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Centre of Development Studies


Selecting Papers for the MPhil Programme 2022/2023

Out of the four full papers you are required to choose for the MPhil, at least two must be core papers from the list below.

You will choose the other two papers from the remaining core papers and/or the optional papers (two half papers make up one full paper).

Examples of paper choices selection:

  • Two core papers, one optional full paper, two optional half papers
  • Two core papers, two optional full papers
  • Three core papers, two optional half papers

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. These borrowed papers vary year by year. The Centre Administrator will inform students of which papers they are able to borrow near the start of Michaelmas Term. Permission must be granted prior to confirmation of selection, and some papers may be subject to prerequisites.

MPhil Core Papers (taught Michaelmas and Lent Terms)

  • Paper 1, Development economics
  • Paper 2, Institutions and development
  • Paper 3, Sociology and politics of development

MPhil Optional Papers

Although there may be some variation from year to year, we are currently planning to offer the following papers in 2022-2023.

Full Papers (taught Michaelmas and Lent Terms)

  • Dissertation
  • Paper 15: Human Development and Education
  • Paper 30: Justice and Development
  • Paper 400: The Development of Central Asia and Caucasus

Half Papers (two half papers make one full paper)

Michaelmas Term

  • Paper 10: Development: Perspectives and Debates (Michaelmas Term)
  • Paper 270: Protests, Social Movements and Development (Michaelmas Term)
  • Paper 390: Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Environmentalism (Michaelmas Term)

Lent Term

  • Paper 250: Political Economy of Development in Africa (Lent Term)
  • Paper 260: Food, Technology and Development (Lent Term)
  • Paper 290: Civil Conflict, Political Violence and Development (Lent Term)

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

As paper outlines are updated, they will be posted below and should all be available near the beginning of September, the month before the academic year begins. They will also appear in the handbook, which will be sent to all incoming students early-mid September.

(Core) Paper 1: Development Economics

Co-ordinator:  Dr Jostein Hauge

Supported by Dr Florian Schaefer and Dr Guendalina Anzolin

Updated for 22/23: Development economics is characterised by diversity in many senses. First of all, it is diverse in terms of the subject matter. Anything from household decisions regarding fertility and labour allocation to climate change and the global financial architecture can be a subject of research in development economics. It is also diverse in terms of the level of abstraction in discussion. Someone who works on abstract theories of growth has as much legitimate claim to be a “development economist” as someone who works on the political economy of industrial policy, say, in Ethiopia, or someone who tries to find out exactly why and how workers in, say, Nepal, go and work in Qatar or South Korea. Moreover, development economics is diverse in its methodology and theoretical approach, as the field has always included people with differing views of the world — Neo-classicists, Marxists, Structuralists, Institutionalists, Schumpeterians, and so on. And since the subject is directly concerned with the real world, and a very unstable and rapidly changing part of it at that, new issues are constantly coming up. Global value chains, the rise of China, digitalization, and ecological breakdown are some of the issues that have become prominent during the last decade or so. Old topics have also come back into fashion – inequality, agrarian change, and development banking are a few such examples.

Reflecting the nature of the subject, this paper covers a wide range of issues and is taught by three lecturers with different expertise. The overarching themes of the paper include: the sources and drivers of economic growth, development, and technological change; global economic trends and shifts in the 21st century (e.g., ecological breakdown, financialization, digitalization, global value chains, the rise of China) and their relation to development; the role of the state, markets, and institutions in development; and neoliberalism, inequality, and labour regimes. Throughout, topics are contextualised both historically and geographically. The teaching takes place in the following way:

  • Core lectures: the paper provides a set of 16 two-hour core lectures, giving an introduction to many of the major issues in development economics. Three lecturers with diverse expertise are involved in these lectures.
  • Discussion classes: core lectures are accompanied by small-group discussion classes in which the students will discuss themes covered in the lectures.

Assessment is by means of one 3,000 word essay for Michaelmas Term and one 5,000 word essay for Lent Term.

Indicative reading for Week 1

Abramovitz, M. (1989). Thinking about growth: And other essays on economic growth and welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Read Chapter 1.

Chang, H-J. (2014). Economics: The User’s Guide. London: Pelican Books. Read Chapters 1, 4 and 7.

Kvangraven, I.H. (2021). Beyond the stereotype: Restating the relevance of the dependency research programme. Development and Change, 52(1): 76-112.

Thirlwall, A. P. (1989). Growth and development: with special reference to developing economies. New York: Springer Publishing. Read the introduction.


(Core) Paper 2: Institutions and Development

Co-ordinator: Dr Shailaja Fennell

Supported by Dr Rekha Bhangaonkar

Updated for 2022/2023: This paper explores the role of institutions as formal and informal rules in social, economic and environmental aspects of development at multiple scales. It places people at the centre of development and examines the relationship between the individual and collective; private and public; and economic exchange and political settlement. Lectures are structured around core themes of historical change, and to examine the role of the state and markets using the key concepts of transaction and transition costs in the Michaelmas term. In the Lent term, lectures are structured around core themes of institutional change, and will examine the role of local communities and of international organisations in delivering key aspects of development: employment, technology, health, environment, and using the important concepts of institutional design and global agendas.

Assessment is by means of one 3,000 word essay for Michaelmas Term and one 5,000 word essay for Lent Term.

Indicative reading:

  • North, D.C., 1990. Institutions, institutional change & economic performance, CUP.
  • Polanyi, K, (1944) 2001, The Great Transformation, The Political and Economic Origins of our time, Beacon        press, Boston, 2001 edition
  • Ostrom, E., 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge     University Press.
  • Chambers, R., 1997. Whose Reality Counts: Putting the Last First. Practical Action.
  • Hickey, S., Sen, K. and Bukenya, B. (eds.) (2014). The Politics of Inclusive Development: Interrogating the Evidence. Oxford University Press
  • Fennell, S. 2010. Rules, Rubrics and Riches: the interrelationship between the legal reform and international development, Routledge.
  • World Development Report, 2019. The Changing Nature of Work
  • World Development Report, 2016. Digital Dividends.
(Core) Paper 3: Sociology and Politics of Development

Co-ordinator: Dr Joeva Rock 

Updated for 2022/23:

This paper is currently being updated. We are sharing last year's outline to give you an idea of what the paper focuses on and what some of the topics you can expect to cover. We will upload the new outline as soon as possible.

This paper deals with the configuration, practice and politics of power, broadly defined. It explore the social and political contexts of development theory and praxis, the kinds of empirical problems that tend to matter for policy and the efforts to 'practice development'. It interrogates the main actors, institutions and ideas that shape thinking about and doing of development. The paper critically questions the underlying assumptions of what development is, who should benefit, and who is being excluded from development, broadly defined. The paper also critically engages with questions about the future of Development as an academic discipline, as a historical project and as a set of policy interventions.

Assessment is by means of one 3,000 word essay for Michaelmas Term and one 5,000 word essay for Lent Term.

Indicative Reading:

  • Kothari, U. (ed) (2019) A Radical History of Development Studies:  Individuals, Institutions and Ideologies. London: Zed Books.
  • Bernstein, H (2006) Studying development/development studies. African Studies, (65):1, 45-62.
  • Hart, G. (2001) Development critiques in the 1990s: cul de sac and promising paths. Progress in Human Geography, (25)4:649-658.
(Optional Full) Dissertation

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

(Optional Full) Paper 15: Human Development and Education

Co-ordinators: Dr Tadashi Hirai, Dr Rekha Bhangaonkar and Prof Shailaja Fennell

Updated for 2022/2023: Education is one of the key dimensions of human development, but grasping its full meaning and scope is not an easy task. Like development, education is studied in multiple disciplines. In this paper, we will be examining the fields related to history, politics, philosophy and economics. Within this context, this paper covers key issues in the ensuing nexus between education and human development. It addresses some fundamental issues about the implications of the economic growth model and the human capital theory to education, contrasting them with the literature on education and emotions in the realm of human development. It also applies important policy lessons learned for current debates such as inclusive education, empowerment, education systems and quality of education. These issues highlight the potentials of education towards more equitable, harmonious and sustainable societies

Assessment is by means of two 4,000 word essays.

Indicative reading:

  • Fennell, S. and M. Arnot. (eds.) (2009) Gender education and equality in a global context: Conceptual frameworks and policy contexts. London: Routledge.
  •   Freire, P. (2018) Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Khôi, L. T. (1976) ‘Aid to education—co-operation or domination?’ Prospects: Quarterly Review of Education, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 583-594.
  • McCowan, T. and E. Unterhalter. (eds.) (2015) Education and international development. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Mkandawire, T. (2011) ‘Running while others walk: Knowledge and the challenge of Africa's development.’ Africa Development, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 1-36.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2010) Not for profit: Why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  •   Sen, A. (1999) Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  •   UNDP. (2020) Human development report. The next frontier: Human development and the Anthropocene.


(Optional Full) Paper 30: Justice and Development

Co-ordinator: Professor Barry Rider

Updated for 2022/2023: The paper examines what justice means in the context of sustainable development from a legal perspective. However, no knowledge or experience in the law is necessary for this course. After exploring concepts such as the rule of law, access to justice and legitimacy, the course focuses on a number of topics that are in practical terms important for maintaining sustainable development. These include, for example, the efficacy of legal institutions in developing and particularly smaller states, the threat to stability presented by corruption, economic and organised crime and terrorism, the impact (both positive and negative) on institutions and economies of measures adopted (internationally and domestically) to address these and other threats; governance and corporate social responsibility in the context of multinational enterprises; environmental protection; human rights and the role of international law; exploitation and slavery in the modern world and the practicalities of fashioning and implementing systems that seek to promote and protect integrity and stability.

Assessment is by means of two 4,000-word essays.

Indicative reading:

  • Alston P., ed., Peoples' rights, 2001, Oxford University Press, chs 1, 6.
  • Clayton, M. and Williams A., Social justice, Blackwell, 2004, chs 3, 4, 5 and 12.
  • Cockcroft L., Global Corruption, Money, Power and Ethics in the modern world, IB Tauris, 2012
  • Cohen J., Globalization and Sovereignty, rethinking legality, legitimacy and constitutionality, Cambridge, 2012
  • Dworkin R., Law’s Empire, Hart, 1998
  • Eatwell J. and Taylor, L., Global finance at risk: the case for international regulation, Polity Press, 2000, chs 1, 4, 5 and 6.
  • Fisman R. and Miguel E., Economic Gangsters, Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations, (2008) Princeton
  • Glenny, M., McMafia - seriously organised crime , Vintage, 2009
  • King R. and Kendall G., The state, democracy and globalization, Palgrave, 2004, chs 2, 3, 4, 6 &
  • 7.

  • Kingley D., Civilising Globalisation, Human Rights and the Global Economy, 2010, Cambridge University Press
  • Kerusauskaite, I., Anti-Corruption in International Development, Routledge, 2018, chapters 2, 3 and 5.
  • Pirie F., The Rule of Laws, Profile Books, 2021
  • Rider B. (ed), International Financial Crime, Edward Elgar, 2016
  • Rider B (ed) Economic Crime and Development, Edward Elgar, 2022/3
  • Rider B et al, Market Abuse and Insider Trading (4th ed, 2022) Bloomsbury
  • Rider B (ed) Financial Crime - Research Agenda, Edward Elgar, 2022
  • Sen A., The Idea of Justice, 2010, Penguin, Pts 1 and 3
  • Shaxson N., Treasure Islands, Tax havens and the men who stole the world, Vintage, 2012
  • Von Arnauld A., Cambridge Handbook of New Human Rights, CUP, 2020.
  • Stern J. and Berger JM., ISIS – The State of Terror, Collins, 2015
  • Stiglitz J., Making Globalisation Work, 2007, Penguin
  • Sharman J.C.,The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management, Cornell University Press 2017
  • Thomas-James D., Offshore Financial Centres and the Law - suspect wealth in British Overseas Territories, Routledge, 202, Chs 2,3 and 7
(Optional Full) Paper 400: Development of Central Asia and the Caucasus

Co-ordinator: Dr Siddharth S. Saxena

Updated for 2022/2023: The 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 to 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. The region also became part of a larger structure of the apparatus of the Cold War. The relatively recent dissolution of the Soviet Union and the 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 booming agricultural production, manufacturing and transport hubs across all countries pointing 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 the global political order and the resultant economic implications. 

The content of the paper is developed as the term proceeds, shaped around the interests of each cohort. Weekly 2-hour lectures are complemented by weekly 2-hour seminars delivered by guest academics and researchers, ambassadors, industry specialists, or representatives of civil society or NGOs with experience in the region.

No previous knowledge of the Central Asia/Eurasia region is necessary to take this option.

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

Indicative Reading: 

  • Allworth, E., ed., Central Asia: One Hundred Twenty Years of Russian Rule, rev. ed. (Durham, NC: Duke U. Press, 1989)
  • Barfield, T., The Perilious Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China. (Basil Blackwell 1989) 
  • Barthold, V.V., and Minorsky, T., Four Studies on the History of Central Asia. ( Brill 1958) 
  • Canfield, R., Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective. (Cambridge University Press 2002)  
  • Cummings, S., Understanding Central Asia: Politics and Contested Transformations (Routledge 2012)
  • Di Cosmo, N., Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History. (Cambridge University Press2002)
  • Dadabaev, T., Transcontinental Silk Road Strategies: Comparing China, Japan and South Korea in Uzbekistan. (Routledge 2019)
  • Grousset, R., The Empires of the Steppe: A History of Central Asia. (Rutgers University Press 1970
  • Kalra, P., The Silk Road and the Political Economy of the Mongol Empire / Prajakti Kalra. (Routledge Studies on the Chinese Economy. 2018)
  • Adeeb, K., Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia. (U of California Press 2007).
  • Khazanov, A.M., Wink, A., International Institute of Administrative Sciences. Nomads in the Sedentary World. (Curzon, 2001)
  • Neumann, I.B., and Wigen, E., The Steppe Tradition in International Relations: Russians, Turks and European State-building 4000 BCE-2018 CE. (Cambridge University Press 2018)
  • Pomfret, R., "The Central Asian Economies in the Twenty-First Century: Paving a New Silk Road," (Princeton University Press 2019)
  • Soucek, S., A History of Inner Asia. (Cambridge University Press, 2000)
(Optional Half) Paper 10: Development: Perspectives and Debates (Michaelmas Term)

Coordinator: Prof Bill Hurst

Updated for 2022/23: What makes some countries rich and others poor? Why are some states successful in forging economic development, while others are not?  Are there inherent trade-offs between economic growth and democracy, or between development and stability or equality? Are there any universal models countries can apply when seeking development success?  These are the sorts of questions that have motivated various analyses and perspectives on the political economy of development.  This paper is meant as an overview of the classic foundational perspectives on these questions and the debates between them.  The paper coordinator has deliberately kept the readings manageable and therefore expects students to prepare thoroughly by completing all of them each week.

Assessment is by means of a series of essays on set topics, totalling 3,500 words.

Week 1 Reading: Modernization Theory 

  • Emile Durkheim The Division of Labour in Society (1893)
  • Alex Inkeles “Making Men Modern: on the Causes and Consequences of Individual Change in Six Developing Countries” American Journal of Sociology 75(2): 208-225 (1969).
  • Daniel Lerner The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East Glencoe IL: The Free Press, 1958.
  • W.W. Rostow “The Stages of Economic Growth” Economic History Review, 12(1): 1-16 (1959).
  • Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)
(Optional Half) Paper 270: Protests, Social Movements and Development (Michaelmas Term)

Coordinator: Dr Sarah Lockwood

Updated for 2022/23: From the sex strikes of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, to Ghandi’s Salt March against British colonialism, the Treatment Action Campaign’s marches for access to drugs for HIV-infected South Africans, and the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, protest has long been used as a tool to communicate grievances and forge social, political, and economic change. Indeed, in 2011, Time Magazine named “The Protester” as Person of the Year, emphasising the power of protests and social movements in this regard. But what role do protests and social movements really play in development? And how can we understand and assess both their causes and consequences?

This course provides an introduction to the study of protests, social movements and political contention as they relate to development. We will explore some of the most enduring and complex questions of politics including: Why and under what conditions do people protest?

What affects protest dynamics? How is social media transforming social movements? And what has been the impact of protests and social movements around the world? 

Cases studied will include the Arab Spring, the US Civil Rights Movement, anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, the Occupy movement, #BlackLivesMatter and many others.

Assessment is by means of one 4,000 word essay.

Week 1 Required Reading

  • Cox, L. (2018). Why Social Movements Matter: An Introduction. London: Rowman and Littlefield International. [Introduction and Chapter 1]
  • Opp, K. (2009). Theories of Political Protest and Social Movements: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, Critique and Synthesis. New York: Routledge. [Chapter 2: Protest, Social Movements, and Collective Action, pp.33-44].
  • Scott, J.C. (1989). Everyday Forms of Resistance. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 4, 33-62.
  • Du Bois, W.E.D. (1903). Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others. [Chapter III in The Souls of Black Folk].
(Optional Half) Paper 390: Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Environmentalism (Michaelmas Term)

Coordinator: Dr Tamara Wattnem

Updated for 2022/23:“Sustainable development” is a fiercely disputed concept, both within academia and outside of it. Since the 1980s, international development debates have increasingly engaged with environmental issues and sustainability. The central question undergirding these debates is: Can we sustain economic growth and remedy the problems of “underdevelopment” – especially poverty and inequality – while simultaneously curbing resource use and preserving the environment? This paper addresses diverse theoretical and policy perspectives on sustainable development and environmental (in)justice, highlighting how both have changed over time. It situates discourses on sustainability and environmental stewardship in their historical and political contexts, stressing the global power relations, inequalities, and assumptions shaping them.
The paper begins by introducing major approaches and theoretical frameworks on human-environment interactions, including: the economic growth vs. environmental limits debate, the treadmill of production, ecological modernization, various conservation logics, and key insights from environmental sociology and political ecology. It then addresses the convergence of the development and sustainability discourses, i.e., the rise of the concept of sustainable development. We trace its evolution, how the idea has been institutionalized and variously interpreted over time, as well as contestations to hegemonic narratives of sustainability. Case studies that illustrate the broader themes and theoretical perspectives are woven throughout, ranging from climate change politics, pollution and waste management, biodiversity loss, global environmental governance, energy politics, and the expansion of the extractive frontier.

Assessment is by means of one 4,000 word essay.

Indicative Readings:

  • Death, Carl. 2016. The Green State in Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Ellwood, Wayne. 2014. The No-Nonsense Guide to Degrowth and Sustainability. New Internationalist.
  • Fortwangler, Crystal. 2003. “The Winding Road: Incorporating Social Justice and Human Rights into Protected Areas Policy.” In Brechin, Steven et al. (eds.). Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity with Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century, pp. 25-40. Albany: SUNY Press.
  • Hopwood, Bill, Mary Mellor and Geoff O’Brien. 2005. “Sustainable development: mapping different approaches.” Sustainable Development 13: 38–52.
  • Lélé, Sharachchandra. 1991. “Sustainable Development: A Critical Review.” World Development 19(6): 607-621.
  • Li, Yifei and Shapiro, Judith. 2020. China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet. New York: Polity.
  • Moore, Jason. 2017. “The Capitalocene, Part I: On the Nature and Origins of Our Ecological Crisis.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 44(3): 594-630.
  • Newell, Peter. 2005. “Race, class and the global politics of environmental inequality.” Global Environmental Politics 5(3): 70-94.
  • Nixon, Rob. 2013. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Pellow, David and Hollie Brehm. 2013. “An Environmental Sociology for the Twenty-First Century.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 229-50.
  • Riofrancos, Thea. 2020. Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Robbins, Paul. 2019. “Political versus Apolitical Ecologies.” In Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Shiva, Vandana. 2010. “Resources.” In Sachs, Wolfgang. The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, pp. 228-242. London: Zed Books.
(Optional Half) Paper 250: Political Economy of Development in Africa (Lent Term)

Coordinator: Dr Jostein Hauge

Updated for 2022/23: 1.4 billion people live in Africa, making it the second most populous continent in the world. Currently this constitutes 18% of the world’s population, a share that is set to keep growing. Yet, Africa’s share of global GDP and global trade both remain around 3%. While some countries in Africa have showcased impressive economic growth since the early 2000s, economic development keeps evading the region at large. Why is this the case? What explains economic development and underdevelopment in Africa? How can economic development be achieved? These questions have been and are still fiercely debated among scholars and policy practitioners, and the political and economic contexts of these questions keep changing. In this paper, we will tackle development issues in Africa from a political economy perspective, focusing on issues of structural/productive transformation in the past and present, and Africa in the changing global economic context (international political economy).

In line with traditions within political economy, the paper adopts a critical and multidisciplinary perspective, drawing on approaches from a range of social sciences. Topics to be covered — all with a focus on Africa — include: economic growth and development narratives/theories; technological change, industrialisation and industrial policy; economic development in the context of North-South relations; imperialism; international trade, global value chains and foreign direct investment; developmental states; employment, labour and economic development; commodity dependence and decarbonisation; the rise of China in Africa; and the political economy of development in some of Africa’s major economies.

Assessment is by means of one 4,000 word essay.

Indicative readings:

  • Amin, S. (1974). Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment. Monthly Review Press.
  • Brautigam, D. (2011). The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa. Oxford University Press.
  • Carmody, P. (2016). The New Scramble for Africa. Polity Press.
  • Chang, H.J., Hauge, J. and Irfan, M. (2016). Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa. UN Economic Commission for Africa.
  • Chelwa, G. (2021). Does economics have an ‘Africa problem’? Economy and Society, 50(1), pp.78-99.
  • Cramer, C., Sender, J. and Oqubay, A. (2020). African Economic Development: Evidence, Theory, Policy. Oxford University Press.
  • Jerven, M. (2015). Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong. Zed Books.
  • Lopes, C. (2018). Africa in Transformation: Economic Development in the Age of Doubt. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mkandawire, T. (2001). Thinking about developmental states in Africa. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 25(3), pp.289-314.
  • Padayachee, V. (ed.) (2010). The Political Economy of Africa. Routledge.
(Optional Half) Paper 260: Food, Technology & Development (Lent Term)

Coordinator: Dr Joeva Rock

Updated for 2022/23: Experts postulate that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9 billion, placing a high demand on the world’s farmers and foodways. As the population grows and the climate becomes increasingly unpredictable, academics, policymakers and development practitioners are calling for new technologies and “smarter” food to address global food security, especially in the developing world.  

While advancements in food-related technologies such as biofortification and gene editing show promise, technology is always shaped by society, making its development and implementation not so straightforward. In this paper, we will analyse present and past efforts to develop food and agricultural technologies for the poor by situating such developments within their political, economic and social contexts.  

The paper draws from across multiple disciplines – including anthropology, history, and geography – to 1) understand how food, agriculture and technology have long been central to global development efforts; 2) situate and analyze the historical contexts of food and agricultural technologies; and 3) consider how things like patents, taste, and public private partnerships impact the development and use of food technologies.

Assessment is by means of one 4,000 word essay.

Week 1 Reading: Situating Food and Agriculture in Development ?

  • Jurkovich, Michelle (2020) Feeding the Hungry: Advocacy and Blame in the Global Fight Against Hunger. Ithaca: Cornell UP. (Chapter 1, pp. 13-33)
  • Logan, Amanda (2020) The Scarcity Slot: Excavating Histories of Food Security in Ghana. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Introduction, pp. 1-18)
  • Royal Society (2009) Reaping the Benefits: Science and the Sustainable Intensification of Global Agriculture. Report. (Chapter 1, pp. 1-10; skim the remainder of the report)
  • Glover, Dominic, et al. (2016) The Adoption Problem; or Why We Still Understand So Little About Technological Change in African Agriculture. Outlook on Agriculture 45(1): 3-6.
(Optional Half) Paper 290: Civil Conflict, Political Violence and Development (Lent Term)

Coordinator: Dr Sarah Lockwood

Updated for 2021/22: Armed civil conflicts are among the most devastating social phenomena in the modern world. They often have staggering death tolls, along with a significant number of other adverse consequences such as infrastructure destruction, population displacement, capital flight, and the undermining of social trust. Indeed, as Collier et al (2003) note: civil conflicts often function as “development in reverse,” devastating a country’s development prospects in both the short and long run.

This course examines the relationship between political violence and development, with a particular focus on the ways in which political violence affects both short and long-run development outcomes. We will seek to answer questions including: Why and where does political violence occur? Why do armed groups target civilians? What is the relationship between economic development and conflict? Is terrorism a successful way of bringing about political change? And how can we mitigate some of the negative effects of conflict?

Cases studied will include the DRC, Rwanda, Nigeria, Yugoslavia and Algeria, but there will be substantial opportunities for students to bring in other countries of interest, and to develop an indepth knowledge of these cases.

Assessment is by means of one 4,000 word essay.

Week 1 required reading

  • Tilly, Charles. (2003). The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. [Chapter 3: Trends in Violence]
  • Goldstein, Joshua. (2011). Think Again: War. Foreign Policy, September/October 
  • Pinker, Steven. (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity. New York: Penguin Group Ltd. [Chapter 6 – The New Peace]. 
  • Autesserre, Séverine. 2012.  Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and their Unintended Consequences. African Affairs, 111(443): 202-222.