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World Development A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

The subject has never been more relevant and valuable than it is today as governments and individuals come under pressure to think in international as well as in national terms.  You will gain an insight into the social, political, and economic dimensions of International Development and develop an awareness of the interdependence that exists between developed and developing countries. You will also study the nature of poverty, inequality, development and aid at local, national and international levels.

World Development A Level will provide you with the opportunity to think critically about how development, and development projects, work. You look at the different visions of what ‘development’ can mean and the many challenges to achieving social justice, raising standards of living and eliminating poverty globally.

Key aspects during your first year of study, include a comparison of large scale, top-down development projects with local level, bottom-up strategies; an examination of the causes of poverty along with initiatives to reduce the inequality experienced by marginalised groups. In the second year you will study the impact of cultural and religious diversity, conflict and population change on development, as well as considering the importance of education projects, the role of women and migration on the development process.

The course opens opportunities for you to make a real difference in the world and to develop a range of skills valued by employers, including the ability to analyse data, prepare reports, presentation skills, and work as part of a team.

Course content

Unit 1 Introduction to Development - Exam

You will consider how our use of resources to meet basic human needs affects physical and human environments; the idea that global citizenship and global responsibility require people to consider the costs and benefits of development in their own as well as other countries; and the ways in which governments, international agencies, large businesses, pressure groups or non-governmental organisations may approach the management of natural resources and development in different ways, and as a result pose different solutions.

In addition you will assess how the poverty and inequality experienced by particular groups in society is affected by their access or entitlement to resources, as well as factors such as gender, ethnicity, age or disability, and consider how the negative images and stereotypes held by dominant groups in society may help to create and reinforce poverty and inequality.  You will evaluate different strategies adopted to address poverty and inequality and investigate how international initiatives may raise awareness of, and can create a momentum for, action to reduce poverty and inequality.


Unit 2 – Coursework

You will produce a critical analysis of three separate news articles relating to development and resource management, summarising the issues discussed, identifying any bias in the writing and stating your own opinions on the topic. You will also write an essay comparing the poverty and inequality experienced by two different social groups.

Unit 3 Concepts and Processes of Development – Exam

This unit introduces you to the idea that development is a contested concept which has evolved over time and evaluates a number of contrasting approaches to development, such as modernisation, neoliberalism, dependency theory, grassroots and participatory development.   The unit also provides you with a detailed study of social factors influencing development and well being, including population growth, the impact and management of disease, access to education for women and children, respect for human rights, and the assimilation and integration of different ethnic groups within a society.


Unit 4 The Individual Report – Coursework

You will produce a 3000 word report on a topic of your own choice, linked to an issue studied in the course and written for an organisation actively involved in the development process.  Your report will present and analyse evidence relating to your topic and make clear and realistic recommendations for future actions that could be taken based on your findings. 

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C or above in appropriate subjects, ideally with at least a grade B for English Language.  Successful A Level students would normally have achieved a grade A or B in a number of relevant GCSE subjects.


Methods of Study will include formal lectures; workshops; research activities; discussion and debate; group and individual presentations; problem solving; reading, note taking and essay writing.  In addition opportunities to hear outside speakers and take part in international fieldtrips to destinations such as Toronto, Morocco and Swaziland have been previously available.

Formal Assessment will be based on both external examinations and coursework. The first year’s assessment leads to the stand alone AS Level qualification, and also contributes 50% of the marks towards the overall A Level.

Unit 1 – WD1 Examination, consisting of four structured questions, two on each of the themes in Introduction to Development. This is a two hour paper at the end of the first year of study. (70% of the first year assessment)

Unit 2 – WD2 Coursework portfolio, produced during the first year, including an analysis of three articles on development and resource management, each up to 500 words and a comparative essay of up to 1000 words on poverty and inequality. (30% of the first year assessment)

Unit 3 – WD3 Concepts and processes of development are assessed by an examination consisting of three structured questions based on unseen sources, an essay on perspectives of development and an essay from a choice on the social development themes in this unit. This is a three hour paper at the end of the second year of study (70% of the second year assessment).

Unit 4 – WD4 The individual report is an investigation of up to 3000 words on a topic of your choice and interest from anywhere in the course, produced during the second year of the course. (30% of the second year assessment)

Future opportunities

International Development, Sustainable Development and International Relations are all well established university courses which build on the knowledge and skills acquired from A Level World Development, and provide a stepping stone onto a wide range of careers, including those in the international development field itself,  with organisations such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Oxfam, Action Aid, Save the Children, and Global Vision, both in the UK and overseas.

You will develop a range of transferable skills, valued by employers, such as problem solving; working to deadlines; independent research and analysis; project management; cross-cultural sensitivity; decision making; self-awareness and organisational awareness; written and oral communication; IT and time management.  These would benefit most higher education courses, and could lead to a variety of careers.

World Development is also an excellent subject to complement courses in disciplines such as, modern languages, anthropology, geography, international law, economics, politics, sociology, resource management and history.

Further information

You will be supported throughout your A Level with personalised feedback and 1:1 reviews, enabling you to develop the skills required for success at this stage of your education and beyond.  You will also be encouraged to make full use of the extensive range of A Level and undergraduate level resources available within the department and online, to foster your natural curiosity in current affairs, international and humanitarian issues.  As the course progresses you will be able to read widely around the subject, challenge your understanding of development issues and to broaden your views on global issues.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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