Political Economy of Development Aid

  • Studiepoeng10
  • UndervisingssemesterVår
  • EmnekodeSAMPOL349
  • Talet på semester1
  • SpråkEnglish
  • Ressursar


Studiepoeng, omfang


Studienivå (studiesyklus)



Spring - irregular

Mål og innhald

International development agencies invest large amounts of resources in promoting sustainable governance and public services, civil society, and economic development in low-income countries.

This seminar introduces students to the principles of foreign and development aid, emphasizing the administration of aid interventions and the interplay between aid agencies, local politics, and civil society. The first part of the course aims at improving the general understanding of how bureaucratic processes and dynamics as well as the local political, socio-economic, and logistical conditions affect aid programs in terms of planning, allocation, implementation, and effectiveness. The second part of the seminar will focus on practical issues: what are the main organizational challenges in designing, planning, and implementing aid projects in challenging environments?

We will investigate policies, practical guidelines, and best practices of bilateral and multilateral aid agencies to get to understand how these institutions function internally. Specifically, we analyze how their internal organizational and operational approaches may generate adverse consequences in terms of misallocations, ineffectiveness, and negative effects on local political, economic, and social conditions.



After successful completion, students will have acquired the following knowledge:

  • Understand theoretical and empirical definitions of foreign and development aid
  • Understand the allocation mechanisms, intended and unintended impacts of development aid
  • Understand how the local context conditions, local actors and international agencies affect the impact of development


After completion, students will have gained the following skills:

  • Develop and apply development theories to empirical problems
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of development aid and effectiveness
  • Formulate causal arguments, mechanisms and conditionalities on development aid


After successful completion, students will have acquired the following competences:

  • Evaluate and criticize research and policies on development aid, conditionalities and impact
  • Formulate and create research questions based on latest empirical research
  • Understand and evaluate the promises and limits of different research designs
  • Communicate the basics premises and findings of this body of research 


Krav til forkunnskapar

Students must have completed a bachelor's degree in political science or an equivalent (subject to approval by the administration of the Department of Comparative Politics).

Tilrådde forkunnskapar




Krav til studierett

The course is oriented towards students who have been accepted into the department's master's program but is open to visiting students upon approval of student request.

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

Seminar format

  • Discussions
  • Individual and group exercises

Obligatorisk undervisningsaktivitet



Response Paper (20%): You are expected to write a critical response paper of maximum 1000 words in which you briefly summarize one scholarly article and then discuss the merits and/or shortcomings of this article.

Research Design Paper (80%): The main contribution to your final grade will be a research design paper of maximum 5000 words. You are supposed to write a paper in which you develop a research question that relates to the topic of the seminar, review the relevant literature, introduce the key concepts and how these relate to each other, develop a testable hypothesis and propose how you would empirically analyze your hypothesis.

The response paper counts towards 20% of the final grade, and the research design papers counts towards 80% of the final grade. Both parts of the exam must be submitted and passed in order to get a passing grade on the final exam.

Hjelpemiddel til eksamen



Grading A-F


Assessment in teaching semester




All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education


The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  


Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB. 

Administrativt ansvarleg

Department of Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.