DV453      Half Unit
International Development Consultancy Project

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Ernestina Coast CON.8.15

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 (5 places allocated by ballot amongst applicants). MSc Development Studies students must take DV458 in order to be able to apply for a place on DV453. They will only be able to join teams working on health-related topics and will be coached by colleagues associated with the Health and International Development MSc.

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 consultancy team project for an external 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 and Lent Terms with support from a staff coach.

Students are allocated to consultancy teams usually comprising between three and six people. Students can express preferences for particular clients but may not be allocated to one of these. Past project clients 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 roster of clients and projects changes every year.

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.

There are 3 MT (skills) lectures, one MT panel on ‘Working with Diversity’ plus 1 MT workshop [the inception report presentations] each  lasting up to three hours.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and workshops. Up to 12 hours of lectures and up to 3 hours of workshops in the MT.

This course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will contribute to the Group reports and presentations (inception and final) and will be given feedback and indicative grades for each of these. 

Indicative reading

There is no specific reading for this course as this will reflect the specific project Terms of Reference that students work to.


Project (80%, 10000 words), reflective learning report (10%) and group presentation (10%) in the LT.

Written group project report (80%, 10,000 words), individual project diaries and 360 degree reporting (10%) and group final presentation (10%) in the LT.

The written group project report averages 8,000 words (6,000 minimum -10,000 maximum words depending on the client's terms of reference and student group size) and is submitted at the end of Lent Term. It counts for 80% of the final mark.

Individual diaries plus individual performance assessed through 360-degree student reporting and the coach’s own assessment contribute to an individual mark element for all students. This counts for 10% of the final grade.

The consultancy group presentation to the client and a coach at the end of Lent Term contribute the remaining 10% of the final grade.

Final client presentations are at the end of the Lent Term and are scheduled by the students in consultation with academic staff and the client. Students should be aware that presentations to clients may have to take place in the week after the end of LT, and students should plan accordingly and be available to participate if required.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 52.2
Merit 45.1
Pass 2.6
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 118

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information