Course Title: International NGOs, civil society and development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: International NGOs, civil society and development

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning

Distance / Correspondence or Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Distance / Correspondence or Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2008


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Charles Hunt

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 3074

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.05.23

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course you will engage with the theory and practice of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in development. NGOs are viewed as key players within what is known as ‘civil society’. The role of civil society in development has taken on increasing significance, in large part due to ideas about the reduced role of the state, and issues of governance and democracy in a globalised world. You will consider the comparative advantage of values and roles of NGOs, the partnerships they form, how they facilitate capacity development, their organisational management, legitimacy and accountability, and their future opportunities. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes 

This course contributes to the development of the following program learning outcomes:

  • Critically reflect on socio-cultural diversity and values, world systems and the benefits of local and global development practices for communities engaged in development processes 
  • Determine and apply the specialist knowledge and technical skills required to creatively solve problems, demonstrating expert judgment and ethical responsibility in your professional practice in international development 
  • Critically analyse, synthesize and reflect on personal awareness and lived experience, theories and practices of development, both local and international, to extend and challenge knowledge and practice in the discipline 
  • Critically reflect on the causes and impacts of poverty in global contexts and to evaluate the theories and practice of development institutions 

Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse and review the theoretical perspectives and debates about NGOs, and civil society more broadly, to practice and policy situations. 
  2. Describe NGO values and roles and evaluate how they affect NGO engagement in development.
  3. Compare and contrast competing theoretical perspectives about NGOs’ relationships with states, market, other NGOs and communities and discuss how these relationships might be strengthened. 
  4. Reflect on and apply your knowledge of the comparative advantage of NGOs’ in development practice.
  5. Identify key components of NGOs’ organisational structure and management and, in light of these, develop strategies to enhance their effectiveness in service delivery. 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in learning that involves a range of face to face and online activities such as lectures; class activities; case study analysis; analysis of documentaries (including small group work), guest lectures, and discussions. 

You are expected to read the course materials available on-line and refer to additional reading material in your assessment tasks. It is advisable to take notes as you read and constantly reflect on the questions raised. This reflection could, for example, take the form of brief written response or posting a message on on-line discussion board. You are encouraged to liaise with the course lecturer and ask questions about particular topics, readings or assessment tasks. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning. 

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 


Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.  

Assessment Tasks 

1. Participation and Collaboration Reflection (Word count: 600) 

Contribute to collaborative online activities and discussions, engaging with other students to collaborate in debating and researching course content (Weighting: 20%) 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3 and 4 


2. Research Report (Word count: 1,500) 

Exploratory Research Report is intended to enable you to begin developing your learning in the course and to develop your ability to connect and synthesize key learning objectives from the course (weighting 30%) 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. 

3. Research Essay (Word count: 2,500) 

Research Essay is intended to enable you to demonstrate your learning in the course and to develop your ability to connect and synthesize key learning objectives from the course (weighting 50%) 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks. 

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more. 

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.