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MPhil Module Choices

*The papers below are confirmed papers for 2018-19 study, incoming students will be made aware of any changes to papers before they commence the MPhil*


Selecting Modules for the MPhil Programme

We currently offer fourteen modules, or 'papers' in our MPhil Programme. Out of the four full papers you are required to choose for the MPhil, two must be core papers from the list below. The other two can either be a further selection of core papers, optional papers, or half papers (two half papers make up one full paper) e.g. Paper 1, Paper 3, Paper 15, Paper 900 and Paper 340. 

There is also a selection of 'borrowed' papers from other Centres or Departments which you may choose in place of the optional papers we offer. Permission must be granted prior to confirmation of selection, and some papers may be subject to prerequisites.

MPhil Core Papers 


Paper 1: Development Economics

Co-ordinator: Dr Ha-Joon Chang

This paper focuses on: the goals and measurement of development; different approaches to development economics; the international economy, globalisation and developing countries; theories of the market and the state; theories of growth, structural change, and technical progress; industrialisation and trade strategies; poverty and income distribution; finance and corporate governance; and the development experiences of different regions.

Assessment is by means of one 4000-word essay and one two-hour examination.

Indicative reading:

  • Chang, H.-J., Kicking away the ladder: development strategy in historical perspective, Anthem Press, 2002.
  • Chang, H.-J., (ed.), Rethinking development economics, Anthem Press, 2003.
  • Kozul-Wright, R. & Rayment, P., The Resistible Rise of Market Fundamentalism, Zed Press, 2007.
  • Stiglitz, J.E., Making Globlization Work, Allen Lane, 2006.
  • Wolf, M., Why Globalization Works, Yale University Press, 2004.


Paper 2: Institutions and Development

Co-ordinator: Dr Shailaja Fennell

This paper explores the role of institutions in human development. The course is devised using a wide canvas with the intention of exploring the manner in which institutions have been conceptualised and analysed across individual disciplines in the social sciences. The lecture course brings together theoretical perspectives alongside both historical and current evidence on the interrelations between institutional structures and social and economic actions. The course undertakes an institutional analysis drawing on concepts and frameworks provided by the disciplines of economics, sociology, political science, law and anthropology. The lectures examine the institutions of the state, notably the role of the bureaucracy and judiciary; societal institutions such as NGOs and social groups, customary norms such as culture and caste that affect human development. Individual lectures explore institutions such as the market, firm and the state, examine the perspectives of different academic schools such as New Institutional Economics, Marxism, Human Development and Capability theory on institutional changes, and give due consideration to how key development concerns such as poverty, environment and education can be examined through an institutional lens.

Assessment is by means of one 4000-word essay and one two-hour examination.

Indicative reading:

  • Chang, H.-J., Kicking away the ladder: development strategy in historical perspective, Anthem Press, 2002.
  • Fennell, S. 2009. Rules, Rubrics and Riches: the interrelationship between the legal reform and international development. Routledge.
  • Kabeer, N., Reversed realities: gender hierarchies in development thought, Verso, 1994.
  • North, D.C., Institutions, institutional change and economic performance, Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • World Development Report 2002, Building institutions for markets, World Bank/Oxford University Press, 2001, (


Paper 3: Sociology and Politics of Development

Co-ordinator: Dr Maha Abdelrahman and Dr Graham Denyer Willis

This paper deals with the configuration, practice and politics of power, broadly defined. It explores the social and political contexts of development theory, the kinds of empirical problems that tend to matter for policy and efforts to ‘practice development’. The paper move critically towards a central objective to fruitfully bringing together canonical debates about the dilemmas of development, with critical assessment of the assumptions of who should benefit –and who might not- from development, broadly defined.

Assessment is by means of one 4000-word essay and one two-hour examination.

Indicative reading:

  • Bayat, A., Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn, Stanford University Press, 2007.
  • Brohman, J., Popular Development: Rethinking the Theory and Practice of Development, Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
  • Chandhoke, Neera, State and Civil Society: Explorations in Political Theory, 1995.
  • Crush, J., Power of development, Routledge, 1995
  • Harrison, D. The sociology of modernization and development, Routledge, 1991.
  • Escobar, A., Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the Third World, Pluto, 1995.
  • Jolly, R., UN Contributions to Development Thinking and Practice. Indiana University Press, 2004.
  • Hoogvelt, A. Globalization and the Postcolonial World: The New Political Economy of Development, John Hopkins University Press, 2001.
  • Kabeer, N., Reversed realities: gender hierarchies in development thought, Verso, 1994.
  • Keane, J., Global civil society, Cambridge University Press, 2003
  • Keck, M. and Sikkink, K., Activists beyond borders: advocacy networks in international politics. Ithaca NY and London: Cornel University Press, 1998.
  • Lieten, K and Ben White (eds), Child Labour: Policy Options. Amsterdam: Askant, 2001.
  • Mamdani, M., Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism Princeton University Press, 1996.
  • Richard, P. Unholy Trinity: the IMF, World Bank and WTO, Zed Books, 2003.
  • Roberts, T.J. and Hite, A., eds. From modernization to globalization: perspectives on development and change, Blackwell, 1999.
  • Smith, B.C., Good Governance and Development, Palgrave, 2007. Wetherly, P.,Marxism and the State: An Analytical Approach, Palgrave, 2005.


Paper 4: Globalisation and Development

Co-ordinator: Professor Peter Nolan

This paper contains three sections. Section 1 examines the revolution in the nature of the large firm since the 1970s and the role that large firms have played in the globalisation process. Section 2 examines the multiple contradictions that have emerged during the recent era of globalisation, including the environment, inequality, finance, and the concentration of business power. Section 3 examines the prospects for global regulation in the light of the impact of globalisation upon the West, the Muslim world and East Asia.

Assessment is by means of one 4000-word essay and one two-hour examination.

Indicative reading:

  • Peter Dicken, Global Shift, 7th edition, London, Guilford Press, 2015
  • Peter Nolan, China at the Crossroads, Cambridge, Polity, 2004
  • Charles Tripp, Islam and the Moral Economy, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2006
  • Martin Wolf, Why Globalisation Works, London, Yale UP, 2004



MPhil Optional Papers

Although there may be some variation from year to year, the following have been offered in recent years or will be offered in 2017-2018:

Full Papers

Half Papers

All half papers must be taken with another half paper to make the equivelent of one full paper. Some papers may be subject to prerequisites.




One full optional paper may be replaced with a 12000-word dissertation. For more information, click here.



Paper 13: Financial Organisation and Economic Growth

Co-ordinator: Mr Michael Kuczynski

Financing is an everyday ingredient in household life, in business activity, and in social choice or state action. Financing is also a key ingredient in open-economy national economic activity (see for example Ethiopia, Japan, or Venezuela today) How do financial institutions interact within those four components of economic life (households, business, state, rest-of-world)? How do the inescapable accounting links between those four components affect the interaction? Through what channels does economic activity drive finance and through what channels does finance drive economic activity?

Key ingredients

  • Keynes as an outlook on economic and financial analysis.
  • Financial institutions (money, banks, markets) and how they compete. Money-ness  
  • How financial competition constrains (or not) households, firms, states, centralized or decentralized  
  • How financing evolves with economic growth
  • The relationship between labour income, output pricing, resource prices, and financial returns
  • How financial activity is related to outcomes in the distribution of income and wealth
  • How financial activity is related to changes in technology and productivity
  • Meaning and elusiveness of optimality in growth, assets, and debt


  • A mixture of elementary economics with open-economy historical illustration
  • Neither familiarity with modern finance theory nor with econometrics are required
  • Examples focus on: resource-riches versus resource-scarcity, US versus Japan versus China versus Vietnam, economic activity under bank-based as opposed to market-based financial systems, episodes of rapid economic growth (European post World War II recovery, Mexico and Brazil under import-substitution, India and East Asia, Ethiopia) episodes of crisis, financial organization and slow growth. 

This paper is assessed by means of one 4000-word essay.

Indicative reading:

  • Levine, R., 'Financial development and economic growth: views and agenda', Journal of Economic Literature 2, 1997, pp. 688-726.
  • Stiglitz, J., 'Financial markets and development', Oxford Review of Economic Policy 5, 1989, pp. 55-68.
  • World Bank, World Bank Development Report, 1989.


Paper 14: Happiness, Justice, Freedom and Capabilities: a Philosophical Exploration

Co-ordinator: Dr Gay Meeks

This (half) paper focusses on rival conceptions of human well-being and debates about what the goal of development should be. It used to be taken for granted that the key development criterion was economic growth.  Nowadays that presumption is increasingly challenged but without agreement on what should be put in its place. Gains in a country’s material resources bring potential for reducing poverty - but may not be so directed and won’t necessarily spell increased happiness. For some, increasing happiness or reducing misery is the ultimate aim, in the spirit of Bentham and Mill - an approach now gaining considerable international traction.  However, others hold that concentrating on overall happiness may lead to neglect of individual rights, suggesting with Rawls a greater priority for considerations of justice.  Some say that insufficient account is being taken of particular disadvantage and diversity of need: in keeping with Aristotle’s emphasis on human flourishing, the capability approach seeks to address this: it too has a burgeoning following. In Sen’s hands this approach views development “as freedom” – in a sense of freedom built on agency and substantive opportunity. The course will discuss the reasoning behind these alternative lines of thought and invite you to weigh up their pros and cons, to assess whether possible problems in them might be overcome, and to consider if they may be more compatible than at first appears.  There will also be some investigation along the way of concepts of equality, fairness, affirmative action, self-interest, effective altruism, objectivity, uncertainty and bounded or twisted rationality.  Essay topics are designed to give scope to create your own line of argument on one of the puzzles we will encounter in studying short extracts from the writings of Mill, Layard, Singer, Glover, Sandel, Williams, Nozick, Rawls, Friedman, Tawney, Hume, Kahneman, Keynes and – most often - Sen.  No previous knowledge of philosophy is required.

This paper is assessed by means of one 4000-word essay.

Indicative reading:

  • Layard, R., Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, Allen Lane, 2005 [Penguin, 2006 and revised edition, 2011], Ch. 8
  • Singer, P., The Life You Can Save, Random House, 2009
  • Sandel, M , 'Justice:: What's the Right Thing to do?', Allen Lane, 2009 – or see his justice course at where you might try lecture 1 or 2 as a taster
  • Friedman,M. and Friedman, R.D., Free to Choose: a Personal Statement, Pelican, 1980, Ch.5
  • Sen, A.K., Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press, 1999 [paperback edition, 2001], esp. Chs. 1-3
  • Sen, A.K,  The Idea of Justice, 2009, Allen Lane [Penguin paperback edition, 2010]
  • Meeks, Gay, ‘On Sen on the capability of capabilities: the evolution of an enterprise’, forthcoming in Comim, F., Anand,P. and Fennell, S., New Frontiers of the Capability Approach [draft available in SSRN eLibrary (under author name Jaqueline Meeks)]



Paper 15: Education and Human Development 

Co-ordinator: Dr Flavio ComimDr Tadashi Hirai and Dr Shailaja Fennell

Education is one of the key dimensions of Human Development. But grasping its full meaning and reach is not an easy task. Education is an interdisciplinary field, ranging from philosophy of education and pedagogy to school management and impact evaluation of specific policy interventions. Within this context, the objective of this paper is to delve into key contemporary education issues relevant to human development. It builds on the education lectures offered within Paper 2. It starts with some foundational issues about the link between education and human capital theory and education and economic growth contrasting it with the literature on education and emotions. It applies important policy lessons from the Capability Approach to current debates on inclusive education, empowerment and quality of education.

Assessment is by means of two essay (5,000 words)

Indicative reading:

  • Biggeri, M., J. Ballet and F. Comim (eds.) (2011) Children and the Capability Approach. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Cunha, F and J. Heckman (2007) "The Technology of Skill Formation" American Economic Review, 97(2): 31-47.
  • Fennell, S. and M. Arnot (eds.) (2009) Gender Education and Equality in a Global Context: conceptual frameworks and policy contexts. London: Routledge.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2010) Not for Profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2015) Political Emotions: why love matters for justice. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard Unversity Press.
  • Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Walker, M. and E. Unterhalter (2007) Amartya Sen's Capability Approach and Social Justice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.



Paper 30: Justice and Development

Co-ordinator: Professor Barry Rider

This paper seeks to address, from a comparative perspective, a number of key issues relating to justice in the broad context of development. The study of these issues is primarily from the standpoint of those concerned with legal justice, but it properly comprehends relevant moral, social, economic and political considerations. It also has regard to the institutions and instrumentalities of justice and in particular the deliverability of justice in developing and transition economies. The paper focuses on the following broad areas: justice as a concept; the institutions of justice; specific legal issues in development such as stability, security, integrity, human rights and the environment; stability in financial systems; governance and transparency; the control of corruption; serious crime, and other destabilising factors including terrorism. Wider issues such as the impact of globalisation and technology are addressed in the context of these specific areas of concern. While the context is legal, no prior knowledge of law or its institutions is required or expected.

Assessment is by means of two 5000-word essays.

Indicative reading:

  • Allan, T.R.S., Law, liberty, and justice, Clarendon Press, 1993.
  • Clayton, M. and Williams, A., Social justice, Blackwell, 2004.
  • Eatwell, J., and Taylor, L., Global finance at risk, Polity Press, 2000.
  • Hinterseer, K., Criminal finance, Kluwer, 2002.
  • King, R and Kendall, G., The state, democracy and globalisation, Palgrave, 2004.
  • McLeod, I., Legal theory, Palgrave, 2003.



Paper 43: Political Economy of Development in Africa

Co-ordinator: Dr Helena Perez Nino and Dr Jon Phillips

This Paper examines the history and trajectory of development in Africa from a political economy perspective. Students will be introduced to theories of how African societies have been transformed in the process of capitalist expansion and will develop skills to analyse the development challenges of today. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on sub-Saharan Africa, the paper emphasises the historical roots of social and political institutions such as state, market and society, as well as covering periods of political turmoil, state formation and economic development. Throughout the Paper, students will be encouraged to explore how knowledge about African development is constructed and assess the possible implications for how development is understood.

The Paper covers a range of approaches to studying the political economy of African development, introducing debates on production and exchange in a range of African societies; the changing relationship between Africa economies and global markets; and the relations between social groups, states and markets. Individual sessions will explore the history and contemporary regimes of natural resource management; the development of agriculture and industrial sectors and their shaping of economic structures; the world of work, mobility and social movements; and the conceptualization and governance of poverty, inequality, violent conflict and climate change.

Assessment is by means of two 5000-word essays.

 Indicative readings:

  • Arrighi, G., 2002 The African crisis: world systemic and regional aspects. New Left Review 15:5-36.
  • Boone, C., 2014. Property and political order in Africa: Land rights and the structure of politics. Cambridge University Press.
  • Carmody, D.P., 2013. The rise of the BRICS in Africa: The geopolitics of South-South relations. Zed Books.
  • Cooper, F., 2002. Africa since 1940: the past of the present. Cambridge University Press.
  • Freund, B., 2016. The making of contemporary Africa: the development of African society since 1800. Macmillan International.
  • Mamdani, M., 2018. Citizen and subject: Contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism. Princeton University Press.
  • Ndulu, B.J., Azam, J.P., O'Connell, S.A., Bates, R.H., Fosu, A.K. and Nijinkeu, D. eds., 2008. The political economy of economic growth in Africa, 1960-2000: An Analytic Survey. Cambridge University Press.
  • Padayachee, V. ed., 2010. The Political Economy of Africa. Routledge.
  • Young, C., 2012. The postcolonial state in Africa: Fifty years of independence, 1960–2010. University of Wisconsin Press.



Paper 340: Gender and Development

Co-ordinator: Dr Maryam Tanwir and Dr Nitya Khemka

The paper will explore the real world contexts of gender relations between women and men who occupy the lowest possible positions in a class hierarchy in developing societies. It will map the dynamics of gender relations against the backdrop of the realities of home and field. Using a multidisciplinary approach unique to the field of development studies, it will examine the gendered terrain of human nature.  Men and women both create and maintain society and contribute to development. They have separate and distinct (yet interdependent) roles, and they profit and suffer from the development trajectories disproportionately.  The paper will examine how development impacts men and women (at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid) in different ways.

 A survey of the extant literature on gender and organizations reveals that the focus is invariably on women, with gender issues being examined primarily through the lens of feminist theory. This course is unique as it views ‘gender’ as an issue that is relevant to both men as well as women and hence, will focus its analysis on men and women together. 

This paper will investigate if gendered behaviour can be explained by our biological and evolutionary roots. It will examine the role of gender on aggression, warfare and terrorism. It will retrace how development has impacted women and men from a historical, evolutionary, economic, political, legal, cultural and religious perspective. The paper will examine gender relations underpinning the organisation of informal networks in developing societies. It will aim to interrogate current power deficits that underpin gender relations and investigate their origin.

The main thrust of the course will be to argue that gender relations are core to ideas of development policy and implementation and that studying development through a gender lens is critical to understanding the dynamics at play in developing countries. The course aims to equip students with the theoretical and analytical skills required to understand gender issues in policymaking and development practice. 

The paper will be jointly run by Dr Tanwir and Dr Khemka who will hold weekly reading sessions with the class.

Assessment is by means of one 5000-word essay and participation in a bi monthly research seminar.

Indicative reading:

  • Fukuyama, Francis (2011) The Origins of Political Order: From Prehumen Times to the French Revolution (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Potts, M and Hayden, T (2008) Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books)
  • Wilson, Edward (1978) On Human Nature (Harvard University Press)
  • Fukuyama, Francis (1998) "Women and the Evolution of World Politics," Foreign Affairs 77 no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1998).
  • Kabeer, N (1994) Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought (Verso, 1994)
  • Moser, C (1993) Gender Planning and Development: theory, practice and training (Routledge)
  • Nalini Visvanathan et al. (eds.) (1997) Women, Gender and Development Reader (Zed Books)

Paper 400: Development of Central Asia and the Caucasus

Co-ordinator: Dr Siddharth S. Saxena

Silk Road region has both contemporary and historical relevance when it comes to understanding development in Asia and Eurasia. This paper addresses political, economic, cultural and industrial development in Central Asia, the Caucasus and also broadly in the connected realms of Eurasia. Standard reading of economic and political theories tend be unsatisfactory in engaging with this vast and dynamic geography. Central Asia has a mystical resonance in the world imagination carved by the writings of the Orientalists and the biographers of the Great Game. Following that, the Soviet period, in contrast to a millennia old ‘globalised’ connectivity of the region, signalled a substantial shift in political and economic systems and focused more on internal development. Region also became part of a larger structure of the apparatus of the Cold War. Relatively recent dissolution of the Soviet Union and emergence of sovereign Central Asian and Caucasus nation-states has again pushed the re-set button. The new resurgence has given rise to high rates of growth in some of the countries, partly fed by discovery of the very large reserves of oil, natural gas and rare-earth metals, together with blooming agricultural production, manufacturing and transport hubs across all countries point to new development configurations in the 21st century. However some of the countries drastically lag behind. Also of interest is how Central Asia and Eurasia is responding to the current changes in global political order and resultant economic implications. 

Assessment is by means of two 5,000 word essays.

Indicative Reading: 

Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective (School of American Research Advanced Seminars) Robert L. Canfield (Editor), Cambridge University Press (2002)

E. Allworth, ed., Central Asia: One Hundred Twenty Years of Russian Rule, rev. ed. (Durham, NC: Duke U. Press, 1989)

Thomas Barfield, The Perilious Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China (1989)

V.V. Barthold and T. Minorsky, Four Studies on the History of Central Asia (1958)

Sally Cummings, Understanding Central Asia: Politics and Contested Transformations (Routledge 2012)

Nicola Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002

Renee Grousset, The Empires of the Steppe: A History of Central Asia (1970)



Paper 900: International Humanitarianism and Development

Co-ordinator: Professor Raymond Apthorpe 

This (half) paper probes and ponders the broad outlines of moral and material provision by inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for humanitarian assistance and protection across borders. Despite all the controversies and contradictions that come with international humanitarian intervention and aid, and regardless of whether this is undertaken by civil or military means (or both), for those in need of help one thing is clear: it is the consequences of compassion that rule, not any grand narrative or some inner meaning. Humanitarian is what humanitarian does.

Full course details and reading list is available on Moodle.

Assessment is by means of one 5,000-word essay.

Indicative reading:

  • Agier, M.  (2016, English trans. by D. Fernbach),  Borderlands: towards an anthropology of the cosmological condition.
  • Allen, L. (2013), The rise and fall of human rights: cynicism and politics in occupied Palestine.
  • ALNAP (2016), The state of the world humanitarian system in 2016 [and other annual or biannual world reports, to be compared with those compiled by other agencies – Development Alternatives included and of course the ICRC and various UN and a number of independent agencies]
  • ALNAP (2016), Evaluation of humanitarian action.
  • Autesserre, S. (2014), Peaceland: conflict resolution and the everyday politics of international intervention.
  • Cramer, C. (2006), Civil war is not a stupid thing: accounting for violence in developing countries.
  • De Waal, A. (1997), Famine crimes: politics and the disaster relief industry in Africa.
  • De Waal, A. (ed.) (2015), Advocacy in conflict: critical perspectives on transnational activism.
  • Donini, A. et al (eds.) (2004), Nation-building unravelled: peace and justice in Afghanistan
  • Donini, A. (ed.) (2012), The golden fleece: manipulation and independence in humanitarian action.
  • Everill, B and Kaplan, J. (2013), The history and practice of humanitarian intervention and aid in Africa.
  • Fry, G. and Kabutaulaka, T. T. (eds.) (2008), Intervention and statebuilding in the Pacific: the legitimacy of ‘cooperative intervention’.
  • Fukui, K. and Markakis, J. (eds.) (1994), Ethnicity and conflict in the Horn of Africa.
  • Krause, M. (2014), The good project: humanitarian relief NGOs and the fragmentation of reason.
  • Kent, G. (2006), Framing war and genocide: British policy and news media reaction to the war in Bosnia.
  • Mamdani, M. (2009), Saviors and survivors: Darfur, politics and the war on terror.
  • Marriage, Z. (1988), Not breaking the rules, not playing the game: international assistance to countries at war.
  • O’Neill, O. (1986), Faces of hunger: an essay on poverty, justice and development.
  • Pottier, J. (2002), Re-imagining Rwanda: conflict, survival and disinformation in the late twentieth century.
  • Redfield, P. (2013), Life in crisis: the ethical journey of doctors without borders.
  • Simpson, E. (2013), The political biography of an earthquake: aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat, India
  • Wood, A., Apthorpe, R., Borton, J, eds. (2001) Evaluating international humanitarian action: reflections from practitioners (of which later first a French, then a Spanish, edition was published). 


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Former Development Studies PhD student releases monograph

Aug 22, 2019

Former Development Studies PhD student, Madleina Daehnhardt's monograph, "Migration, Development and Social Change in the Himalayas" has been released with Routledge in August 2019.

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