DEVELOP 709 : Theories of International Development


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines early and contemporary theories and paradigms of international development, including modernisation and dependency theory, neoliberalism, human development, post-development, and participatory development. Investigates the dominance of economic growth as a development target and how this has been contested. The course will enable students to critically analyse the processes and phenomena involved in what is called ‘development’.

Course Overview

The purpose of this course is to interrogate theories of development through a close reading of scholarly texts and discussion in class. The aim is to critically examine the major theoretical foundations in development studies from a contemporary perspective. The course starts with historical trajectories of development, beginning with colonisation and the central place given to economic growth by classical thinkers and in early development interventions. It turns a corner with the examination of Amartya Sen’s work in his seminal book Development as Freedom, and then focuses on contemporary theories of development, including theories of justice, access, participation, governmentality and post-development. The course concludes with reflections on development alternatives, including Indigenous worldviews and endogenous development approaches.

Course outcomes

By the end of this semester, students should know:
  1. The main theories of development
  2. Their critical evaluation from a contemporary perspective
  3. The importance of history, power and culture in development practices
By the end of this semester, students should be able to:
  1. Articulate the main theories of development in a critical manner
  2. Research and write a critical research essay by applying the class learnings to a particular country case study
  3. Be able to condense readings from a book into a critical book review

Course Requirements

Restriction: DEVELOP 700

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Master of Arts

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the most important theories in the field of international development and apply them to real-world cases (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 2.3, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.2)
  2. Critically evaluate the development philosophy behind a seminal book on development as freedom in the form of a book review (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2 and 6.3)
  3. Communicate your understanding of selected readings through a comparative critical analysis (Capability 1.3, 2.1, 2.3 and 4.1)
  4. Demonstrate your ability to use the theoretical learnings from the course to develop your own research essay on a contemporary development challenge (Capability 1.3, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2 and 6.2)
  5. Compare and contrast Western concepts of development with Indigenous and alternative views on development (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 2.3, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1, 6.1 and 6.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Comparative Critical Reading 20% Individual Coursework
Book Review 30% Individual Coursework
Essay Outline 10% Individual Coursework
Research Essay 40% Individual Coursework

Workload Expectations

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by the Course Director and will be published in course material on Canvas. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities  to complete components of the course.
Lectures and seminars will not be available as recordings.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

This course is not available for delivery to students studying remotely outside NZ in 2023.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Prescribed Texts:
Sen, Amartya (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

The assignment structure has been modified as a result of student feedback (more weight on the comparative critical reading; essay outline added as a stepping stone towards completion of research essay).

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Well-being always comes first
We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2022 08:08 a.m.