Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment COURSEWORK - 3000 WORD ESSAY  50%
Supplementary Assessment COURSEWORK - 3000 WORD ESSAY  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Critically appraise the principles and problems of participation;

2. Critically evaluate the theory and application of participation in decision-making;

3. Design appropriate facilitation exercises;

4. Apply a range of facilitatory techniques to enhance participation in decision-making.

Brief description

Participatory and consultative processes that involve people with a wide range of perspectives and values are becoming increasingly common in decision-making, particularly within the context of sustainable development (OECD 2001, Moseley 2003). Such processes arose from a general failure of top-down decision-making to produce significant positive change in communities. There is now a wide range of theoretical and applied literature about the need for, and problems with, implementing participatory approaches (e.g. Williams et al. 2003, Parfitt 2004).

Understanding the theory of participatory decision-making is essential for anyone with a serious interest in tackling the wide variety of issues in rural contexts. Because much of the original theoretical perspectives on participation developed from its application by facilitators (Kapoor 2002), the theory is often best understood by also learning about its practice (Acland 1990).


This module aims to:

  • Provide students with a deep understanding of the theory of participation for decision-making and sustainable
  • development;
  • Develop students' skills as facilitators so that they are able to conduct consultative and participatory processes.
The course will be run as a set of examples of facilitation where students will be required to explore the theory of participation. That is, the theory will be delivered through facilitation so that students gain experience of a range of practical facilitatory techniques. Students will be required to critically evaluate key research papers concerning the study and theory of participation and demonstrate their ability to perform as facilitators. Because much of the module will require students to work in groups there will also be considerable opportunity for personal development in managing and dealing with people.

The module has direct relevance to any student interested in working with people. It will therefore be of interest to those on courses such as tourism, conservation management, countryside management and sustainable rural development.


The module will cover a range of topics, including:
  • Participation and engagement;
  • Influence of power in relationships between participants on the effectiveness of participation;
  • Conflict and participation;
  • Techniques for facilitation;
  • Case studies of participatory decision-making.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students will regularly be working in groups and will need to be engaging in the participatory techniques used by the tutor in the class. This will require use and development of a range of communication skills (e.g. presentations and discussions)
Personal Development and Career planning The module provides students with an opportunity to develop practical skills in facilitation. This will be highly relevant and useful in a range of types of employment.
Problem solving Students will need to develop their solution to solving particular issues that require participatory methods.
Research skills Students will be required to critically review and evaluate previous research. It therefore has direct relevance to developing literature reviews as part of research.
Team work Students will need to work in teams to devise an appropriate facilitation plan and carry out this plan with other students.

Reading List

General Text
Acland (1990) A sudden outbreak of common sense. Managing conflict through meditation Hutchinson Business Books Ltd Primo search OECD (2001) Citizens as partners. OECD handbook on information, consultation and public participation in policy-making OECD Publications Service Primo search
Recommended Consultation
Kapoor, I (2002) Third World Quarterly The devils in the theory: a critical assessment of Robert Chambers' work on participatory development 23 (1) : 101 - 117 Primo search Parfitt, T (2004) Third World Quarterly The ambiguityof participation: a qualified defence of participatory development 25 (3) : 537 - 556 Primo search Williams et al (2003) Development and Change Participation and power: poor people's engagement with India's Employment Assurance scheme 34 (1) : 163 - 192 Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6