• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Development Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Francesca Merlan
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

This course will focus on a number of important and current concepts in development policy and practice, explore their background in the social sciences, their recent history in development, and provide some practical experience in dealing with them. We begin by looking at who development practitioners are, and changing understandings of what development involves. We then examine the role of notions of `community’  and `culture’  in development, participation and capability, the rise of the framework of `social capital', gender sensitivity, justice and human rights, indigenous knowledge, views of sustainability and appropriate technology in development. In locating some of the background to development concepts in the social sciences, we explore the relationships and tensions between their uses there and in forms of development, trying to identify pitfalls and positives. In weekly readings, we try to balance theoretical discussion of particular concepts with some grounded exemplification of how they have figured in development practice.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the background to key development concepts,
  2. Evaluate their use in development projects, policy, and practice,
  3. Independently develop a research design, and
  4. Choose rigorous and practical research methods to address a problem focussed research question(s)

Indicative Assessment

Essay 1500 words 15% (LO 1)

Annotated Bibliography 1000 words 10% (LO 1)

Major Project  2500 words 20% (LO 2, 3)

Research Essay 5000 words 50% (LO 2, 3, 4)

Participation 5% (LO 1, 2)

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3 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial per week for 13 weeks. Students are expected to undertake a further 16 hours of independent study per week over the semester (total 260 hours)

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying Bachelor of Arts Honours (HARTS or HART2) or Bachelor of Development Studies Honours (HDEVS), or completed 144 units towards the Bachelor of Philosphy (Arts) (APHAR or APNAR).

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading


Cornwall, A. 2000. Making a Difference? Gender and Participatory Development. Institute of Development Studies Discussion Paper No. 378, University of Sussex.

Doornbos, M. 2001. `Good Governance’: The Rise and Decline of a Policy Metaphor? Journal of Development Studies 37(6): 93-108.

Evans, Peter  2002. Collective Capabilities, Culture, and Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom. Studies in Comparative International Development 37(2): 54-60.

Harriss, J. 2001. Public Action and the Dialectics of Decentralisation: Against the Myth of Social Capital as `The Missing Link in Development’. Social Scientist 29 (11-12):25-40.

Hart, K. and V. Padayachee 2011. Development. From The Human Economy, Keith Hart, Jean-Louis Laville and Antonio David Cattani eds. Polity.

Ibrahim, S. And Hulme, D. 2010. Has civil society helped the poor?: A review of the roles and contributions of civil society to poverty reduction. BWPI (Brooks World Poverty Institute) Working Paper 114. Manchester: BWPI

Mohan, G. and K. Stokke 2000. Participatory development and empowerment. Third World Quarterly 21 (2).

Sen, Amartya 2004. How Does Culture Matter? Pp. 37-58 in Culture and Public Action: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on Development Policy. Eds.

Thirwall, A. P. 2002. Development as Economic Growth. Pp. 41-4 in The Companion to Development Studies, eds. V. Desai and R.B. Potter. Hodder Arnold.

Walker, A. 2001. Introduction: Simplification and the Ambivalence of Community. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 2(2): 1 -20.

Assumed Knowledge

Completion of a cognate major



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
12 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

12.00 0.25000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $5208
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $7152
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3456 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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