DV453      Half Unit
Humanitarian Consultancy Project

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Rachel Ibreck


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is available on the MSc in African Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This unit is a core course for the MSc IDHE. Students work on a consultancy report in Michaelmas Term and Lent Terms.

Students will gain practical experience of dealing with current policy issues and best practice in the fields of humanitarian assistance or international development by working on a live consultancy team project for a real client and an historical case study of a major humanitarian emergency. The consultancies are based around an experiential learning format. Students also receive guidance through a series of three workshops in the Michaelmas Term and a supervision process.

Students will be allocated to consultancy teams comprising between three and five people. Students are able to express preferences for particular clients but may not be allocated to one of these. Past project sponsors have included the UK Department of International Development (DFID), the ICRC, MSF, the Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC), Christian Aid, the UK Stabilisation Unit and NATO.

The consultancy project begins in Michaelmas Term with client reports due at the end of Lent Term. The client report and final presentation form part of the assessment.

Consultancy Skills Workshops -  There will be a series of three skills-oriented lecture and group work sessions (each lasting three hours). Students will also be expected to attend a one-day workshop covering  logframes,monitoring and evaluation and other relevant practitioner skills in Michaelmas Term (usually held on the Saturday between weeks 4 and 5).

Academic Component - The individual essay will require students to critically review selected academic literature relevant to their consultancy project.


9 hours of lectures and 6 hours of workshops in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will contribute to the Group inception, interim and final reports/presentations and will be given feedback and indicative grades for each of these. At the end of Michaelmas Term there is a progress board for each consultancy group.

Indicative reading

John Rowley and Frances Rubin, 'Effective Consultancies in Development and Humanitarian and Humanitarian Programmes' (Oxfam: Oxford: 2006); Michael Bamberger, Jim Rugh and Linda Mabry, 'Real World Evaluation: working Under Budget, Time, Data and Political Constraints' (Sage: London, 2012);

Michael Quinn Patton, 'Utilization Focused Evaluation' 4th Edition (Sage: London, 2008);

Michael Edwards and Alan Fowler, 'NGO Management' (Earthscan: Oxford, 2002);

Eric James 'Managing Humanitarian Relief: An Operational Guide for NGOs' (Practical Action Publishing: Rugby, 2008)


Project (75%, 6000 words) and presentation (5%) in the LT.
Essay (20%, 1500 words) in the MT.

Individual 1500 word essay (critical review): (20%) in week 1 of Lent Term

Consultancy group project report (6000-10000 words depending on the client's terms of reference and student group size) (75%), submitted at the end of Lent Term

Consultancy group presentation to clients: (5%) at the end of Lent Term

Final client presentations are at the end of the Lent Term and are scheduled by the students in consultation with academic staff AND the clients. Students should be aware that presentations to clients MAY have to take place during the first week of Easter Vacation. They will be informed as soon as possible, but should not make any travel plans until presentation dates are confirmed.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information