MC: Second Opinion Writing


Course Objective

Academic and Research Skills:
You learn to discuss and apply theories on argumentation in a context of
policy/decision making and you get some basics in project management.

Knowledge of Theory + Methods and Solving Complex Problems:
You learn to distinguish between academic and consultant criteria for
evaluating the quality of advice, and you are able to apply a relevant
set of criteria to an existing advice report. You can identify unsolved
problems, and you work towards own solutions based on literature study,
interviews with the consultant, the client and experts on the topic, and
by own analysis.

Professional Social Skills:
You act in the role of a consultant who writes a second opinion, which
reviews an existing consultant report delivered to a paying client. You
develop your own advice and you practice with pitching your ideas,
also to acquire a follow-up project.

Horizon Beyond Professional Area:
You get aware of the context in which a consultant assignment is done.

Self-Reflective Professional:
You learn to reflect on your work, how much time you need to perform
your job, how to give and receive feedback on the work you and your
peers perform, and how you develop towards becoming a consultant.

Course Content

The main assignment in this course is to write a second opinion. That is
a common assignment for consultants. Often companies or ministries
develop a strategic plan based on what internal staff members think
would be a right course of action. However, management can feel insecure
about such a plan. In such cases they might ask external consultants for
a second opinion. Or a works council is asked for their opinion, and
they feel not qualified to give advice on such a strategic plan. Then
they might hire consultants to help them out. Consultants help by
writing a second opinion on what management has proposed, and guide the
works council. Writing a second opinion requires a normative perspective
in two ways: in making an assessment of the report or the initial idea,
and in giving advice on how to improve the client’s situation, based on
one’s own assessment and some own research that is needed to fill in the
discovered gaps. Second opinion writing is the first skills course in
the MC programme.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and tutorials

Method of Assessment

Assignments and intermediate take home exam

Entry Requirements

not applicable


Bouwmeester (2010) Economic Advice and Rhetoric: Why do Consultants
perform Better than Academic Advisers? Cheltenham: Elgar.
Several articles that will be published in the course manual (see

Additional Information

All literature will be available as ebook or ejournal via VU library. If
you prefer hard copy you need to order the book in advance. On
canvas I will share a discount code.

Recommended background knowledge

not applicable

General Information

Course Code E_BA_MCSOW
Credits 6 EC
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator dr. O. Bouwmeester
Examiner dr. O. Bouwmeester
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: