POLS209-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Special Topic: International Development Studies

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018


This course provides an introduction to the history and theories of international development. It further looks at contemporary challenges involving a plurality of actors in the field, notably the United Nations family, the World Bank and non-governmental organisations.

This course addresses the history, practices, discourses and theories of international development.
While politics and economics will be the main disciplines guiding the material covered in class, a wide range of other approaches will also be discussed, such as political ecology, critical race theory and indigenous studies.

The course is divided in four main Modules. In the first part of the course, the history of international development efforts will be addressed. This historical review will be key in appreciating how changing global and regional political contexts have informed the rise – and fall – of different theories of international development since the end of World War II. The second Module of the course tackles the politics of international aid, with an emphasis on Official Development Assistance (ODA). Here, a critical review of the motivations and practices for and around aid allocation will be pivotal in assessing the impact of aid on the ground. The third Module investigates the roles and practices of civil society in the context of international development efforts. Attention will be paid to the plurality of actors nestled within the umbrella concept of ‘civil society’, ranging from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to grass-root associations and social movements. Key contemporary questions will be addressed: the role of civil society in fostering – and sometimes hampering – social change; the institutional and financial constraints faced by these organisations; and the global divide between Northern and Southern NGOs. The fourth and final Module of the course is dedicated to the class final project.

Learning Outcomes

Gain knowledge on the historical underpinnings of international development efforts and how – and why – they influenced theoretical approaches in the field of international development
studies (UC attributes: 1, 3, 5);

  • Critically reflect on the strengths and failings of the main theories informing the field in international development studies (UC attributes: 1, 3, 5);
  • Building on a case studies from different regions of the world, demonstrate an ability to analyse how the range of political, economic and altruistic motives that animate actors across the field impact the outcomes of development activities on the ground (UC attributes: all);
  • Bring student to critically reflect on their own viewpoints on North-South
    relations (UC attributes: all).
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


15 points in POLS at 100-level. Students not meeting the prerequisites but with at least a B average in 60 points in appropriate courses may be admitted to take Political Science and International Relations courses at the 200-level with the approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 11:00 - 14:00 Ernest Rutherford 141 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct

Course Coordinator

Pascale Hatcher


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 35%
Informed participation 25%
Class Project 40% Essay - 2,000 words


The weekly readings are compulsory. They have been selected to complete the information provided during the lectures and to guide the weekly class discussions. Note that the length of weekly assignments is representative of a 200-level POLS course load. The weekly readings will be posted on POLS209 Learn page. Additionally, students are encouraged to seek out other literature on the topics covered in class, notably in daily newspapers, magazines, documentaries, journals, etc. Note that an extensive bibliography organised around each week’s topic will also be made available.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $746.00

International fee $3,038.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All POLS209 Occurrences

  • POLS209-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018