This course builds on the deep historical experience with participatory methods that IDS has pioneered and nurtured, and shares new frontier methods for quality implementation of participatory processes at scale (with large numbers of people and across broader geographical space) to support learning focused and complexity-aware M&E systems.
4 June 2018 - 9:00am to 8 June 2018 - 5:30pm

Why attend? 

Increasingly, development implementing organisations are using complexity-aware, learning-based approaches to design and drive their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems. This enables practitioners to better understand how change actually happens and impact is achieved in real time in complex social change contexts – so as to use M&E to fuel impact. There is also growing awareness of the need for downward accountability and supporting greater feedback from those engaging in interventions to those designing and funding them.

Participatory processes can provide practitioners with key insights into how the changes they desire to support (the impact sought) unfolds through the experiences of those engaged directly in the change processes – often the most marginalised populations we all seek to serve. Unlike linear M&E systems whose indicators tend to speak largely to upward accountability demand, participatory methods are widely recognised for their ability to deeply engage stakeholders at all levels.

This course builds on the deep historical experience with participatory methods that IDS has pioneered and nurtured, and shares new frontier methods for quality implementation of participatory processes at scale (with large numbers of people and across broader geographical space) to support learning focused and complexity-aware M&E systems.

"It’s time we connected up participatory and systemic approaches to M&E, this powerful combination has the potential to seriously deepen our understanding of how change actually happens!" (Marina Apgar, Course Convenor)

Course aims

To equip development planners and practitioners with the knowledge and skills to more effectively design and improve M&E systems and move towards a participatory learning practice within projects, programmes and their organisations.

Who should attend? 

Mid- and senior-level development professionals working in government, NGO or community organisations who have some M&E and learning experience and have a particular interest in building more participatory and complexity-aware processes.

How will participants learn?

The course is designed to work with a maximum of 25 participants, to ensure highly participatory and tailored learning. We believe adult learning is best approached as relational and experiential. Experiences of approaches and tools will be shared by experienced teaching practitioners through case studies. Participants will then explore how particular methods can be used in real life organisational or project realities, in order to be able to directly implement them in their work. Our intent is to build a network of professionals who can stay connected and act as a peer support group as they move back to their own working environments so will ensure there is as much opportunity as possible to work with and learn from each other.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Understand where participatory and learning based approaches to M&E fit within broader approaches to evaluation having explored major debates around accountability, learning, causation and methodological rigour.
  • Apply specific participatory methods to M&E processes having studied at least six key methods using case studies.
  • Critically interrogate and analyse methods, identify their strengths and weaknesses and understand how to adapt and contextualise their use. You will be aware of issues of rigour, ethics, scaleability, and ease of engagement particularly when using these methods with marginalised people.
  • Integrate methods in M&E design through a process of systematising and identifying opportunities to adapt participatory methods to address particular M&E challenges you are facing.
  • Develop a coherent plan to take back to your organisation which you will receive support in doing both during and after the training.

Teaching team

Marina Apgar - Marina uses evaluation research to fuel collaborative learning about social change, with an emphasis on participatory approaches she accompanies development and humanitarian organisations as they build, test and improve complexity aware monitoring and evaluation systems.

Danny Burns - Danny leads the IDS Participation Cluster and his work focuses on participatory learning for social change with a strong emphasis on systems thinking and complexity.

Eric Kasper - Eric’s research brings together participatory social network analysis, systemic action research, complex adaptive systems, and community organizing practice to explore the ways relational structures and social dynamics of people living in urban poverty impact their ability to act collectively as agents of change.

Pauline Oosterhoff - Pauline uses mixed participatory methods, media and arts for research, creative engagement, program management and evaluations focusing on sexual and reproductive health, gender, inclusion and human rights in both development and emergency contexts.


"The course provided a supportive learning space, informed teaching and a rich diversity of participants all willing to share and listen – a wonderful opportunity to learn and reflect. Thank you." (Participant, 2017)

"It was a wonderful learning experience, well-shaped and considered, offering moments to be challenged, to introspect and to plan. I leave with much to bring to my work and my colleagues." (Participant, 2017)

Entry requirements

It is essential that participants have some M&E and learning experience and have a personal or organisational goal to build more participatory and complexity-aware processes.

The course is taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, participants should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. Your English needs to be of an intermediate standard or higher; participants must have an International English Language Test System (IELTS)score of 6.5 or above, or a Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR)score of B2 or above. 

Course fees

The course costs £1500 for five days, including lunches and refreshments, two group dinners, and course materials. It does not include accommodation.

Once you have received confirmation that your application has been approved, the fee must be paid in full before the course commences. There are no bursaries available. IDS Alumni may be eligible for a discount.

How to apply 

Before applying please read our Terms and Conditions (pdf).

The application procedure is a three-stage process:

Stage 1: Apply by completing the online application form. Deadline for applications is 25 March 2018 (this deadline has been extended from 11 February 2018).

Stage 2: You will be notified by 6 April 2018 as to whether your application has been approved or not. Successful applicants will receive the Stage 2 application form and an invoice for the course fee. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received.

Stage 3: Once fees have been received, you will be sent confirmation of your place on the course and a letter to support your visa application (if required).

You are responsible for organising your own travel and visas (where needed). Information about local accommodation will be provided by the course coordinator once your fees have been processed. A limited number of study bedrooms at IDS are available for rent on a first come first served basis.


Institute of Development Studies
Library Road
BN1 9RE Falmer , ESX
United Kingdom
East Sussex GB
Partner(s): Institute of Development Studies