Exeter Award

Skills training sessions contribute towards the Exeter Award

Grand Challenges skills training

Grand Challenges skills training sessions are designed to equip you with skills that will help you to excel in your challenge. They will also help during your degree, and in your working life after graduation. All sessions are optional, and you can choose what you would like to attend, based on which skills you want to enhance. All sessions contribute towards the Exeter Award.

Some sessions will take place the week before Grand Challenges Week, with others take place during Grand Challenges Week. There are also some online sessions. The sessions below are the ones that ran in 2018, and you can browse them to see if any are of interest to you.  

Online training

This course is online and can be accessed at any time: http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/enrol/index.php?id=7318

Aims of the session;

  • To contextualise problem based learning and associated skills and approaches in the context of Grand Challenges
  • To  identify key skills and behaviours associated with improving learning and performance in education
  • To be aware of key processes associated with effective problem solving and critical thinking
  • To consider interdisciplinary working
  • To consider writing effectively for a range of audiences

This course is online and can be accessed at any time: http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/enrol/index.php?id=7262 

Aims of the session:

  • Introduce yourself and the purpose of the Interview to the interviewee
  • Phrase questions appropriately to get the most out of the interviewee
  • Understand the importance of reading body language to pick up cues
  • Consider the differences between interviewing for media purposes and interviewing for research
  • Conduct yourself professionally in this context

The week before Grand Challenges

This session will help you plan and effectively deliver presentations in a variety of contexts.

Presentation skills are vital - you probably need them at University, you definitely need them in business and they are often used as part of the selection process in the graduate jobs market.  

At the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of an effective presentation
  • Structure an effective presentation
  • Identify techniques for maintaining audience interest
  • Identify techniques for coping with nerves
  • Plan and deliver a short presentation

This session will explore team dynamics, help you determine what kind of team-player you are and how to build an effective team.

Team working is an increasingly sought after skill and is much in demand in the world of graduate employment. It may also be relevant to your academic work and certainly if you take part in a club or society.

At the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between a group and a team, and identify the characteristics of an effective team
  • Gain an overview of key models of team development and team roles
  • Develop a greater awareness of their own role as a team-player and value differences in other team members
  • Identify strategies for building effective teams

This workshop will help you develop your knowledge and understanding of the planning stage of a project. Project planning is an important precursor to the project management stage.

By the end of this workshop, students should have:

  • Understood what a project is
  • Understood that project planning is a key aspect of project management
  • Learnt how to compile a project charter and give a brief overview of a project
  • Understood key concepts such as objectives, scope, deliverables, critical success factors, stakeholders
  • Learnt about the key techniques for planning a project

This workshop will cover the skills and psychology of successful negotiating and provide you with a set of principles that will work not just between you and your housemates but in the cut-and-thrust of business too.

Negotiation is the art of getting what you want and keeping everyone else happy at the same time.

At the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • Define what is meant by negotiation and apply that to a number of different contexts.
  • Identify  factors that can determine the outcome of a negotiation.
  • Plan a strategy for successful negotiation.
  • Understand the principle of ‘win-win’ negotiations.


This session will help you to manage your time more effectively, identify stress points and ways of dealing with them.

If you find it difficult to achieve what you want and feel overwhelmed by the number of things you have to do, this workshop will provide some tools to help you.  

At the end of the session you will be able to:

  • Identify how your time is wasted
  • Identify when you are under stress
  • Develop strategies for time and stress management

This session aims to help you learn how to build new relationships to expand your network of professional contacts.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – how many times have you heard that one?

Unfortunately it’s often true, especially in the jobs market with some reports claiming as many as six out of ten jobs are not even advertised, but arise out of the ‘hidden market’.

Contacts are important, and can help you get a job as well as sustain your career.

At the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • Explain why networking is important
  • Identify networking skills
  • Identify ways of describing themselves and their career goals succinctly
  • Recognise and take advantage of a networking opportunity when it arises

Your research question is fundamental because it guides your research.  In this session you will learn how to write clear and focussed research questions by considering:

  • What ‘problem’ you are trying to solve
  • What research has already been undertaken
  • Why the 'problem' is important

We will also spend time evaluating real research questions, thinking about their scope and how to break down a problem or research question. This will enable us to strategise not only the problems we need to address and the questions we need to ask, but how we can solve them through research.

This session on applied writing is designed specifically for students undertaking the Global Security Challenge. We strongly recommend that students undertaking this Challenge attend this session.

At the end of the session you will be able to:

  • Understand the underlying principles behind a SWOT analysis
  • Understand the broad utility of SWOT as an analytical tool
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of using SWOT in your own studies
  • Use SWOT as a precursor to Scenario Planning
  • Understand the history of Scenario Planning
  • Understand academic thinking on Scenarios
  • Understand the utility of Scenario planning for effective strategy


The UN Sustainable Develop Goals are part of a new global sustainable development agenda which aims to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The 17 goals and 169 associated targets describe the environmental and social challenges that governments, organisations and individuals will need to overcome if we are to deliver this vision.  How do we translate these big picture concepts into local and meaningful action? This session will look at what the University of Exeter is doing to support these goals in practice and the action that individuals can take to make a difference. We will also explore how businesses are using the goals in developing and delivering their own sustainability agendas and what this means for graduate recruitment.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

On successfully completing the session you will be able to...

  • Describe the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the background to their development
  • Explain the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in achieving the Goals and how Grand Challenges exemplifies this;
  • Appreciate the role of Higher Education Institutions and business in delivering the Goals;
  • Identify ways that you can support the delivery of the Goals, personally through the choices you make and the action you take;
  • Describe how the UN Goals apply to the commercial awareness needs of employers.

This interactive session will help you to make the most of LinkedIn, showing how to develop your profile and take advantage of LinkedIn networks

The session will help you understand how LinkedIn works, what to include in your LinkedIn profile and how to use LinkedIn to make you more employable. In particular, how to develop your networks, how to search for work opportunities and how to improve your commercial awareness.


During Grand Challenges Week

This session covers what digital marketing is, why it is used and the pros and cons of using it.  Students will understand how to launch and manage a campaign, identify, engage with and build their audience and evaluate the impact of a campaign.

At the end of the session you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the value of engagement through digital marketing and understand that it is more than Just posting social media messages
  • To identify the digital platforms best for their campaign
  • Have a clear starting point for launching a project, from initial concept idea to getting it off the ground
  • Understand evaluation techniques for assessing the success of a campaign

You’ll learn how to pitch your idea or service to a customer. Once you’ve validated your idea and worked out who you are aiming it at, this is the next step.  You’ll learn how to tell a real customer story, outline your business model, and pare your business down to the essentials in order to get someone else interested in what you propose to do.

This workshop offers students the opportunity to learn about the use of entrepreneurial behaviour for social rather than profit objectives.

By the end of this workshop, students will have:

  • Learnt what is meant by social entrepreneurship and what differentiates it from business entrepreneurship
  • Learnt about the qualities required by social entrepreneurs

By the end of this skills sessions, students will be able to:

  • Understand how you can use an online surveys and the impact of these
  • Understand the different types of methodologies that are possible, including multiple choice, likert scales, visual analogue scales, pictures, videos, and the pro’s and con’s of different question and answer formats
  • Understand the tools available, either free tools or customised packages
  • Design the questions of the survey in order to get meaningful data
  • Appreciate any ethical issues that need consideration, such as anonymising data, and how to handle ‘sensitive’ questions and confidentiality issues
  • Prepare the audience for the survey (timeline, start/finish period), promotion/marketing/targeting, in particular looking at how to use social media to promote your survey and recruit participants to complete it
  • Report back (results) - when, what and how,