What is Grand Challenges?

Shortlisted for the global Reimagine Education award 2016 (in the 'Cultivating Curiosity' category), unique to Exeter, and linking strongly with the Education Strategy Graduate Attributes, Grand Challenges is an interdisciplinary, enquiry led learning experience which improves your employability. During Grand Challenges Week you choose from a range of global issues and, supported by leading academics and external specialists, you carry out group research in order to create a solution to your challenge.

Take part in Grand Challenges Week

The week is packed with activities involving leading academics, external specialists (from the government, NGOs, Charities, potential employers), events, skills workshops and a showcase at the end.  Plus you’ll have something to put on your CV straight away. All undergraduates can take part in Grand Challenges Week. On Streatham it will run 5 – 9 June 2017, just after most disciplines' exams finish, whilst on Penryn it will coincide with field trips 12 - 16 June 2017.

Streatham Students can pick from one of five Challenges for 2017:


Whilst Penryn students can either choose from Grand Challenges Cornwall, looking at sustainable food production in the 21st Century, hosted on the Penryn Campus, or choose 'Global security' or 'Climate change' and have transport and accomodation on Streatham paid for. Find out more on the challenge pages.

What do I do?

When you arrive on the first day of your challenge, you will meet the other students in your challenge and get an idea of what the week has in store. You’ll break into smaller groups of between 5-15 students (called enquiry groups), each tackling an aspect of your challenge. For example, climate change students may take part in an enquiry group focusing on climate myths, or perhaps one focusing on building an app to raise public awareness. 

Your week will be spent undertaking a mixture of activities, including group work to develop solutions to your challenge, called 'outputs', as well as taking part in lectues, workshops, trips and events led by specialists.

Past students have created apps, charities, events, videos, websites, poster displays, social media campaigns, an education programme for a primary school and more!

Check out an Example Timetable from the 2015 Gender Equality Challenge to get an idea of how the week will look.

What do I get?

Grand Challenges goes on your degree transcript on your Higher Education Achievement Record, and you gain vital employability skills such as teamwork, communication, creativity, problem-solving and leadership. Perhaps the biggest reward is who you’ll be working with – from experts to new friends! You may have the opportunity to work with military officials, local GPs, Public Health Devon, Samaritans, the Met Office, and many more.

I used my Grand Challenges Week experience to help me secure an internship with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)! They loved hearing about it in the interview – I could use it as an example of group work, leadership skills, innovative thinking, overcoming a problem, and they were really interested in the research we completed as it is a project unique to the University of Exeter. It was a fantastic week and it’s benefited me in so many ways.

Hannah, 2nd Year, Accounting & Finance with Industrial Experience

What next?

Sign up opens from January 2017 and will be open until the end of May. You will find out more about how to sign up and challenge details as planning progresses!

Keep an eye on our social media for updates:

Twitter @uofe_challenges #uoe_challenges #gcFood #gcMentalHealth #gcClimateChange #gcSecurity

Facebook Grand Challenges www.facebook.com/grandchallenges