International Development

International Development

If you’re curious about the larger forces driving some developing countries ahead while others stagnate or decline—and you want more experience putting cutting-edge political economy theories to work in solving global poverty, climate change, and other development problems—this specialism is for you.

Our International Development specialism will help you understand the pressures that motivate and constrain development policymakers at all levels of government—local, national, and global—and across all sectors of the economy—public, private, and non-profit. Development scholars spend a great deal of time debating what political leaders should be doing, or not doing, to stimulate development. But even when these analysts agree—even when it seems clear to everyone that a particular policy would be highly conducive to development—politically constrained actors may not have always have an interest in pursuing that policy.

Our specialism will teach you how to apply theoretical tools to concrete cases of development management and mis-management. We’ll improve your capacity to evaluate large-scale development interventions—and smaller ones, too. From macro to micro, from theory to evidence, we’ll help you put it all together.


To be eligible for the International Development specialism you must pass the following courses:

International Political Economy and Development (PP448)

(0.5 units)

This course will develop your understanding of the political pressures that constrain development policy-makers at at all levels of government — local, national, and global — and across all sectors of the economy — public, private, and non-profit. If you want to understand the larger forces that can bias political and organisational actors toward ‘suboptimal’ development policies—and you want more experience putting cutting-edge political economy theories to use in solving current development problems — this course is for you.

Comparative Political Economy and Development (PP449)

(0.5 units)

Building upon the theoretical material and its applications introduced in International Political Economy and Development (PP448), this course emphasises politics on the ground in developing countries. Drawing on real-world examples including taxation and social spending, you will learn strategies for enacting pro-development reforms that might otherwise be politically infeasible, as well as widely-used measures and indicators of governance and democracy. 

Development Economics (PP454)

(1.0 units)

This course teaches the development economics skills needed for high-level public policy making. The focus is on theoretical and empirical skills to analyse public policies in developing countries and those topics at the forefront of development economics including political economy, trade liberalisation, growth, access to finance, technology adoption, education, health, infrastructure, property rights, land reform, gender, environment, mass media and political accountability. 

Potential careers

Graduates who have specialised in International Development have pursued careers in international development organisations, government development agencies, NGOs, and private sector companies including UNICEF, UNESCO, and the UN, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Oxford Policy Management, and Adam Smith International.