LOJK10291U Introduction to Consultancy

Volume 2014/2015
MSc Programme in Agriculture

This course is about consultancy - the practice of helping organizations to solve a particular problem and improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing problems, provision of professional or expert advice, and development of plans for improvement. This course gives insight into the personal and professional competencies needed for becoming a successful consultant, independent of whether the focus is within business consulting or more sector specific consultancy, e.g., within agriculture, environment and nature, climate and energy, physical planning, or development assistance. In the course we will apply a constructivist perspective and introduce systemic thinking as a framework for understanding and analyzing real-life situations. Moreover, the course will address the following main topics: the consultant, the consultant-client relationship, the cultural dimension, management of change, business understanding, teams, project management and leadership, and communication. In addition, participants are provided with a basic insight into the consultancy sector and business management aspects of the consultancy industry. The course will introduce the consulting process, including how to a) identify and develop project opportunities, b) establish and manage a consultant team, c) manage the solution development process, and d) deliver the solution to the client. Participants will be introduced to a number of tools from the consultant toolbox, and we aim to develop students’ ability to critically design a consultant process in collaboration with other specialists in an interdisciplinary team.

Learning Outcome

The aim of this course is to provide the participants with an insight into consulting practice. This will prepare the students for a career where they apply their specialist knowledge in the consulting sector, or it will enable the students to apply and/or evaluate consulting approaches as specialists, decision makers, manager, or change agents in other types of organisations. We aim to provide students with a basic business understanding and personal skills that enable them to engage in the development of customer-focused and creative problems-solving processes that integrate technical, economic and social aspects. 

At the end of the course the students will have:
knowledge to:

  • Express a fundamental understanding of consultancy firm management, including employer-employee relations, business strategy, and financial and operational management   
  • Identify critical aspects of consultant-client relationship, culture, and change management in relation to the consulting process
  • Reflect about the role of the consultant and the importance of different interpersonal skills
  • Reflect about different consultancy approaches and the relation between task context and choice of approach

skills to:

  • Critically analyse a problem situation in collaboration with a client, identify the necessary information, and develop a project proposal 
  • Select and apply consulting tools and approaches taking into consideration the complexity of the task, available resources, and objectives
  • Apply basic project management skills in an disciplinary team context and integrate different specialists and knowledge areas in effective, goal-oriented teamwork

competencies to:

  • Cooperate in interdisciplinary teams and contribute to the development of strategies and action plans for problem-solving in new and complex situations
  • Take responsibility for and manage a task analysis and solution development process under due consideration of customer as well as employer perspectives, expectations and available resources
  • Communicate, in speech and writing, a project proposal or project plan to a customer, and constructively engage in negotiating and integrating customer feedback
  • Critically assess the quality of a consultant’s project proposal
  • Make ethical consideration about consulting practice and reflect on code of conduct and ethical guidelines  

The course will be based on scientific articles and key references on a) consult firm management, b) culture, change management and teamwork, and c) consultancy tools and approaches.

The course is mainly project-based, but it also includes e-lectures, traditional lectures and guest lectures, workshops, exercises, and excursions. We aim to create a learning environment where the participants can apply specialist knowledge related to their individual study programmes in an interdisciplinary context. We aim to develop the participants’ personal competencies through the opportunity to apply introduced theories and tools in practice, thereby enhancing students’ enterprising behaviour, creativity, and innovativeness. The course is offered in collaboration with the international multidisciplinary consultancy company NIRAS; a company with over 1300 employees located in offices in Europe, Asia and Africa. NIRAS will challenge the course participants with a real-life consultant task. Participants will be grouped in interdisciplinary teams and will be developing and documenting in a project proposal a solution to the task applying the consulting process framework under supervision of course teachers and NIRAS employees.
The course is offered in collaboration with the international multidisciplinary consultancy company NIRAS.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Guidance
  • 10
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 110
  • Theory exercises
  • 24
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral defence, 20 min.
The oral examination is based on an individual presentation of the team’s project proposal, and an oral examination in project content and course curriculum.

Final grade weights: Individual contribution to group project proposal report 30%. Written proposal review and individual process reflection report 30%. Individual presentation of project proposal and oral exam 40%.
Exam registration requirements
Participation in the group-based project work. Project proposal and review report on another group’s project graded as 'passed'.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Oral examination.
Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome