nl en

Elective: Development Aid


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies. The number of participants is limited to 25.


Foreign development aid has been a feature of international relations and poverty relief ever since the end of the Second World War. Development aid is different from humanitarian assistance (which will not be consdered as part of the course). It is primarily intended to ‘grow’ countries, and in this respect it is often regarded as a failure or, at best, a very expensive success. We will examine the issues surrounding development aid, and the associated development theories, both from the perspective of the donor countries and from the standpoint of recipients. The field of development aid is wide-open for research, and who better to contribute to its study than students of International Studies?

The course will examine critically the background to the current policies in development assistance, with students choosing their own focus for their essays. There are various perspectives possible, always placing the central research focus in its relevant perspective:

  • Shifts in development theory

  • Motivations of donors

  • Aid v. trade debates

  • Aid effectiveness analyses

  • Millenium development goals

  • Aid and conditionality

  • Case studies of development projects

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar style discussion
Supervised research
Final conference.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 × 28 hours= 280 EC.

  • Preliminary Reading (2 hours per article) = 10 hours

  • Hours spent on attending seminars (2 hours per week x 10 weeks) = 20 hours

  • Preparing for seminar presentations and interventions (2 hours per week x 10 weeks) = 20 hours

  • Reading for seminars: (2 hours per article) 20 articles=40 hours

  • Research for paper:10 hours

  • Reading for paper (2 hours per article) 20 articles=40 hours

  • Preparing statistical framework for final paper = 20 hours

  • Writing final paper (1000 words per day drafting, 1000 words per day writing)= 80 hours

  • Preparing presentation for final conference = 5 hours

  • Preparing commentaries for final conference = 5 hours

  • Reading conference papers (24×1 hour)=24 hours

  • Attending final conference= 6 hours

Assessment method

Regular Assignments
Final paper of approx. 5,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography).


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrollment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Preliminary Reading

  • Alesina, A. and Dollar, D. (1998) “Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why?” NBER Working Paper 6612

  • Arndt, C., Jones, S. and Tarp, F. (2011). Aid Effectiveness: Opening the Black Box, World Institute for Development Economics Research Working paper 44

  • Booth, D (2011) Aid effectiveness: bringing country ownership (and politics) back in, ODI Working Paper 336

  • Easterly, W. and Tobias Pfutze, T. (2008) “Where Does the Money Go? Best and Worst Practices in Foreign Aid” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22, 2,

  • Gates, S and Hoeffler A. (2004) Global Aid Allocation: Are Nordic Donors Different? CSAE Working Paper 2004-34

  • Kharas, H. (2007) Trends and Issues in Development Aid, Wolfenson Center for Development Working Paper No 1

  • Keeley, B. (2012) From Aid to Development. The Global fight against poverty, OECD

  • Kihara, T. (2012) Effective Development Aid: Selectivity, Proliferation and Fragmentation, and the Growth Impact of Development Assistance, ADBI Working Paper, 342

  • Tingley, D. (2010) “Donors and domestic politics: Political influences on foreign aid effort”, The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance 50 (2010) 40–49


Enrollement through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

The student administration will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. R.T. Griffiths, email