DV453      Half Unit
International Development Consultancy Project

This information is for the 2020/21 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 (10 places). MSc Development Studies students must take either DV458 or DV428 to be able to apply for a place on DV453.

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 coach.

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 one group work session lasting up to three hours.


9 hours of lectures and 3 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%, 10000 words), reflective learning report (10%) and group presentation (10%) in the LT.

Consultancy group project report (6000 minimum-10000 maximum 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 - individual mark element - is based on personal performance assessed through 360-degree reporting and coach 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

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 34.9
Merit 62.7
Pass 2.5
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2019/20: 101

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information