Introduction to Human Development

Course description:

This course will examine topic of Human Development from the viewpoint of the Human Development and Capability Approach. It starts off with the human development paradigm and the notion that human development should be about expanding the prosperity of human life, rather than simply the wealth of the economy in which people live; which can be achieved through creating fair opportunities and choices for all people. This is an alternative approach to a single focus on economic growth, with more emphasis on social justice as a way of understanding progress. This course will be divided into four units: an introductory unit, a second unit that looks into the dimensions of human development, a third unit which considers the issue of measurement and a final unit that reflects on the subject of sustainability in human development.

In the introductory unit, the course will review theoretical and conceptual issues; the discussion will be on freedom, capability, and justice among others. The second unit goes into the issue of operationalising the human development and capability approach to better understand human development. The readings in the unit present an argument that human development is “multidimensional”, along with an exploration of the dimensions which encompass human development. Also, what is meant by multidimensional is covered in this unit; including questions such as what is a dimension? What are the various dimensions which are relevant? And what is the relative importance of each dimension?  This is followed by the third unit which provides a critical take on the issue of measurement, and focuses on measures such as the MPI and the HDI.  In the fourth and final unit, the topic of sustainable human development (which is concerned with widening choices of people not only of the present generation, but future generations as well) is discussed. Existing linkages between the two broad concepts of human development and sustainability of human development are explored. Through a practical discussion of the MDGs and SDGs, both topics will be scrutinised and examined.

Key concepts:

Human development; freedom and justice; Sen’s capability approach: functionings, capabilities, and agency; multidimensionality; sustainable human development.

Learning goals:

The course introduces students to the conceptual and theoretical frameworks necessary for approaching the complexities of human development and its linkages to other important concepts such as freedom, agency, and sustainability. Moreover, the course aims to provide a critical understanding of Sen’s capability approach and its operationalisation into a multidimensional measure.

4-week course, to be completed within an 8-week time period.

A Master degree (or equivalent) in Social Sciences

Estimated Workload:
60 hrs

Course Activities:
Online lectures, online discussion board, assignments, weekly tutorial meeting to discuss readings and assignments, and an oral exam.

ECTS equivalent credits obtained:
Participants will receive 2 ECTS equivalent credits, upon the successful completion of the course requirements, and oral exam. This certification will be offered through an online educational badge.

The course is completed once you fulfil the course requirements and pass the oral exam. Your coursebook will also include the explanation assignments and resit options.

500 euro

Required Readings:
The cost of the course does not include expenses for books or hard copies of the course material. Course materials can all be downloaded by the participant him/herself.

Starting date of the course:
Individually decided.
Upon successful enrolment, every participant will start the course on an individual basis, immediately after the acquisition of the course materials. Your tutor will reach out to you to agree on a timeline

Enrolment time:
Upon registration, you will be enrolled for 8 weeks, including 1 week to access the platform and become familiar with the materials, 4 weeks of coursework, 1 week to submit the final assignment and 3 weeks for potential resit time.
In case you prefer to use the 8 weeks in a different way, please agree with your tutor during your first exchange.

Upon registration, you will be requested to pay the tuition. Please make the transfer to the following account. Upon payment, you will be registered as student, and contacted by your tutor. On average this takes 1-2 weeks.

Bank account no.
IBAN NL05 INGB 0657 618705
Swift or BIC code INGBNL2A
Beneficiary Maastricht University
Bank name ING Business Banking
Bank address P.O. Box 90153
5600 RE  Eindhoven
The Netherlands
Payment specification your last name and