Professional development course

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Learning

Course details

From 18 January 2021 until 22 January 2021
Institute of Development Studies

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Develop your skills to more effectively design and improve M&E systems supporting participatory and adaptive practice. 

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 – to use M&E to fuel impact and to manage programmes adaptively. 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 marginalised and hard to reach populations. Unlike linear M&E systems whose indicators tend to speak largely to upward accountability demand, participatory and systemic methods are widely recognised for their ability to deeply engage stakeholders at all levels. 

This course, now in its third year, builds on the deep historical experience with participatory approaches and 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 and adaptive 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, complexity-aware and adaptive processes. 

How you’ll 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. Approaches and tools will be shared by experienced teaching practitioners through case studies of their own work. Participants will then explore how particular methods can be used in their own organisational or project realities. With this pedagogical approach we have, over the last two years been building a network of professionals as a peer support group. During the course, we 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 and adaptive programming 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. 

Core teaching team 

Marina Apgar – Marina uses evaluation research and practice to fuel collaborative learning about social change.  With an emphasis on meaningful and power aware participatory methods and use of Theory of Change and contribution analysis she accompanies development and humanitarian organisations as they build, test and improve complexity aware monitoring and evaluation systems. 

Steff Deprez – Steff is a development practitioner, trainer and consultant specialised in complexity-aware programme design, monitoring and evaluation. He has a keen interest in contextualising methods to meet the specific programme needs and set up relevant, useful and pragmatic monitoring and learning practices.  He has a vast experience in developing learning-oriented MEAL systems in different programmes and contexts and masters methods such as Theory of Change, Outcome Mapping Outcome Harvesting and SenseMaker. 

Danny Burns – Danny leads the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster at IDS and his work focuses on participatory learning for social change. He pioneered development and use of systemic action research, bringing complexity thinking in to working with marginalised groups to uncover systemic change from within – he uses this method in innovative evaluation and learning programmes to achieve change at scale. 

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, you 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. Ideally you will 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 £1,550. 

Fees include lunches and refreshments, two evening 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. 


Unfortunately there are no scholarships available for this course. 

How to apply 

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

The application procedure is a three-stage process: 

Stage 1: Apply by completing the online application form. Deadline for applications is 7 December  2020. The course code is PT/19016. 

Stage 2: You will be notified within one month 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). Please note that UK visa applications can take months to process. 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. 

Coronavirus update: We continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and have introduced a range of measures that will limit social interaction and potential transmission. Although applications for our short courses remain open we advise participants who incur any travel costs (e.g. flights, accommodation, visas etc) to ensure they have adequate travel insurance, as stated in our short course terms and conditions.  If your course is cancelled, we will refund your course fees in full.

Past participants said: 

“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.” 

“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.” 

Teaching staff

Image of Marina Apgar
Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

Image of Danny Burns
Danny Burns

Professorial Research Fellow


About this professional development course

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