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Democracy and Development

Module Code: PO3670

Module Name: Democracy and Development

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week; 1 tutorial per fortnight
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr. Gavin Morrison

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between political institutions and economic development
  • Debate which institutions matter most for development: states, nations or regimes
  • Evaluate the historical evolution of democracy and nation states in the West
  • Compare Western experiences of political and economic development with those of developing countries today
  • Analyse the relationship between institutions and development in a variety of countries across the developing world
  • Show understanding of the different normative theories regarding the promotion of development

Module Learning Aims

By the end of this course, students will be familiar with the major debates about how different institutions matter for development.


Module Content

The relationship between democracy and development is one that has been debated by scholars for decades. The prominent economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, when has observed that “Democracy, it has been alleged, does far worse than authoritarian rule, especially in fostering economic growth and development.”  This is the central question that this module will grapple with – whether democracy fosters development or not. This module will begin by examining the key institutions of the modern world – the state, the nation, and regime – how they have developed over time and their relationship to development as in order to understand democracy and development we much first understand the institutional context in which they have arisen. We will then define democracy before examining the various ways in which democracy and democratization is linked with economic development.  This will involve examining issues such as how to measure democracy, the ‘resource curse’, the relationship between democracy and culture, and the question of whether aid hinders or promotes development. We will then look at a number of case study examples of countries or regions in the developing world and how different institutional structures have impacted their development in different ways. These case studies will include (but not be limited to) Nepal, India, and the experience of countries across Africa. The final section of the module will briefly examine theoretical approaches to what is, or is not, required of the developed world as regards the spreading of democratic norms and the promotion of economic development.

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Recommended Reading List

Przeworski, A, M.Alvare, J. Cheibub and F. Limongi. Democracy and Development. Cambride: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1999.

Further readings will primarily be drawn from academic journals available through the library website.  Every effort will be made to ensure that any books assigned, in addition to the two above, are readily available in the library.

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Assessment Details

  • Attendance at tutorials and response paper: 7%
  • 1st Essay: 9%
  • 2nd Essay: 9%
  • Final Exam: 75%

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Last updated 17 August 2016 polsci@tcd.ie.