Sustainability Consulting Project

Module description

Sustainability consulting is a rapidly growing field.  Many established consulting firms and independent consultants are seeing sustainability as a new way of adding value and improving efficiency for client organisations.  This module introduces you to the field of applied sustainability consulting.              

Internationalisation:  Included in this module are two days of lectures on management consultancy which is relevant across countries.

External Engagement:  You will engage with companies for the consulting projects These may include Lafarge, British Telecom, IBM, Virgin, Coca Cola, The Co-op, Canon, and Thompson Reuters.

Employability:  You will gain valuable experience from the consulting projects which is highly beneficial for future employability.

Full module specification

Module title:Sustainability Consulting Project
Module code:MBAM811
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Nicolas Forsans - Lecturer
Module credit:24
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:

1.5 days

Duration (weeks) - term 3:

3 days (+ 10 hours 1:1 supervision)

Module aims

Sustainability consulting is a rapidly growing field. Many established consulting firms and independent consultants are seeing sustainability as a new way of adding value and improving efficiency for client organisations. This module introduces students to the field of applied sustainability consulting. The module will develop an understanding of the principles, tools and processes involved through a ‘handson’ live project with an external organisation. It will be a practical experience designed to develop consultancy and other transferable skills. It will be organised around an individual consultancy assignment with a real client addressing a real sustainability issue. The module will require students to deconstruct and negotiate a project task, apply a range of frameworks to structure analytical thinking, apply techniques to complete the required research, and demonstrate effective communication skills in delivering the final results to their client. The principles of effective consultancy and project management will be introduced alongside barriers to successful intervention and how consultants manage risk.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Articulate the nature of consulting for business sustainability, clients and the consulting process.
  • 2. Manage relationships with a client - including managing risk, productive relationships, expectations, handling problems, barriers to implementation, evaluation.
  • 3. Understand the protocols, expectations and outcomes of engaging with organisations as clients.
  • 4. Understand soft-systems methodologies to help structured thinking, and the techniques for effective project management.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Conduct research into sustainability issues (including deciding on appropriate data collection methods, analysis and interpretation).
  • 6. Plan, manage and complete a consulting project to a brief, budget and timescale.
  • 7. Demonstrate effective relationship skills and professionalism.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Adapt and innovate to solve problems, and to manage in unpredictable situations and make sound judgements in the absence of complete data
  • 9. Effectively present information orally and in writing, and formulate and deliver logical and precise arguments.
  • 10. Use self-direction, initiative and planning in the context of independent learning and the management of a major project.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours35Lectures and Research Methods Workshop
101:1 Supervision

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion - group and 1:1Throughout the workshops and 1:1 meetings with supervisor1 - 11Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Consultancy proposal (individual)10%1000 words5-6Written feedback on report and grade
Consultancy report (individual)80%12,000 words1-4Written feedback on report and grade
Client assessment (individual)10%N/A7-10Written feedback and grade

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Consultancy report (Individual)Consultancy Report 12,000 words1-46 weeks from briefing

Syllabus plan

Workshops will cover: Introduction to consulting for business sustainability and the fields of specialism. Consulting as a profession and skill, and the role of a consultant. Key competencies for effective consulting. The process and cycle of consulting; the Boscard model; understanding client needs; appreciative inquiry; understanding the client organisation - stakeholders and the systems perspective. The characteristics and challenges of consulting in sustainability. Project management issues: causes of success and failure. Preparing to meet the client. Preparing the proposal. Consulting processes, negotiation and problem-solving. Systems thinking and soft-systems methodology for consulting. Developing insightfulness in consulting. Experiences on the receiving end – the client’s view.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Galea, C (2009) Consulting for Business Sustainability, Greenleaf Publishing.

Biggs, D (2010) Management Consulting: A Guide for Students, South-Western.

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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