Issues in international development

Course content



Despite unprecedented global economic growth during the last two centuries, the vast majority of the world’s population lives in poverty without adequate money, food, water, health care, education, and/or security. Despite countless efforts to improve livelihoods throughout the world, levels of inequality across and within nations are increasing.  Between these lines of dismay, there are also strands of hope--success stories resulting from insightful domestic policies, visionary multi-lateral aid efforts, and revolutionary grassroots movements. 



This course introduces you to the history of the study of international development, and to the current debates and issues in the field. It explore and critically evaluate the basic assumptions underlying the major competing theories and visions of international development.


The course is divided into three parts. The first part is organized around the question:  What are the causes of underdevelopment?  This part will introduce the theoretical frameworks used to explain underdevelopment throughout the world.  The second part is organized around the question: What are the solutions to underdevelopment?  Here we will explore the practice of development since the 1950s by examining the different strategies that have been employed to alleviate underdevelopment in Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, and Africa.  Through a wide range of reading materials, movies, lectures, and in-depth discussion sections, you will be exposed to competing answers to these two questions. In the third part, we will look at global processes, including sessions on migration, gender, and security.  Using country-specific case studies, you will have the opportunity to apply the theoretical and practical frameworks learned in the first two parts to assess the successes and failures of real-life cases.  In addition to providing an introduction to international development, this course is designed to build your skills in analytical and critical thinking and debate.


Elective Course 

Course package (MSc 2015):
Knowledge, organisation and politics


The teaching in spring 2021 will be online until the 1. of April due to the Covid19 situation.

As soon as it is permitted and justifiable, it is up to the individual lecturer whether to transition to a blended format or wish to continue with full online teaching for the rest of the semester.

The individual lecturer will inform you of the above choice in the Absalon room for each course.

Courses with oral exams will be held online if the relevant restrictions have not been lifted at least four weeks before the individual exam. This will be notified in Absalon.

Courses with written exams will not experience any changes in relation to the normal exam form.


Learning outcome


By the end of the course, students have

Knowledge of

  • broad theories and policies of international development from 1950 to present

Skills to

  • analytically evaluate opposing theories and policies in development studies
  • analyze the barriers to, and opportunities for, inclusive global development
  • Literature search skills in consulting relevant library and internet resources


Competence to

  • apply theoretical framework and historical knowledge of practices to examine and analyse particular themes in development
  • display their critical understanding of key issues through the development of a succinct writing style (for essays), and the ability to present complex arguments in class discussions; and use their knowledge as a basis for further study or pursuing a career in international development and international affairs.


Due to the covid19 situation the teaching in autumn semester 2020 is as follows:

• The teaching are on campus with rotating groups
• The teaching are available online too.

Always remember to check Absalon for the latest updates.


Teaching will take the form of two-hour lecture and two-hour seminar each week. Students are required to make presentations at the seminars.

Syllabus will be available in Absalon before the classes begins. Syllabus also available upon request.

Open to all students. There are no prerequisites, other than a keen interest in the global south

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback on research proposal. To provide you with an opportunity to develop the topic identified in your initial research proposal into a comprehensive, academic paper.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 138
  • Exam
  • 40
  • English
  • 206