Past Event

Development Economics for Non-Economists

From 15 Jan 2018 9:00 until 19 Jan 2018 17:00

Institute of Development Studies
University of Sussex, Library Road, Falmer,

Cartoon on the 'money man'

Why attend? 

Policymakers tend to love economists. This is partly because they support decision making around trade-offs and the allocation of scarce resources, but also because they offer unambiguous answers to policy questions. Despite the fact that these answers do not always prove to be correct, this has granted economics significant power to shape development policy.

This unique course offers a stimulating, interactive, and entertaining introduction to the world of development economics. It equips those who work in international development to: better understand economic theories, models, and jargon; differentiate ‘good’ from ‘bad’ economics; draw on different strands of economics for their own work; integrate economics with other research traditions and techniques; and challenge economic thinking more fruitfully when necessary. As well as being fun (yes, really…), the course relates debates and approaches in economics (including emerging, cutting-edge practices) to the challenges those working in international development face today as they seek to realise the Sustainable Development Goals.

With development policy profoundly shaped by economic thinking, it is crucial to empower practitioners and policymakers to engage with economists on an equal footing. Economics isn’t as complicated as some pretend, and it’s far too important to be left to economists. (Stephen Spratt, IDS Fellow)

Course aims

To equip non-economists working on issues of international development to engage better with economists and policy-makers on economic matters. Participants will learn how to identify, understand, apply, discuss, and if necessary challenge economics in development.

Who should attend?

Enthusiastic and engaged participants interested in deepening their understanding of development economics (and economics in general). This includes people from multilateral and bilateral donors, government agencies, international non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and private foundations, as well as researchers working on international development and related subjects.

How will participants learn?

Each day combines a range of session types, from theoretical to practical, and is participatory and discussion-oriented. Topical examples related to the Sustainable Development Goals are used throughout. Lengthy, dry theoretical expositions are studiously avoided and debate encouraged. A light reading load is expected to be done in participants’ spare time in advance and during the course.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course you should be able to…

  • Understand the epistemological foundations, history of economics, and different traditions in development economics
  • Recognise, apply and challenge key economic concepts, including: marginalism; maximisation/optimisation; efficiency; utility; rationality; macro/micro
  • Understand the tools of economic analysis as they relate to development
  • Assess the weaknesses and strengths of economics in tackling questions of international development
  • Contrast and integrate economics with other disciplines and research traditions
  • Understand the contribution that economics could make to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and what might be required to realise this potential.

The programme covers the field of development economics in five days:

Day 1: History and schools of thought in economics broadly, and development economics specifically – how did we get here?

Day 2: Macro, micro, and methods – what makes economists ‘tick’?

Day 3: Growth, inequality and poverty – the big questions about economic development.

Day 4: Independence or interdependence – what role for trade, aid, and global finance?

Day 5: Markets, the state, and the future of development economics.

A full course programme will be made available shortly. 

Teaching team

Stephen Spratt – Stephen is a Research Fellow and economist at IDS. As well as having a thorough grounding in neoclassical and development economics, Stephen has also engaged extensively with heterodox economics and seeks to maintain a healthy scepticism of all ‘schools of thought’.

Phil Mader – Phil is an IDS Research Fellow who has studied economics, development studies and sociology (at Sussex, Cambridge, Harvard and Cologne).

Amrita Saha – Amrita holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. Her current post-doctoral roles include data management officer for the consortium on Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) at IDS and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Giulia Mascagni – Giulia’s is an economist by training. Her main area of work is taxation, but she has research interests in public finance, evaluation of public policy, and aid effectiveness.

Jean-Pierre Tranchant – Jean-Pierre is an applied economist who specialises in the quantitative analysis of household surveys and cross-national data using experimental and quasi-experimental methods.


IDS’ faculty are not only researchers but practitioners whose global professional experiences provide topical, real-world perspectives. (Thandiwe Moyana-Munzara)

IDS has given me inter-cultural fluency; an ability to work across cultures; learning from IDS and interacting with diverse peer groups. (Baseer Omaid)

The quality of speakers was incredibly high and I found myself interested in topics I wasn’t interested in before. Phil Mader as a lecturer was excellent; he was very supportive, informative and visibly cared for his students and their learning experience. (Anonymous)

Stephen is a very engaging lecturer! (Anonymous)

Entry requirements

The course will be taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, participants should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. Your English needs to be of an intermediate standard or higher; participants must have an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or above, or a Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) score of B2 or above. Deep understanding of mathematics or statistics is not required. Indeed, one of the goals of the course is to demystify some of the quantitative aspects of economics. Participants would normally have a higher education degree and/or substantial practical experience in development-related work.

Study materials

Key readings will be made available on our dedicated Study Direct website; participants will be expected to read a selection of these texts in advance of the course.

Course fees

The course costs £1,499.99 for five days, including lunches and refreshments, a group dinner, and course materials. It does not include accommodation.

Once you have received confirmation that your application has been approved, the fee must be paid in full before the course commences. There are no bursaries available. IDS Alumni may be eligible for a discount.

How to apply

Before applying please read our Terms and Conditions (pdf).

The application procedure is a three-stage process:

  • Stage 1: Apply by completing the application form. Deadline for applications is 5 November 2017.
  • Stage 2: You will be notified by 19 November 2017 as to whether your application has been approved or not. Successful applicants will receive the Stage 2 application form and an invoice for the course fee. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received.
  • Stage 3: Once fees have been received, you will be sent confirmation of your place on the course and a letter to support your visa application (if required).

You are responsible for organising your own travel and visas (where needed). If travelling from overseas, you must arrive in the UK ready to begin the course at 9:00 on Monday 15 January, and depart no earlier than the evening of Friday 19 January. The course will run from 9:00 to 17:00 each day.

Information about local accommodation will be provided by the course coordinator once your fees have been processed. A limited number of study bedrooms at IDS are available for rent on a first come first served basis.

Image credit: Thomas Galvez on Flickr

Key contacts

Leah Plati

Programme Officer (MA) Programme Manager (Short Courses)


+44 (0)1273 915832


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Download as PDF PDF