Latin American Development from Independence to the Present ESH5060

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will consider some of the main trends and themes in the economic development of Latin America. The issues to be explored are the role of geography, the environment, factor endowments, institutions, policies and international factors, in the long run development path of Latin America. We will consider the protracted character of Latin America's inequality and political instability, the macroeconomics of industrialisation, the political economic nature of Latin American populism, the recurrent financial crises and persistent macroeconomic instability. The course will critically evaluate the concept that Latin America 'fell behind' the US in terms of economic growth and political stability, applying broader theories of (under)development to Latin America throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.


The course will meet once a week, for two hours, during the semester

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to MSc programmes: An Upper Second Class degree or equivalent

Excluded Courses





The students are organised in groups for a seminar presentation, which receives formative feedback from peers and the teacher. On the basis of the formative feedback they then work as a group to produce an essay, each contributing approximately 750 words. The essay grade counts for 25% of their grade.  

One 3,000-word essay 75%.

Course Aims

The course aims to assess the main trends and themes in Latin America's economic development and the regional and international factors which contributed towards it. It will critically review scholarly debates about Latin American development in the 19th and 20th centuries and consider the applicability of theories of (under)development to the region's history. It will address Latin America's 'development puzzle': resource wealth with poor socio-economic indicators.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Examine and assess the dominant interpretations of Latin American development based on arguments about the region's geography, environment and factor endowments, the role of institutions and policies.

2. Critically evaluate the applicability of different theories of (under)development to the case of Latin American throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

3. Recognise the main trends and themes in the evolution of Latin America's economies and consider the regional and international factors which contributed towards them.

4. Identify the key long run political, economic and social factors which interact to create the 'puzzle' of Latin America development: resource wealth with poor socio-economic indicators.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.