The Global Political Economy of Development - Online global development courses | Arts and Science Online

Queen's University

Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • RSS

The Global Political Economy of Development

DEVS 230/3.0

Applying global political economy perspectives to key aspects of development finance. Topics include the introduction of basic economic terms, the role of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, and the growing roles of Transnational Corporations and financial markets in development.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

On completing this course it is envisaged that students will have:

  • A solid grounding in the political economy of development
  • An ability to present and evaluate some of the key debates over development strategy, from trade liberalization to the role of NGOs and global finance
  • A conceptualization of the power relations between the various actors that shape the processes and outcomes of global development
  • A clear understanding of the functions (past and present) of the three key institutions in global development: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO)


  • From Colonialism to the Development Project: Insitututions and Politics of Development
  • The Debt Crisis
  • Conditionality and Structural Adjustment
  • Trade and Development: Comparative Advantage for Everyone or Imperialism for the Few?
  • Foreign Direct Investment - The Motor of Development?
  • Financial Flows, Financial Crises
  • Good Governance and Investment Climate: A New Conditionality?
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Development: The Way Forward or a Blind Alley?
  • Aid, NGOs, and Private Financing for Development: The New Saviours or the New Colonialists?


This course introduces students to important debates within the political economy of development. In using a political economy perspective we examine how different types of power relations are formed around the production, distribution and consumption of goods across local, national and international settings.

We examine how these power relations structure the institutions, processes and outcomes of ‘global development’ and we do this historically, by examining the ways in which post-colonial countries were integrated into the world economy in the decades following the Second World War.

Subsequently, we use this basis to examine more contemporary issues, from free trade to good governance to corporate social responsibility. No prior study of economics is needed for this course – we will be concerned with the real world of development, not abstract mathematical models.

There are three main sections to the course:

First, we examine how the key institutions of the contemporary global economy were established and evolved in the period following the Second World War. We assess in detail the context that many newly-independent countries found themselves in following the colonial era and the strategies that many followed in order to try and achieve ‘development’ through industrialization. Despite strong economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, this ‘golden era of development’ ground to a halt in the 1970s and, by the 1980s, many countries became mired in debt. We examine different perspectives on what caused this ‘Debt Crisis’ and examine the means used to resolve it, particularly the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in promulgating structural adjustment programs.

We then build on this to examine contemporary debates over the strategies that countries should follow in order to promote ‘development’. We focus on recent debates over trade liberalization, foreign direct investment, financial flows and good governance. These issues have stirred controversy within development studies: there are contrasting views on how policies such as trade liberalization and openness to foreign capital should fit (if at all) into a country’s development strategy. Moreover, opinions are divided over who are the winners and losers when such policies are pursued. We examine the various sides of these debates and ask how a political economy perspective helps us understand them.

For the final two weeks, we turn to the issues of corporate social responsibility and the role of NGOs in development.  Again, we use a political economy perspective to reflect on the promises and pitfalls of both as vehicles of progressive change in global development.

Online discussion forums will take place each week to provide a space for you to discuss the key debates around the topic and allow you to explore the week’s material with your peers in order to improve your understanding. The forums will be an opportunity to discuss the readings and to clarify the main points of contention between them. You will be expected to elaborate on what the strengths of the readings are, how they relate to each other, and how they help us understand the issue at hand.


Winter 2020
Course Dates: 
Jan 6 - Apr 3, 2020
Exam Dates: 
Apr 9 - 25, 2020


30% - Midterm Take-home Test
30% - Assignments & Participation
40% - Proctored Final Exam

** Evaluation Subject to Change **

Live Sessions

This course has required and optional live sessions (e.g. webinars, synchronous activities). Please consult the Timeline in the first week of class.

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.


Professor Mark Hostetler (

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 15 hours per week (96 hours per term) on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

  • Laptop or Desktop computer purchased within the last 5 years. (mobile devices are not supported)
  • Windows Vista SP2/Mac OSX 10.9 or higher
  • Up to date versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. Please note that Google Chrome is not recommended for use in our courses.
  • Most recent version of Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash

 See also Getting Started.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer Term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $685.90; for a 6.0-unit course, $1371.80 See also Tuition and Fees.

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.