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About CEL

A deeper delve into Cοmmunity Engaged Learning and its distinctive pedagogical approach.


About CEL 

CEL is a form of experiential learning that develops partnerships and collaborative projects into teaching between faculty, students and external partners. CEL promotes UCL's distinctive approach to education that makes connections between people, research and the wider world. ​

​Through these partnerships, students apply their theoretical knowledge to practice, develop transferable skills and become more life-ready. These partnerships promote more sustainable communities.  

This type of learning equips students with the knowledge and skills to contribute significantly to society and be leaders of the future in their chosen field and profession, underpinning our 2034 and Education strategies as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

It underpins the UCL Public Engagement and Community Engagement Strategy 2020-2027 aspiring for UCL to be “the global leader in socially responsible engagement practice and research.


Services available to you

CELS is a consultancy at UCL that aims to enable the development of more CEL opportunities into teaching. Students and community partners have been at the centre of the service, co-designing its offering, processes and resources.

What are different services of CELS?


Our services take the form of:​

  • Training and mentoring​
  • Consultancy service​
  • Linking UCL staff and students with community partners ​
  • Funding to UCL staff, students and partners for engaging with CEL projects

Find more out about the services available to you and how to access them.

To enable more CEL opportunities in teaching, we also:
  • Advise on UCL programmes or modules to ensure that they follow best practice of community engagement and are pedagogically sound​
  • Enable partnerships between faculty, students and external partners for the design of new teaching and learning opportunities and research projects​
  • Offer advice to staff interested in progressing their career using Public / Community Engagement for gaining HEA Fellowship​
  • Celebrate and share existing Community Engaged Learning practice across UCL and with the wider HE sector​
  • Enable staff-student partnership projects (student quality reviewers) on Community Engaged Learning to enhance UCL curricula​
  • Build the capacity of community partners to successfully partner with the university​
  • Ensure funding for knowledge exchange projects in teaching with community  partners in Camden Council ​
  • Promote scholarship on Community Engaged Learning in the UK and the US ​
  • Co-lead on the first national network on Service-Learning / Community Engaged Learning in the UK

Key principles 

The definining principles have been co-designed by UCL staff, students and community partners. ​

  •     Transparency ​
  •     Mutual Benefit ​
  •     Clear Expectations ​
  •     Communication and Feedback ​
  •     Openness to Learning

CEL marries community engagement scholarship with pedagogical theories and tools. We use the framing “Community Engaged Learning” without wishing to exclude any other pedagogical approaches and our approach draws on the following: 

Our approach draws on the following pedagogical approaches:
  • Experiential learning​
  • Service learning​
  • Authentic learning​
  • Community-Based Research (CBR)​
  • Public engagement​
  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)​
  • Civic engagement​
  • Place-based learning​
  • Work-based learning​
  • Glocal Pedagogy​
  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)​
  • Citizen Science ​

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

i. UCL teaching staff | ii. Community partners |

i. UCL teaching staff

Further information and guidance for UCL staff can be found here.
What departments are involved in CEL at UCL?

We work across UCL academic departments. 

We also work closely with a number of professional teams within UCL such as: ​ ​

  • Volunteering Services Unit​
  • Schools Engagement team​
  • Sustainability Team​
  • UCL EAST Engagement and Academic Planning Teams​
  • Innovation and Enterprise​
  • Careers​
  • Vice-Provost (Research) ​
  • Global Engagement ​​
What community partners have worked with UCL?

Voluntary and Community sector partners from Camden and East London. We are currently closing working with Camden Champions. 

I'm not teaching in person, can I still introduce CEL? 

CEL can entail in-person engagement, but also online engagement. Students can collaborate with partners from the local community, but also with partners from around the world. Check out this toolkit "Designing Community Engaged Learning (CEL) in a digital learning environment".

How can I get started? 

Email us on communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk and we will arrange an 1:1 consultation session with you to understand your specific requirements and what support you need. 

ii. Community partners

Further information and guidance for community partners can be found here.
What type of company can become a partner?

It can be private or public, commercial or non-profit making and based anywhere in the world.

I'm not based in the UK, can I still become a partner?

CEL can entail in-person engagement, but also online engagement. Students can collaborate with partners from the local community, but also with partners from around the world.  

Will there be training?

All partners have access to training and mentoring to turn your idea into a teaching project.

What is UCL's 'Academic Calendar'

You can view UCL's academic calendar online. Community partners should discuss specific start and end dates with the faculty member they are working with. 

What is UCL's programme duration?
  • Three year undergraduate course 
  • One year postgraduate taught course 
  • Four year postgraduate research course
What is a Faculty?

Is a group of university departments concerned with a major division of knowledge.