SP412      Half Unit
Non-Governmental Organisations, Social Policy and Development

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Timothy Hildebrandt


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations). This course is available on the MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Education), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration) and MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.



Students will benefit from having some experience of work within NGOs and/or relevant government departments or donor agencies working with NGOs.

Course content

The course focuses on the specialised field of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the field of social policy and development, and considers theoretical and policy issues.

Main topics include the history and theory of NGOs; the changing policy contexts in which NGOs operate; NGO service delivery and advocacy roles in policy; NGO relationships with other institutional actors including government, donors and private sector; challenges of NGO effectiveness and accountability; NGO organisational growth and change; and conceptual debates around civil society, social capital, social movements and globalisation.


All teaching will be in accordance with the LSE Academic Code (https://info.lse.ac.uk/current-students/lse-academic-code) which specifies a "minimum of two hours taught contact time per week when the course is running in the Autumn Term (AT) and/or Winter Term (WT)". Social Policy courses are predominantly taught through a combination of in-person Lectures and In person classes/seminars. Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

This course is taught in AT.

Formative coursework

Students will sit a mock exam as their formative work and will receive feedback from their academic Mentor.

Weekly student led seminars which involve discussion of the assigned readings will also help to develop students' critical thinking, reading, and analytical skills 

Indicative reading

  • Bebbington, A., Hickey, S. and Mitlin, D. (2008) Can NGOs Make a Difference? London: Zed Books; 
  • Beck, E. (2017) How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations With Guatemalan NGOs. London: Duke.
  • Edwards, M. and Hulme, D. (1996) NGOs, Performance and Accountability: Beyond the Magic Bullet. London: Earthscan;
  • Glasius, M, Lewis, D. and Seckinelgin, H. (2004) eds. Exploring Civil Society: Political and Cultural Contexts, London: Routledge;
  • Holmen, H. (2010) Snakes in Paradise: NGOs and the Aid Industry in Africa. Sterling VA: Kumarian;
  • Howell, J. and J. Pearce (2001) Civil Society and Development: A Critical Exploration. London: Lynne Rienner;
  • Lashaw, A., Vannier, C. and Sampson, S. (2017) eds. Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press;
  • Lewis, D. and Kanji, N. (2009) Non-Governmental Organisations and Development. London: Routledge;
  • Lewis, D. (2014) NGOs, Management and Development. London: Routledge.


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 37.6
Merit 54.1
Pass 7.1
Fail 1.2

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2022/23: 33

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

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

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills