Development Economics

Course content

This course examines challenges posed by poverty affecting a billion people in low-income countries across the world as targeted by the Sustainable Development Goals and taking an economic approach to conceptualizing those challenges, their causes and solutions. The course will provide the students with theoretical frameworks enabling them to understand, measure, analyse and discuss themes within the development economics literature focusing on poverty, its consequences and its alleviation. Key questions discussed during the course include: What is the state of progress towards relevant SDG’s? What is life like when living with under a dollar a day? Are famines unavoidable? Is child labour necessary? Is education and health key to lifting people out of poverty? Why are the poor forest-dependent and the forest-dependent poor? Does growth help the poorest of the poor? And, does aid matter for development?

The course includes the seven thematic topics (subject to change):

  • Poverty and inequality
  • Economic growth and development
  • Health and Education
  • Agricultural transformation  
  • Poverty and the environment
  • Aid
  • Poverty conflicts and corruption

BSc Programme in Environmental and Food Economics
BSc Programme in Natural Resources

Learning outcome

Towards the end of the course, students should be able to:


  • Define  development economic concepts and measures
  • Describe common economic characteristics and problems of life in low-income countries



  • Apply development economic concepts to explain the causes and the interconnection of problems faced by households and institutions in low-income countries
  • Read and interpret basic statistical findings of development economic studies
  • Develop identification strategies and model specifications to address development economic questions
  • Interpret the implication of development economic measures and models for development policy-related questions



  • Discuss and cooperate with fellow students to solve problems
  • Reflect on  and discuss the causes and consequences of economic problems faced by households and institutions in developing countries
  • Critically assess the research design, identification strategy, model specification and representativeness of empirical studies in development economics

Blended learning combining lectures, online quizzes, group assignments, and classroom discussions of student presentations. Each week, students will be asked to: (1) read the mandatory literature; (2) take an online quiz (multiple choice or similar) covering the topic of the week’s reading; (3) meet up in class to attend lectures, discuss the week's theme and reading material, and (4) participate in classroom exercises analysing scientific studies published in development economic journals. In addition, the course involves a number of written group assignments upon which the group/student will receive feedback.

The course curriculum is based on the book “Development Economics” by G. Roland, published by Pearson in collaboration with Routledge in 2016 (available from Academic Books at Frederiksberg campus). Additional material including scientific articles, book chapters and reports, will be supplied throughout the course. The curriculum will be described on Absalon prior to course start.

No prior academic qualifications are needed, yet a bit of knowledge of basic economic theory is an advantage, as well as some experience using MS Excel for basic data analysis.

An interest in global affairs, life in low-income countries and the alleviation of poverty is a plus.

Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Plenum discussion of group presentations on analysis of scientific literature. Feedback on draft group assignments, either written or orally as relevant. Students may also be asked to provide peer feedback on assignments based on agreed criteria. 

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

Assesment in accordance with the learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 133
  • Practical exercises
  • 21
  • Project work
  • 24
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 206