Social Change, Culture and Development (L2107N)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module starts from the observation that development is more than economic change and involves important social and cultural aspects. It begins with an interrogation of the way development practices and ideas are embedded in cultural contexts. It specifically explores how the development industry is historically and culturally entangled in Western conceptions of progress, rationality and the individual.

Against a view of culture as 'tradition' and an impediment to development, we will examine different cultural conceptions of progress. This involves both alternate visions of future development, as well as the negative impacts that development policies and interventions have on local people, communities and cultures. Questions of power and cultural relativism inevitably arise:

  • What happens when different interests and commitments collide?
  • Who or what determines the module development interventions take?


67%: Lecture
33%: Seminar


40%: Coursework (Essay)
60%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 20 hours of contact time and about 130 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: