There are many options in the development criteria, the two main consist of OS Development (Roms) and Application Development.
Judging by what you're stating, I think you're trying to work towards OS Development? Correct me if I'm wrong.
I know I'm being a bit cheap by not typing out everything needed, as I will have to put some time into that... But the official CyanogenMod wiki shows you how to set up a building environment on Mac, Windows and Linux.
From there they explain in detail on what shell commands you must use to run exploits and such. They also explain what specific components and files do and how you can modify and update them from what I have previously seen. The site also shows you how to build a ROM for your device itself, using the CyanogenMod source of course, the method applies to all source to be honest.
Here's a link to the website - http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Main_Page
If this wasn't what you were asking for let me know so I can explain furthermore.
Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
iOS7 Kik Messenger | Svelte UI CM11 Theme | Active Launcher