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Unit information: EPM Consultancy Project in 2015/16

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Unit name EPM Consultancy Project
Unit code GEOGM0026
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 required EPM units



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit brings a practical dimension to the EPM programme by providing an opportunity for students to work in small teams to address real life environmental 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 Centre for Public Engagement, 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 environmental policy and management consultants.

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

(i) Developing tools and techniques for problem framing and analysis in response to a client brief;

(ii) Experience in planning, managing and delivering a research project as part of a team;

(iii) Enhanced professional communications skills;

(iv) The development reflective skills, particularly with regard to strategic thinking and teamwork.

Intended Learning Outcomes

(a) Insight into the challenges and dynamics of environmental management/policy in practice;

(b) An understanding of a range of tools and techniques for problem framing and analysis;

(c) Hands-on experience of negotiating, managing and delivering a client brief;

(d) An understanding of the process of planning, managing and delivering a collective research project;

(e) An enhanced capacity to communicate research, and proposed actions emerging from research, in an effective manner, both in writing and oral presentation;

(f) A critical, reflective approach to consultancy practice.

Teaching Information

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 Information

50% final presentation & research report of no more than 10,000 words (all students in each group receive the same mark). ILOs (a)-(e).

25% Case study analysis of a policy or management reform episode OR critique of a policy document (max 1500 words, due in week 10, to be marked individually). ILOs (b), (e) & (f).

15% peer assessment (to mitigate free-riding and encourage critical reflection on teamwork). ILOs (d) & (f).

10% client feedback (a standardised survey regarding professional conduct, communication and degree of success in satisfying the TOR). ILOs (e) & (f).

Reading and References

E. Bardach, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis (London: CQ Press/Sage, 2012)

C. R. Cook, Just Enough Project Management (McGraw-Hill, 2004);

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

Office for Government Commerce, Common Causes of Project Failure (London: OGC, 2004)

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

J. E. McGrath and F. Tschan, Dynamics in Groups and Teams: Groups as Complex Action Systems, chapter three in M. S. Poole and A. H. Van de Ven (eds) Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (Oxford University Press, 2004).