• Class Number 2725
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Sharon Bessell
    • Prof Sharon Bessell
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

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In 2015 over 150 world leaders agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals, as the global agenda to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the following 15 years. The SDGs quickly became synonymous with development, and now shape domestic and international development policies.. What theories, ideas and assumptions underpin the SDGs?  Are they a departure from international efforts that came before? Do the 17 SDGs represent a genuine consensus on development, or do they mask ongoing deep divides?
The SDGs represent agreement on a global agenda to ‘promote prosperity while protecting the planet.’ Yet as poverty and inequality continue to plague the lives of much of the world's population, development often seems elusive. Despite the representation of the SDGs as a global consensus, the very concept of development remains contested.
This course critically examines some of the major themes that have shaped – and continue to shape – global development efforts. It places several of the themes represented in the SDGs under the spotlight, exploring their origins, the often contested ideas and theories that underpin them, and the ongoing debates. The course does not assume there is a single or a correct approach towards development. Rather, using the SDGs as a prism, it aims to explore and critically assess the ideas, values and assumptions that have shaped international development agendas.

Learning Outcomes

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

On successful completion of this course, students will:
1.      Have a deep understanding of different, often competing, conceptualisations of ‘development’
2.      Have a sound knowledge of several major theories of international development
3.      Be able to critically analyse the strengths and shortcomings of major theories
4.      Have a strong understanding of several themes that dominate the contemporary international development agenda
5.      Be able to critically analyse the strengths and shortcomings of dominant themes

Required Resources

There is no text book for Development Themes and Theories. Weekly readings are provided in the course brick, and are listed below.

Most weeks have two or more readings. The more you read, the more you will gain from the course. It is not compulsory that you read every article every week. Some weeks you will read more than others, depending on your time and your interest in the topic. You should always read at least one article from the reading list for each week. If you do not do any reading, you will not gain maximum benefit from the class.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Wednesday 27 February: Development and the Global Goals ‘Development’ is a commonly used, but highly contested term. In this first session, we begin to examine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. We begin to explore three key questions: - What does development mean? - Who sets the development agenda? - How does the concept of development differ across cultures, geographic location, and time? REMINDER: You should start thinking seriously about the content and key message(s) of your first podcast this week. READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
2 Wednesday 6 March: The Origins of Development Thinking - Modernisation Theory and Dependency Theory Over the next 5 weeks, we examine the big ideas that have shaped - and continued to shape - development theory and practice before we move on to look closely at some of the SDGs. Today we begin by looking at the early two early, and highly influential, theories: Modernisation Theory and (in stark contrast) Dependency Theory. READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
3 Tuesday 13 March: From Modernisation to Liberation to Orthodoxy: The In this session, we explore ideas of development as ‘liberation’, ‘people-centred development’, and the now highly influential participatory development. We also examine how these ideas were incorporated into the ‘mainstream’ development agenda. We also begin to think about the SDGs in the context of participatory development - and explore the process of developing the SDGs. READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
4 Wednesday 20 March: From Needs to Rights In this session, we explore both the basic needs approach and the rights-based approach to development. We ask: - What is a basic needs approach? - What are the strengths and weaknesses of a basic needs approach? - What is a rights-based approach? - Why did the rights based approach emerge? - What are the strengths and weaknesses of a rights-based approach READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
5 Tuesday 27 March: The Capability Approach and Human Development - A new people centred paradigm? In 1990 UNDP introduced the Human Development Index and commenced the annual publication of the Human Development Report. The concept of human development draws on the capabilities approach, developed by Amartya Sen, and also theorised by Martha Nussbaum and others. In this session, we examine the theoretical underpinnings of ‘human development’ by exploring the capabilities approach. We also critically assess the Human Development Index. ’s Ideas on Capabilities’, Feminist Economics, Volume 9, Number 2 READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
6 Tuesday 3 April: What did ‘Structural Adjustment’ aim to achieve? And What is the Neo-Liberal Agenda? One of the great development debates over recent decades –and continuing today –is the imposition of structural adjustment on (so-called) ‘poorly performing’ countries. In this session, we place structural adjustment in its historical context and examine the key debates. We will also begin to debate the notion of conditionality within international development assistance. We also explore neo-liberalism in the context of development.. READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE NB: The teaching break starts next week - no classes for two weeks.
7 Wednesday 24 April: Addressing Poverty and Inequality This week we begin to explore some of the SDGs in detail. We begin today by looking at SDGs 1 (ending poverty) and 10 (addressing inequality), as well as SDG2 (ending hunger), which are central to the SDG agenda. SDG2) fit within those debates.
8 Wednesday 1 May: Promoting Gender Equality SDG5 aims to 'achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.' This week we trace the development of thinking about gender (and women specifically) within development theory and practice. From the publication of Ester Boserup's book, Woman’s Role in Economic Development, in 1970 through the 'Women in Development (WID) approach to Gender and Development (GAD) and the adoption of gender equality within the Millennium Development Goals, we analyse the ways in which the 'problems' of women and gender have been constructed, and the resulting policies. We explore Naila Kabeer's critique of the approach of the Millennium Development Goal, and ask where SDG5 fits within the debates. We also look briefly at how gender is represented in other goals. READINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR COURSE WATTLE SITE
9 Wednesday 8 May: Health and Education In this session, we explore in depth SDG3 (health) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), as well as SDG 4 (education). We examine how 'good' health and 'good' education are constructed within the SDGs and ask what ideas and assumptions underlie the framing of these goals.
10 Wednesday 15 May: The 'Infrastructure Goals' To date, we have focused on the SDGs that aim to improve the lives and well-being of people. The majority of the SDGs, however, while arguably being about the improvement of human well-being, focus on the infrastructure necessary to bring about that well-being. Today, we focus on what Waage et al have described as the 'infrastructure' goals, asking what ideas have shaped this group of global goals.
11 Wednesday 22 May: The 'Planetary Goals' Waage et al categorise SDGs 13 (climate action), 14 (life below the sea) and 15 (life on land) as relating to the preservation of the natural environment - these can be considered to be the 'planerary goals'. Today we examine these goals, and the ideas that lie behind them, and the extent to which they are contested. We also consider the extent to which these goals sit comfortably with the infrastructure goals.
12 Wednesday 29 May: Looking back and looking forward In this our final session, ask whether the Sustainable Development Goals do represent a new global consensus and new directions, or are simply old ideas repackaged.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Pod-cast 1 10 % 04/03/2019 18/03/2019 1, 4
Review Paper 20 % 09/04/2019 31/05/2019 2, 3, 4, 5
Essay 40 % 13/05/2019 31/05/2019 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Pod-cast 2 30 % 28/05/2019 04/07/2019 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 04/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 18/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 4

Pod-cast 1

Due 4 March

Your pod-cast should be approxminately three (3) minutes long. 

Details are available on our course Wattle site

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 09/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4, 5

Review Paper

Your review is due on Tuesday 9 April at 11.55pm.

The length of your review paper is 1200 words.

The review paper is worth 20% of your overall mark

Details are available on our course Wattle site

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 13/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Your essay is due on Monday 13 May

Your essay should be 2,000 words (not including the reference list) - plus or minus 10%

Your essay is worth 40% of your overall mark

Details are available on our course Wattle site

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 28/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Pod-cast 2

Your final pod-cast should be 8 to 10 minutes in duration. 

It should be uploaded onto the Wattle site by Tuesday 28 May at 11:55pm. You can upload it earlier if you wish.

Details are available on our course Wattle site

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Prof Sharon Bessell
6125 6562

Research Interests

Prof Sharon Bessell

Wednesday 09:30 12:30
Prof Sharon Bessell
6125 6562

Research Interests

Prof Sharon Bessell

Wednesday 09:30 12:30

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