YMC-60809 Academic Consultancy Training


Credits 9.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work0
Course coordinator(s)JE Hofman
dr. VC Tassone
dr. S Wahlen
dr. PW de Jong
Lecturer(s)dr. S Wahlen
dr. VC Tassone
Examiner(s)dr. VC Tassone
dr. S Wahlen

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

Before applying for a position in an Academic Consultancy Training (ACT) project team, the student must have (disciplinary) knowledge in his/her field of study and should have successfully completed at least 12 but preferably 24 credits of MSc-level courses or a first MSc-thesis. Furthermore the student should master Information literacy, computer literacy and presentation skills on minimally the level of the MOS-modules; English verbal and writing skills should be on a level which allows full contribution to the ACT project and process development and full independent functioning in a student team.


Note: For information about ACT registration deadlines and other details for enrolling to the ACT course see: https://actregistration.wur.nl/
The Academic Consultancy Training course is a 9 ECTS course which starts each period (except period 4) of the year. Period 3 and 4 is a combined period (the two weeks of the re-exams between period 3 and 4 are not scheduled for ACT). ACT is an eight week course scheduled in the mornings of weeks 1-3 and week 8 (the last week), and full time during weeks 4-7.
In the ACT course, teams of 5 to 7 students are assigned to execute an inter-disciplinary driven consultancy project for an external commissioner (for example governmental, private and civil society organizations). These consultancy teams are composed on the basis of required disciplinary mix for the execution of the project and the interests students have expressed in an application letter. In their application letter students indicate what their disciplinary knowledge will add to the execution of the project. Each team has an assigned process coach and a content coach/academic advisor relevant to the project.
The multidisciplinary and preferably multicultural team will carry out a design type project for their commissioner. This might be the design of new technologies, policy papers, business strategies, regional development arrangements, communication plans or draft research plans for integrated research programmes. Crucial is that teams reach an interdisciplinary synthesis of the compiled information in consultation with the commissioner, and translate this into an advice on future actions for their commissioner.
The ACT course is scheduled in such a way that you can combine the course with MOS modules. Be aware there are different versions of ACT like Entrepreneurial ACT (E-ACT) and Sustainability Transitions ACT (S-ACT). Those versions are offered only in some of the periods throughout the year. More information about those different versions of ACT, as well as about registration to the ACT course and practicalities can be found on the ACT course website (https://actregistration.wur.nl/). Via this ACT course website students have to pre-register no later than roughly one period in advance and for period 1 this implies in May the preceding study year. Exact closing dates for registration can be found on the homepage of the ACT course website. This pre-registration and the keywords you enter there describing your expertise, are used to search for meaningful ACT projects. Please note that it is not possible to register for this course via SSC. After you have applied and been assigned to a team the course coordinator will take care of the registration of the participants at SSC, this is generally done in week 1 of a period.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- determine, and adjust when and if necessary, with a team and in interaction with a commissioner, the goals of a project and formulate tasks and a project plan on the basis of their disciplinary knowledge and general academic skills and attitude;
- discuss and defend their viewpoints and conclusions in a professional and academically correct way;
- contribute at an academic level to the execution of an interdisciplinary project, both in terms of process and content, related to their own disciplinary background, by gathering, selecting and analysing information and integrating this into project deliverables;
- implement reflective learning by an assessment of their personal functioning in and contribution to a professional team and discuss reflections and feedback in writing and during assessment interviews;
- demonstrate academic attitude and appropriate skills to execute the team project within (complex) collaborative environments.


- assigned team functions: Prior to starting, the students will be assigned functions with a clear task description: team manager, secretary, (financial) controller, member;
- team meetings: During the course, teams have formal meetings, which the process coach can attend to. With the assistance of the coach, students regularly reflect on the functioning of the team and of individual members;
- meetings with commissioner: Students organize and prepare meetings with the commissioner. During at least the first meeting the coach will be present as observer;
- project proposal: Teams prepare a project proposal, a first concept is discussed with the coach and commissioner. Project proposals should at least address the mission/vision of the group team, the aim of the project and consultancy research questions, the planning chart, the stakeholder analysis, go/no-go decisions and involved risks. The plan is further scrutinized by the commissioner and available academic advisor. During project execution the team checks the project-plan and negotiates adjustments, also with the commissioner, when and if needed;
- skills training: A workshop is used to translate theory of project planning into the preparation of a project plan. Training sessions are organized for introducing theory and for exercising skills related to communication, teamwork and reflective learning, to support processes related to team building and handling complex collaborative environments. On request teams can be supported in methods in social research when and if needed;
- project execution: During project execution a certain division of tasks is needed, yet the team should not start to work as a task team, with only one or two persons working on the integration of elements. Interdisciplinarity requires that all members actively work on synthesis and participate in the formulation of the final product in consultation with the commissioner;
- project deliverables: In principle all teams deliver a project report and an oral presentation, in English, to their commissioner and coaches involved in the ACT. Alternative and possible additional deliverables for each project are defined in the project-plan in interaction with the commissioner and the process coach and academic advisor.
- individual assignments: Students compile a (self) assessment dossier. This includes the: application letter, expectation paper, reflection forms, mid-term reflection paper and final reflection paper. During the starting, mid-term and final interviews the coach gives feedback on the dossier. Elements of this dossier are discussed during team meetings.


The final mark is calculated as follows:
- project proposal (15%) (100% coach);
- product (42.5%) (of which 50% assigned expert, 25% coach and 25% commissioner);
- team process (10%) (100% coach);
- individual process (32.5%) (of which 50% coach and 50% mutual assessment team);
All parts: written self-assessment, project proposal, product, team process and individual process, have to be sufficient (5.5 at least) to pass the course.


A reader on communication and personal development skills is available at the WUR-shop.
Other reading material is available at the ACT course website.

Compulsory for: MBSBiobased SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
Restricted Optional for: MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MBIBiologyMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MOAOrganic AgricultureMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMSc2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MFNForest and Nature ConservationMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MPSPlant SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MBEBiosystems EngineeringMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MNHNutrition and HealthMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MBFBioinformaticsMSc2WD, 6WD
MUEUrban Environmental ManagementMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MTOLeisure, Tourism and EnvironmentMSc6WD
MCLClimate StudiesMSc2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MIDInternational Development StudiesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MCHCommunication, Health and Life SciencesMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMSc1WD, 2WD, 3MO+4WD, 5WD, 6WD