Introduction to International Cooperation for Development

The overall objective of the course is to provide trainees with basic skills involving the mechanisms of cooperation for development, including the design of projects and the strategy of Portuguese cooperation for development, seeking to articulate the practical component with the theory and current challenges.

This course is held in collaboration with UNAVE - Association for Vocational Training and Research of the University of Aveiro.

This training is based on the need for a greater level of knowledge about Portugal’s cooperation relations with third countries, namely its bilateral relations, especially with the PALOP countries and East Timor, and its multilateral relations with the European Union and the International Financial Institutions, among people who, for various reasons (some of them more altruistic, others more material) get involved in helping other people, whatever their country is. Such knowledge cannot grow without being seen in the context of the evolution of development thinking and the history of international cooperation, otherwise, we will not understand how relations between partners evolve over time and what the future prospects are.

This training is intended as an introduction, focusing on Portuguese cooperation with some thematic depth — but it is not intended to replace training in more specialised areas, such as programme and project management, cooperation in health, education, environment, governance and other related sectoral areas.

But, above all, we are conscious that this and other training courses cannot replace the practice of cooperation actions carried out in partner countries with commitment, reflection and awareness of the reasons, values and processes of each one, individually.

Aims of the course

The overall objective of this course is to provide trainees with basic skills involving the mechanisms of cooperation for development, including the design of projects and the strategy of Portuguese cooperation for development.

At the end of the course, the trainees will have gained understanding and knowledge about: the basic tools of cooperation for development; the basic skills to implement a cooperation project for development; the main strategies and approaches of Portuguese cooperation for development.

In this action, trainees are also expected to develop the ability to search for and process quantitative information existing in relevant international and national databases.

Course structure and teaching methods

This action will focus on the following Topics: 

Topic 1

  • Basic concepts and definitions of Cooperation and Development.

Topic 2

  • Brief history of cooperation;
  • Typology of Cooperation: bilateral, multilateral, public and private, decentralised, technical, financial, civil-military, etc., conditionality.

Topic 3

  • Individual and collective motivations, ethics and values.


Session 1: Debate session - Cooperation in a Pandemic Context


Topic 4

  • The paradigms of cooperation;
  • The Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Topic 5

  • The organizational state models in the OECD and the recipient countries.

Topic 6

  • The General Cooperation System - a new methodology for synthesis reading.

Topic 7

  • The construction of indicators in Development and Cooperation.

Topic 8

  • Multilateral Cooperation in the European Union;
  • The evolution of the ACP Agreements and the Africa-European Union Summits.

Topic 9

  • Multilateral Cooperation at the World Bank, Regional Banks and UN agencies.

Topic 10

  • Bilateral North-South and South-South Cooperation;
  • The bilateral cooperation strategies of European countries.


Session 2: Debate Session - Inequalities and Cooperation


Topic 11

  • The Evolution of Portuguese Cooperation.

Topic 12

  •  Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): what are they and their history in Cooperation.

Topic 13

  • The role of NGOs in cooperation.

Topic 14

  • NGDO responses to criticisms and challenges.

Topic 15

  • Large international NGOs.

Topic 16

  • International public and private funding.

Topic 17

  • Funding in Portugal.


Session 3: Debate Session - Civil Society, Innovation and Development


Topic 18

  • The history and models of evaluation.

Topic 19

  • Examples of project evaluation.

Topic 20

  • Introduction to project management.

Topic 21

  • Partnership concepts and practices.

Topic 22

  • Delegated Cooperation: critical definitions and examples.

Topic 23

  • The future scenarios of Portuguese International Cooperation in a post-pandemic context.


The methodology of the courses will follow the E-Learning concept, which is a training system where all the teaching materials and lessons are transmitted at distance and made available through a computer platform (in this case, the Moodle platform).

Eventually, it may be complemented with some conferences or seminars that require the physical presence of trainees residing in the country, which will be recorded and made available offline as course materials.

One of the comparative advantages of these courses is that they can be followed by trainees interested in a schedule flexibility, whether they reside in Portugal or in countries with different time zones. The way of communication between all participants is asynchronous and it is not mandatory that trainees and trainers are online at the same time. This means that the trainees can work at the most convenient time for them, and the assessment methods are adapted to this requirement.

The course provides the following materials available online:

  • Course sheet with the curricular plan, assessment methodology, basic bibliography and other guidelines;
  • At least one presentation lecture/seminar, the other ones with the topics of the subject being taught with the remaining materials;
  • PowerPoint presentations, videos or short films;
  • Support texts for reading and/or consultation, including electronic addresses where they can be found outside the platform.

Course duration

Weekly duration: 4-6 hours

Tuition fee

300 €


Students can choose to be assessed in two different ways:

Students in the Continuous Assessment Regime: a written assignment throughout the year with the assistance of teachers, that is worth 60% of the final grade. And an individual test of limited duration with consultation, worth 40%. Alternatively, students can take the assessments of at least 90% of the subjects that are made available by the teachers when they are taught. The final grade is the arithmetic average of the all the assessments, weighted by the number of assessments requested.

Students in the Mixed Assessment Regime: three individual tests, two written tests worth 50% of the final grade, of limited duration made online, with consultation, and another consisting in the composition of a written paper to be published online, if its quality is good enough. The article to be published can be written using the rules of the CESA's Project Dictionary of Portuguese Cooperation - available at: — or for an international or national magazine to be proposed by the teacher or student.

Students in the Final Assessment Regime: written test worth 100% of the final grade and of limited duration, to be held online at the end of the course.

The qualitative and quantitative classification will follow the following 0 to 20 grade scale:

  • EXCELLENT: from 18 to 20 values
  • VERY GOOD: 16 to 17 out of 17
  • GOOD: 14 to 15
  • SUFFICIENT: 10 to 13 out of 13
  • INSUFFICIENT: 0 to 9


The accreditation of this course with 6 ECTS and the final certification of the trainees are the responsibility of UNAVE / UINFO - Integrated Unit of Continuing Education from the University of Aveiro.