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Unit information: Consultancy Project in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Consultancy Project
Unit code GEOGM0029
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Fox
Open unit status Not open

Completion of 3 M Level Units



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit brings a practical dimension to postgraduate study by providing an opportunity for students to work in small teams to address real life policy and management challenges facing external clients, including public, private and non-profit organisations.

In brief, the Unit Director, in collaboration with Cabot Institute and the Public Engagement Team, will solicit project proposals from external clients. These will be vetted by the Unit Director and then presented to students as options. Projects will be allocated to small teams of 3-5 students based upon student preferences. Over the course of the term, students will negotiate a terms of reference, undertake research, produce a report and make a final presentation to their assigned clients. This research component of the course will be complimented by a seminar series oriented around critical reflection on the key skills required by policy and management consultants.

Overall, the unit aims to give students the skills required to become effective influencers. Specific unit objectives include:

  • Developing tools and techniques for problem framing and analysis in response to a client brief;
  • Experience in planning, managing and delivering a research project as part of a team;
  • Enhanced professional communications skills;
  • The development reflective skills, particularly with regard to strategic thinking and teamwork.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will have achieved:

  1. Insight into the challenges and dynamics of environmental management/policy in practice;
  2. An understanding of a range of tools and techniques for problem framing and analysis;
  3. Hands-on experience of negotiating, managing and delivering a client brief;
  4. An understanding of the process of planning, managing and delivering a collective research project;
  5. An enhanced capacity to communicate research, and proposed actions emerging from research, in an effective manner, both in writing and oral presentation;
  6. A critical, reflective approach to consultancy practice.

Teaching details

Teaching will consist of 5 seminars covering practical topics for consultants, including: negotiating a TOR, project management, policy analysis, effective teamwork and communicating for impact. These will be supplemented with 3-4 guest seminars hosted by practitioners and a facilitated reflection seminar for each group at the end of the project cycle.

Assessment Details

25% - final presentation (all students in each group receive the same mark). [ILOs 1-5]

50% - final research report of no more than 10,000 words (all students in each group receive the same mark). [ILOs 1-5]

10% - client feedback (a standardised survey regarding professional conduct, communication and degree of success in satisfying the TOR. Each student in the group will receive the same mark). [ILOs 5 and 6]

15% - peer assessment (to mitigate free-riding and encourage critical reflection on teamwork. Individual mark). [ILOs 4 and 6]

Reading and References

Key texts:

E. Bardach & E.M. Patashnik (2016) A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis, Fifth Edition. London: CQ Press/Sage. [Seven copies are available in the Geography collection in Wills]

Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, Survival Guide (London: July 2004).

UN Economic Commission for Europe (2009) Making Data Meaningful, Geneva: United Nations.

Recommended texts:

HM Treasury, The Magenta Book: Guidance for evaluation (London: 2011).

R. Pawson (2006) Evidence-based Policy: A Realist Perspective, London: Sage.

E. Tufte (2001) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press USA.