International Urban Development Consultancy Project

Students on the MSc Cities and Global Development (as well as selected other MA/MSc programmes and the MPlan in Urban Studies and Planning) now have the opportunity to undertake a team-based consultancy project for an external client as part of their course. Through this project, they will apply the analytical tools and critical thinking skills they have gained to a ‘real world’ urban development problem.

Working in small teams of 4-5 people, students produce a report for a client that deals with a problem of policy or practice relevant to the client’s interests or activities. The specific focus of the projects is determined by clients, but will always relate to international development challenges with a particular urban dimension.

Through their work on this module (which is taught by both academic staff and professional development consultants), students engage with staff from the client organisation and conduct group-based and independent research and analysis, culminating in a team-written project report and individual critical reflection.

In the 2016-17 academic year, students worked on an exciting range of projects for client organisations such as the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Issues that student projects have focused on in recent years include the role of urban planners in post-disaster recovery situations, the dynamics of forced displacement in urban areas, strategic urban planning interventions to reduce urban pollution, and helping to develop strategic urban policy in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

When the project report is almost complete, students present their work to the client and engage with client feedback before finalising the group report and writing their personal critical reflection.

In the present (2017-18) year, students are working on projects for DFID, the think tank ODI (Overseas Development Institute), and the international consultancy firms Palladium Group and ICF International.

What our students had to say:

Anna Karaan

"The experience in writing a consultancy report was invaluable. The topic as well is highly relevant to future career prospects." - Anna Karaan is recent graduate of the MSc Cities and Global Development course who now works for UN-HABITAT in Barcelona.

Cheyanna O'Connor "This consultancy project based module gave me first hand experience of working with international organisations such as the Department of International Development and the Royal Institute of British Architects. I gained very useful experience in research project management and in conducting expert interviews with architects, town planners and aid workers. Participating in the module helped to contextualise the Masters into real world, highly topical situations and prepared me well for employment after completing the degree." - Cheyanna O'Connor is a recent graduate of the MSc Cities and Global Development course who now works for the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Previous students have worked on projects with:



International Rescue CommitteeResearch & Policy in Development