DV453      Half Unit
International Development Consultancy Project

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stuart Gordon CON.8.10


This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Health and International Development and MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is not available as an outside option.

Places for MSc Development Studies students requesting to take this course as an option are strictly limited.

Course content

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. The consultancies are based around an experiential learning format. Students receive guidance through a structured supervision process and work on the consultancy report in Michaelmas Term and Lent Terms with support from a staff mentor.

Students are 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), UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA,  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 up to three basic skills-oriented lectures and group work sessions (each lasting up to three hours).


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

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will contribute to the Group inception 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 (80%, 6000 words), reflective learning report (10%) and presentation (10%) in the LT.

Consultancy group project report (6000-10000 words depending on the client's terms of reference and student group size), submitted at the end of Lent Term (80%).

The reflective learning report is personal performance assessed through 360-degree reporting and mentor assessment (10%).

Consultancy group presentation to clients: (10%) 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.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 21.7
Merit 77.2
Pass 1.1
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2018/19: 100

Average class size 2018/19: 38

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information