Development Management

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Elliott Green CON.8.07


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Development Management and MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available on the MSc in Political Science (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 AT and WT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration.

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.

There will be a revision session in early ST.

Formative coursework

In the Autumn Term, all students are expected to prepare a presentation and produce one short essay on the readings of a particular week, to prepare them for the final exam. 

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list is provided at the first course meeting. Background readings include:

  • Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. New York: Crown.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Esther Duflo. 2011. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: Public Affairs.
  • Easterly, William. 2002. The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics: Economists Adventures and Misadventure in the Tropics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Faguet, Jean-Paul. 2012. Decentralization and Popular Demcracy: Governance from Below in Bolivia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Kohli, Atul. 2004. State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global Periphery. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Tang, Shiping. 2022. The Institutional Foundations of Economic Development. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Exam (35%, duration: 1 hour) in the spring exam period.
Take-home assessment (55%) in the ST.
Presentation (10%) in the WT.

(The take-home assessment will be a 24 hour exam over the weekend in ST).

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 31.2
Merit 64.6
Pass 3.9
Fail 0.4

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 85

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & 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

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills