POLS209-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Special Topic: International Development Studies

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


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).


Any 15 points at 100 level from POLS, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
the Schedule V of the BCom.

Course Coordinator

Pascale Hatcher


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Reading summary 10%
Final exam 40%
Mini homework 10%
Class project 40%

Textbooks / Resources

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 $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, 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

  • POLS209-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020