Short courses


Working with City Leaders

  • 6 hours
  • 1 day


This one-day workshop will give you the skills and practical tools you need to effectively engage and work with city decision-makers

It will help you gain greater confidence in partnering at a strategic level with city leadership, and understand the political challenges they face.

You'll develop your leadership and strategic engagement skills and learn about:

  • principles of leadership/influencing
  • trends analysis
  • integration
  • systems thinking
  • principles of negotiation/diplomacy
  • business leadership for cities

This course is run by the UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) and delivered by expert practitioners in global urban policy, innovation and business.

Who this course is for 

This course is for anyone who works with city leaders, including:

  • engineers
  • urban designers and planners
  • investors

You could be working for a professional services firm or an non-governmental organisation (NGO).

It's most suitable for early- or mid-career professionals who have an interest in urbanisation and projects around strategic and multidisciplinary agendas in cities. 

You should have some experience of working on projects for clients in cities. International experience welcome but not essential.

Course content 

The course has four parts:

1. The new world of cities

Introduction: We are in the Century of Cities, what does this mean?

Debate: What are the opportunities for you / your organisation to fit into this landscape?

Interactive session: Group debrief on individual scenarios and foresight exercise

2. Who are the city leaders in the new world of cities?

Introduction: The distributed character of 21st century city leadership; what does it look like?

Debate: Who is leading cities and urban innovation today? Are power and interests changing? How can you / your organisation combine and align the different sources of leadership?

3. Urban innovation and making your offer distinctive

Introduction: What kinds of urban innovation are needed to solve the governance deficit in cities? 

Debate: What is your organisation's 'edge' that can make it a strategic partner of city leaders? Where and how has your organisation achieved this positioning?

4. Pitching to the city leaders

Interactive session: Teams devise a proposal to align themselves with a city leader and their stakeholders in the context of the case study challenge they've been working on.

Teams will take three minutes each to make a pitch to local city leaders.

Case studies

Throughout the day, you'll work in groups to explore a particular case study. Case studies cover a mixture of:

  • major city-shaping projects
  • global events
  • crises
  • governance reform opportunities
  • district developments

You'll choose between case studies based in Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Kuwait City, Manila, Santiago, Singapore, Sydney, or Toronto.

Teaching and structure 

Before the course, you'll be able to access an hour of pre-course videos to help you prepare.

This workshop itself involves short lectures, moderated debates and interactive exercises, and a group task which will test your skills through realistic simulation. 

Certificates and assessment 

You'll receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the course.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should have:

  • an understanding of the landscape of city leadership and opportunities for influence
  • strategic engagement skills and core principles of negotiation and diplomacy with city stakeholders
  • an applied understanding of governance networks, collaboration and business leadership in and for cities

Course team

Dr Ellie Cosgrave

Dr Ellie Cosgrave

Ellie is a Lecturer in Urban Innovation, and Director of the Urban Innovation and Policy Laboratory at UCL. Her work explores transformative approaches to policy making and governance in cities. Recently she led the research programme for the C40’s Women4Climate campaign and has worked closely with the Greater London Authority as well as many local authorities across the UK and globally.

Dr Tim Moonen

Dr Tim Moonen

Tim is Managing Director of The Business of Cities and Honorary Lecturer at UCL. He's co-authored more than 25 reports, books and chapters on global city competitiveness, governance and performance. He's also participated in multiple advisory boards of both cities and businesses worldwide relating to strategic planning, leadership and policy reforms.

Learner reviews

"After attending this course I'm more aware of how I can add value to the projects going on around me, how to better engage with councils and take time to understand what their priorities are. I liked the methods of breaking down problems and assessing stakeholders." [Course attendee from Arup London]

"As a master planner, I often work on projects that will have a profound impact on the futures of cities and having an understanding of the various stakeholders and decision makers is a key requirement to delivering high quality projects.I definitely recommend this workshop to others and am looking forward to more of these!" [Course attendee from Arup Hong Kong]

Course information last modified: 23 Oct 2019, 12:03