Development, Colonialism, Intervention

Module Code: SO7047

Module Description:

This module will critically theorise and contextualise historical and contemporary global North interventions in the global South by state and non-state actors, assessing their impact and their implications for the development of poorer nations.  It will link European expansionism five centuries ago to the contemporary economic alignments of ‘First World’ and ‘Third World’.  It will consider how these unequal and unjust relations have been perpetuated since World War Two through sustained political and economic control of the global South by overt and covert means. 

Post-war Interventionism has included direct and proxy military engagements and, from the 1970s onwards, the combination of debt and neoliberalism has maintained a state of dependence and under-development in most poorer nations. NGOs have stepped into this development deficit and regularly find themselves on the front lines of these economic relationships, operating in a delicate space between ‘First World’ donors and ‘Third World’ clients.  The impact of NGOs and aid on the global South is discussed along with the implications of the 2008 financial crisis and decline of neoliberalism for the development sector.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion, students are expected to be able to critically:

Delivery and syllabus:

The module is delivered in 11 seminar slots consisting of a lecturing input, student participation and informal presentations. Students are expected to read before each session to facilitate discussion.

Main topics

The module will examine how the theoretical basis of international development has shaped practical relations between the global North and South. Students will be introduced to a range of global issues that inform and reflect interventions in the global South by state and non-state actors. Students will access a range of readings that speak to the causes of global poverty and injustice and how they can be addressed. The main topics covered will include:

1. Theorising international development
2. The origins of the ‘First’ and ‘Third’ Worlds
3. Aid as an agent of development
4. Debt and structural adjustment
5. NGOs and the global South
6. The decline of US hegemony and rise of the global South
7. China in Africa
8. The Global Goals
9. Development Education and Social Change

Recommended Texts

There is no set text, but the following texts will prove useful (all available in the library):


The assessment for this module is in two parts. Prior to writing the final essay on a theoretical topic of your choice (in consultation with the lecturer), you will be asked to submit a 300 word abstract (due week 10 of Hilary Term). At the end of week 10 of the Hilary Term you will submit an essay (max 3000 words). Submission dates to be arranged.