Module code: MANM451

Module Overview

This course provides a framework (and multiple lenses) through which to think about the digital economy, with a special focus on international development. The module covers the fundamental aspects of digitalization and its socio-technical drivers for international development, using an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving. It provides research-led insights into latest developments, current issues and anticipated trends in the digital economy with emphasis on organizational changes, market dynamics, new digital technologies and social impact of digital disruption in light of salient economic and social problems in the developing world.

The module offers a critical and creative perspective on the digital economy as well as a hand-on experience into the use of digital technologies. It combines theory and case study examples from a variety of contexts and insight from practitioners and professionals in the field. It offers the students the opportunity to work on a real world project and to develop an appreciation of the developmental value of the digital economy in international settings.

During the course, students will divide into small teams to develop a digital economy solution that they can present to tackle a chosen problem in a specific developing country or region. Students will draw inspiration, lessons and critical notes from the wide range of examples and frameworks discussed through the course. The course also equips students with basic skills to develop their own digital presence, including a masterclass to craft their own project landing page, learn blogging skills and/or data visualization techniques.

Module provider

Surrey Business School

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 33

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative Content includes:

  • Foundations of digital economy and international development: digital technologies, digital divide, technological and human infrastructure

  • Implementing solutions to world problems with digital technologies

  • Digital social innovation, poverty and development

  • Digital economy, ICTs and economic growth

  • Digital platform ecosystems and international development

  • Digital governance and development

  • Responsible digitalization, open data and the ethics of artificial intelligence  

  • Current trends and future directions of digital economy and international development

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Group Project (3000 words) 60
Coursework Individual Essay (2500 words) 40

Alternative Assessment

Individual business plan (3000 words)

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate advanced understanding of the subject matter and mastery of the learning outcomes through practical application. The latter is assessed as an integrative collaborative project that showcases students’ subject-specific knowledge and cognitive skills as well as their practical ability to apply their learning to complex problems and tasks in the relevant domain of professional practice. The former is assessed through an individual essay applying the concepts of the course to reflect on the application of the chosen digital economy intervention (2500 words). The two elements of assessment are thus designed to complement each other.

Students who may need to re-sit the team assessment will have to work on a written plan similar to the content of the team project assignment.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Group project to develop a digital economy solution to tackle a real world problem 60%

  • Individual essay to reflect on the application of the solution (2,500 words) 40%

In the event that any student would not be able to contribute to the group project, they will be given an alternative assessment:

  • Alternative assessment: individual business plan (3,000 words) 60%

Formative assessment

Formative feedback is offered on an ongoing basis during seminars/group discussions, active learning sessions and project tutorials, which may be done face-to-face or online (synchronously).


Formative feedback is provided as detailed above.

Summative feedback is provided in writing, separately for each of the elements of assessment.

Module aims

  • Analyse the generic contribution of digital technologies to international development
  • Analyse the role of policy, strategy and operational interventions in promoting effective developmental use of digital technologies
  • Identify key roles, challenges and questions in the application of digital technologies to solve specific development goals
  • Apply critical conceptual frameworks to understand digital economy evidence and practice in the context of international development
  • Develop a critical understanding of the role played by new forms of organizing and data services in the digital economy in the developing world
  • Identify their own potential as digital innovators and to equip the students with basic digital skills to build a digital presence
  • Work in teams on a candidate entrepreneurial solution and demonstrate an appreciation of the trade-offs involved in embracing that solution

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate knowledge of digital technologies uses and applications to solve real world problems K
002 Analyse and structure effective digital technology based solutions for development CP
003 Demonstrate knowledge on the technological, social and economic principles that govern new forms of organizing in the digital economy KCP
004 Demonstrate knowledge of how digital platforms and new technologies evolve over time and contribute (or not) to development K
005 Think critically about the role of online user participation in the developing world CT
006 Appreciate the mechanisms, roles and effects of digital technologies for development KCT
007 Think critically and creatively about the challenge of applying digital economy solutions to world problems and its alternative course of actions CPT
008 Apply technical skills to use basic technologies to develop digital campaigns KCPT
009 Apply entrepreneurial design principles to organise and communicate a project KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed on the principles of project-based experiential pedagogy and thus combines research-informed academic content with applied learning through project work.

Learning and teaching is research-led and follows a student-focused, experiential, flipped-classroom methodology with online elements. It comprises lectures, seminars , group discussions, Masterclass sessions, study trips, practical platform design workshops and project tutorials. It includes active and self-directed learning-both group and individual. Prior to attending the lecture and seminar, students are expected to undertake the essential reading and complete any set work for the sessions.

The project work, which is the basis of both active learning and module assessment, is designed to give students the experience of working in an international and cross-cultural context. It is supported by engagement with practice through a study trip and a series of Masterclass sessions, which may include talks from guest practitioners, research seminars, webinars and company visits. Together with dedicated group project tutorials- run face-to face or online (synchronously) - these sessions are designed to support student learning project work providing formative feedback in preparation for the assessment.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures are mainly designed to illustrate and explain theoretical concepts and models.

  • Seminars/group discussions are designed to develop a more practical insight into the applied nature of the various topics covered: they help explore the theoretical concepts and models by reference to a range of topical issues and case studies.

  • Active learning includes engaging in classroom practical exercises, video and case analyses, and group project work.

  • Active learning through online study (synchronous and asynchronous);

  • Self-directed learning pertains to engaging with learning materials and undertaking desk research required for classroom participation and assessment.

  • Study trips are designed to allow students the opportunity to observe the phenomena they study in practice and engage with the relevant practice and practitioners in their own setting and context.

  • Masterclass sessions are there to support the student-led projects, which run throughout the duration of the module and are the basis for the module assessment. Masterclass sessions deal with current issues of direct relevance to student projects and are informed by the latest research and business practice.

  • Project tutorials support students in their project work through systematic review of progress, discussion and formative feedback from an academic tutor. These may run face-to face or online (synchronously).

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MANM451

Other information

Essential reading

Heeks, R. (2018) Information And Communication Technology For Development (ICT4D), Routledge, London

Koskinen K., Bonina C., Eaton B. (2019) Digital Platforms in the Global South: Foundations and Research Agenda. In: Nielsen P., Kimaro H. (eds) Information and Communication Technologies for Development. Strengthening Southern-Driven Cooperation as a Catalyst for ICT4D. ICT4D 2019. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, vol 551. Springer, Cham.

Osterwalder, Alexander, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith, and Trish Papadakos. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want . 1 edition. Wiley.2014.

Smith, M. L., Reilly, K. M. A., & Benkler, Y. (2014). Open Development: Networked

Innovations in International Development. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Recommended reading

Avgerou, C. (2017). Theoretical Framing of ICT4D Research. In J. Choudrie, M. S. Islam, F. Wahid, J. M. Bass, & J. E. Priyatma (Eds.), Information and Communication Technologies for Development (pp. 10–23). Springer International Publishing.

Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks. How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New haven (CT), Yale University Press.

Cusumano, M. A., Gawer, A., & Yoffie, D. B. (2019). The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power. HarperBusiness.

Graham, M. (Ed.). (2019). Digital Economies at Global Margins (1 edition). Cambridge, Massachusetts : Ottawa, ON, Canada: The MIT Press.

Khanna, Tarun and Krishna G Palepu. (2010). Winning in Emerging Markets: A Roadmap for Strategy and Execution. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Several other recommended pieces from main academic journals specifically operating in the digital economy and international development domain, such as:

The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries

Information Technologies & International Development

Information Technology for Development

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Management MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.