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
  • Feldman, S.; Geisler, C.; and Menon, G., 2011. Accumulating Insecurity: Violence and Dispossession in the Making of Everyday Life.  Georgia: University of Georgia press.
  • Flint, C, 2016, Introduction to Geopolitics, London and New York: Taylor and Francis. 
  • Gregory, D., 2004. The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Kapoor, I., 2008. The Postcolonial Politics of Development. London: Routledge.
  • Massaro, V.A.; Williams, J., 2013. Feminist Geopolitics. Geography Compass 7(8), pp. 567-577. 
  • Mercille, J., 2011. Violent narco-cartels or US hegemony? The political economy of the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico. Third World Quarterly 32(9), pp.1637-1653.
  • Onslow, S., 2009. Cold War in Southern Africa: White Power, Black Liberation. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Power, M., 2018. Geopolitics and Development. London: Routledge.
  • Said, E., 2003. Orientalism. UK: Penguin.
  • Wright, M., 2011. Necropolitics, Narcopolitics, and Femicide: Gendered Violence on the Mexico-U.S. Border. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36(3), pp. 707-731.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 42.6
2:1 40.7
2:2 13.9
Third 0.9
Fail 1.9

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2021/22: 40

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half 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
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills