NGO Management

  1. 2017 Entry


This unique course is one of the only management courses in Europe to focus on the specific needs of the  staff, trustees and volunteers working in international NGOs - particularly those whose activities are focused on working with the poor and vulnerable in the developing world. It is aimed at those currently working in the sector, but also at people exploring a career shift into the international development sector and consultants looking to develop  their expertise in the NGO sector.

What sets the Cass Business School NGO Management course apart is that it is:

  • Future-facing: The course focuses on the rapidly evolving context of international development. It explores the implication for NGOs of such trends as the changing role of civil society, altering aid flows, increased funding for humanitarian and security work, shifting North-South relations, the impact of new digital technologies, the moves to greater collaboration and the increasing influence of the private sector in the development process.
  • Both academic and applied: The course combines the academic rigour of an internationally respected management school with a highly practical and applied approach.  The course is delivered by NGO Management practitioners with decades of first-hand experience and ongoing involvement in the sector. In addition we have guest lectures by senior NGO staff or consultants presenting the latest issues and exploring the real-world challenges they face. The shadowing exercise, a key component of the course, provides students with a unique insight into the day-to-day realities of NGO management.
  • A rich learning environment: The course lecturers are among the most highly regarded in the University and have been awarded prizes for the quality of their teaching. Personal reflection and learning is encouraged through action learning sets and the coaching opportunities that are available. We place considerable emphasis on student participation and interaction. Together with the diversity of the student cohort each year, this creates a stimulating learning environment.

This academically rigorous and practically applied postgraduate course is designed for those hoping to develop and senior management career in international development, become a board member of an international NGO board, or work in a foundation funding work internationally. As a student you will gain:

  • An understanding of the strategic issues and organisational challenges facing NGO managers
  • Relevant management competencies, leadership skills and analytical capabilities
  • Insight into the different strategies and approaches commonly adopted by NGOs
  • An appreciation of the issues of managing change in NGOs
  • Access to a strong network and connections within the sector
  • Confidence to pursue your career in the sector.

Course structure and content

Postgraduate Diploma

The aim of the NGO Management course is to enable students to develop key management competencies and analytical capabilities needed by those in leadership and management positions in international NGOs.

The course has been developed in partnership with leading INGOs and BOND (the UK-NGO network). It is one of the five postgraduate courses offered by Cass’s Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness. This is one of the only centres of excellence in Europe offering a full range of latest research, education, training and consultancy geared to the needs of voluntary sector managers and leaders.

The course is taught on a part-time basis and is taught over a period of twelve months. The Postgraduate Diploma consists of four core modules that all students take and are common to all the Centre’s postgraduate courses.  These core modules provide the essential underpinning of management skills for the specialist courses. Upon successful completion of the diploma you can continue to the MSc Programme.

The MSc requires completion of the Research Methods for Managers module. This is followed by either:  a further six months of personal, supervised research and the presentation of a 15,000-word research-based dissertation. Or alternatively, you can opt to take a taught Masters which allows you to choose specialist modules from one of the other Charities programmes.

All courses are taught at Cass Business School and will require attendance one weekend a month commencing on the Friday afternoon at 13:00 to 21:00 and finishing on Saturday at 18:00.

In addition to the above timings, your attendance is required:

  • On the Induction Day
  • For Action Learning Set meetings (usually alternate months, on the Friday morning of the teaching weekend
  • For the Resource Management module exam

Term dates

October 2017 intake


06 October 2017

Learning and Understanding the Voluntary Sector

06 - 07 October 2017

Strategy, Diversity and Governance

10 - 11 November 2017
08 - 09 December 2017

Marketing & Fundraising

12 - 13 January 2018

Resource Management

09 - 10 February 2018
09 - 10 March 2018
06 - 07 April 2018

Exam*   04 May 2018

NGO Management: The Strategic Issues

11 - 12 May 2018
08 June 2018

Managing NGOs: People & Practices

09 June 2018
13 - 14 July 2018


Process to be completed by early August 2018

Course Review Day

07 September 2018

*All other modules are assed by coursework

Module outlines

Learning and Understanding the Voluntary Sector

This module represents the starting point for you and the opportunity to learn about the process of learning and establishing plans for learning on the programme.  The vital 'Learning Contract' is developed on this module, and forms the basis of the learning throughout the Masters programme.

It also offers a perspective on leading public/voluntary sector debates within an historical context, alongside a more enduring understanding of scholarly approaches to the understanding of developments and changes in the relationship between government and the voluntary sector.

Resource Management

This module aims to enables the student to:
  • Provide students with an understanding of the principles of resource management within the specialist context of charities
  • Definitions and the legal framework of charities and voluntary organisations
  • The role of the Charity Commission
  • Sources of finance for the charity sector
  • Introduction to general accounting principles
  • Charity accounts and regulatory framework
  • Understanding, interpreting and analysing charity accounting statements
  • Costing and budgeting in voluntary organisations
  • Risk assessment
  • Outsourcing
  • Appraising, appointing and dismissing auditors and other resource consultants and experts
  • IT Strategic appraisal and implementation
  • The nature of Human Resource Management
  • Human resource and personnel issues including training and development, reward and retention and effective selection and recruitment

Marketing and Fundraising

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • To provide students with the concepts, underpinning knowledge, skills and techniques to plan and develop marketing and operations systems
  • Enable students to analyse marketing needs, evaluate marketing plans, in the context of applying marketing concepts to their own organisation
  • Effective Marketing Information Systems
  • Development of a marketing strategy
  • Product/Service policy and new product development
  • Role of communications
  • Branding
  • Pricing as a value-added marketing tool
  • Capacity planning - resources planning and allocation
  • Total Quality Management
  • Stakeholder/Customer care

Strategy, Diversity and Governance

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • To develop a broad knowledge and conceptual base in the field of strategy development, diversity and governance
  • Introduce practical tools to help improve the quality of an organisation's strategic response to the changing environment
  • Introduce practical tools to help improve the ability of the organisation and its managers and leaders to build a diverse workforce
  • Enhance appreciation of the constraints and opportunities offered by the changing governance and service-delivery frameworks which affect voluntary organisations
  • Improving an organisation's strategic response by use of strategy and diversity management and theory
  • Approaches to developing strategy
  • Approaches to managing diversity
  • The changing environment of the voluntary sector
  • Case studies on the application of strategic planning and diversity


This module aims to enables the student to:
  • Have the opportunity to spend 4-5 days shadowing a senior NGO manager or undertaking relevant fieldwork consultancy exercise with members of an NGO's senior management team
  • Develop their perspective on the role and practice of senior NGO managers
  • Consider the ethical and environmental issues faced by senior managers
  • Study at close hand the way change is managed at a senior level
  • Analyse alternative approaches to improving their own and their organisation's effectiveness
  • Design of Shadowing/Fieldwork Exercise proposal linked to Learning Contract and negotiation with senior manager of shadowed organisation (approved by the Academic Leader)
  • 4-5 days shadowing senior manager or fieldwork consultancy exercise - observing and learning from the experience
  • Reflections using all the theories and models learnt on the programme
  • Preparation of reflective report containing analysis and recommendations for improved effectiveness

NGO Management

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • Understand the key strategic issues facing the NGO Sector
  • Analyse the organisational challenges facing international NGOs
  • The development environment and strategic trends
  • NGOs: organisational types and structures
  • The issues of managing NGOs in the current-aid architecture
  • Implications of the changing role of INGOs and civil society
  • Applying NGO principles and values
  • Governance and working with NGO Boards
  • Accountability and impact assessment for NGOs
  • NGO Capacity building: trends and effectiveness
  • Developing strategies and strategic plans
  • Building partnerships and managing inter-organisational relations

Managing NGOs: People and Practices

This module aims to enables the student to:

  • Critically appreciate the issues NGO managers face
  • Develop the skills and competencies to work effectively with different people and the processes and practices involved
  • Managing effective, accountable and sustainable NGOs
  • NGO Leaders and Leadership Development
  • NGO management competencies
  • Dimensions of cross-cultural management in NGO context
  • Managing People & Teams in NGOs
  • OD and organisational change in NGOs
  • Promoting organisational learning and innovation in NGOs
  • Current issues in monitoring; evaluation

MSc conversion

Upon successful completion of the diploma, you will be given the option to continue to the MSc. This requires completion of the Research Methods for Managers module.

This can be followed by a further six months of personal, supervised research and the presentation of a 15,000-word dissertation.

Alternatively, you can opt to take a taught Masters which allows you to choose specialist modules from one of the other Charities programmes.

Term dates

For students progressing from the Postgraduate Diploma Intake in 2017

Research Methods for Managers

January 2019

Dissertation or Taught Masters Option

completion by the middle of September 2019

Our course professionals

The NGO Management Course is under the direction of Professor John Hailey and Dr Rick James. The Director of the overall MSc programme is Professor Paul Palmer, an Associate Dean at Cass Business School.

John Hailey has worked in over fifty different countries, and has extensive international experience as consultant with a range of International NGOs, UN agencies, donors and foundations.  His research and publications have focused on the leadership and management of international NGOs, and the strategic issues facing International NGOs and development agencies generally. He was one of the founders of the Oxford-based International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC).

Rick James has more than 25 years’ experience working with NGOs in Africa, Latin America and Europe. He has worked with INTRAC since its inception more than 20 years ago. He focuses on organisational change specialising in strategy and leadership development. He has consulted for more than 100 NGOs, faith-based organisations and official aid agencies, and has published over 50 articles and books. He has a PhD in NGO Management from City University and is a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Management at CASS.

Visiting lecturers on the NGO Management course have included:  Richard Bennett, Acord Assembly, Kenya;  Anna Feuchtwang,  formerly: Chief Executive, EveryChild;  Bev Jones, formerly: International Director, CAFOD; Professor David Lewis, LSE; Carolyn Miller, Chair, INTRAC; Sarah Mistry, Director of Effectiveness and Learning, BOND; and Peter Moore, ActionAid International.


All students will be highly motivated graduate-level people who bring a wide range of professional competencies, skills and experience from a wide range of backgrounds. Gender is evenly balanced across all the courses and there are no age barriers.

In general we ask for a good first degree, normally an upper second-class honours degree from a British University or an equivalent qualification from a leading overseas institution; and three or more year’s relevant experience at a senior level. In exceptional cases we will also accept those without a degree but with significant work experience.

Overseas students are welcome to apply to these courses, but need to be aware that they cannot be sponsored for Tier 4 visas due to the part-time modular delivery of the course.

Past students have come from NGOs of all sizes, as well as foundations, business and the public sector.  Their feedback has been very positive:

“I found the MSc in NGO Management to be extremely practical and valuable. The course gave an excellent overview of the issues facing charities that are working internationally … the quality of the teaching was high and the assignments relevant and stimulating.  I highly recommend it”

Matt Parker, Vice President, Kids Alive International, Chicago, USA

“Studying NGO Management at Cass, and especially combining it with Finance, enabled me to make the step into a leadership role. The course provides the perfect combination of academic rigour, practical knowledge, and teachers and classmates with experience from across the sector.”

Meryl Davies, CEO, Habitat for Humanity Great Britain

“I cannot recommend more nor speak more highly of the Masters in NGO Management at Cass. The quality, pace and depth of the teaching, learning and challenge was genuinely excellent. I was promoted within a few weeks of completing the course and 100% believe this would not have happened so quickly without the added value the Masters brought to me. The Masters itself, the professors and my fellow students gave me huge confidence and knowledge. Reflecting on it 12 months later, I feel that the main thing the course has given me is access – access to critical information, best practise approaches and most importantly individuals that will continue to help shape my learning and challenge my thinking throughout my career.”  

Jennifer Coffey, Deputy Head of Partnership Development, Save the Children UK Global Programmes

“The course gave me the confidence to strengthen my role in the senior management team, which ultimately lead to my appointment as Deputy Director”

Gillian Garcia, Deputy Director, CDD, Mexico City

“It was like ten years of NGO management experience analysed thoroughly, distilled into a single course and personalised for me.  In the course you will have a chance to survey our field broadly, to think critically about what you bring to it, and to focus on what you can do to become a better international NGO leaders and manager”

Ted Nierras, Global Coordinator of Alliance Centres, HIV/AIDS Alliance

“I have used the models and approaches which I learned on the course in my day to day work.  The breadth of the course gave me the confidence that I know the key issues across the range of functions within NGOs”

Alison Marshall, Senior Advocacy Adviser, International Planned Parenthood Federation

“The NGO Management course provides a fascinating insight into the key challenges and trends that are shaping international development today. The course combines academic rigour with a practical focus, and is delivered by lecturers and practitioners who are able to illustrate issues with first-hand experience and recent case studies. Sitting in class, I’d often feel I was getting a “behind the scenes” look into how NGOs operate”

Adam Groves. Senior Programme Manager, Radar

Course fees and expenses

Course fees

The course fees for all five courses in the Charities Programme are payable at the start of the academic year. The fee for the Postgraduate Diploma is £6,000. A deposit of £400 is payable on acceptance of a place. For self-paying students, the balance is payable in two instalments, the first during the registration process in September and the second at the end of January. For those converting the Diploma to MSc a further £3,500 is payable in one instalment at the beginning of the second year.

Students who are sponsored by their employer will need to complete a sponsorship form as part of the application process. An invoice for the full fees will be sent to the employer in October. If the employer is a charity, they can request payment in two instalments by contacting the person named on the invoice. This arrangement allows the charity to spread the fees across two financial years.

Funding opportunities for Masters students

We recommend that you have a back-up source of funding in the event that you are not successful for any Cass scholarships. The below links might be useful as alternative sources of funding, and your home government might also provide scholarships for study abroad.

Course expenses

The weekend modules will incur additional accommodation and subsistence expenses for those participants living outside London.

Application deadline

There is no application deadline for this course. However, we advise you to apply well in advance, as competition for places is high and applications are considered on a continuous basis.