Teaching & Learning


CEL for UCL Staff

Guidance for UCL teaching staff who want to embed experiential learning into their education through partnership.

Benefits of introducing CEL in your teaching

Enhanced teaching and increased learning opportunities

 Community engaged learning can increase creativity, enjoyment in teaching and an opportunity to form a closer rapport with the students (Pribenow, 2005; Huo, 2010; NSS criteria).

Knowledge of communities and impactful research

​You will come in contact with local knowledge, challenges and opportunities which can advance disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in ways that are rigorous, creative and impactful (REF, 2014 case studies).

Career progression

Academic staff can use their community engagement practice in their teaching towards their career progression (Arena Fellowship application and UCL Academic Careers Framework).

Services available to you

Training and mentoring

Arena professional development sessions ​

An introductory session, run a few times per term, open to UCL academic staff interested in enhancing their practice. Attending this session will help you to:​

  • understand what your programme or module might look like when you embed collaborations with external partners​
  • understand how to do Community Engaged Learning in a digital learning environment​
  • understand community engagement best practice​
  • understand what support and opportunities are available​

​Thematic sessions with a different focus in collaboration with other colleagues at UCL also run throughout the year. ​​

To register: check the events calendar for available sessions (choose 'community engaged learning' as a filter on the left-hand side).

ABC learning design workshop

The ABC curriculum design method is a well-known programme design approach at UCL, using storyboarding, and run by Digital Education.​We offer a modified version of this workshop, in partnership with Digital Education, which incorporates Community Engaged Learning elements.​

This workshop can be run for programme teams, departments or faculties.​

To book a workshop, email: communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk.

HEA Fellowship application mentoring

Mentoring is offered to academics and professional services colleagues who work with communities and are interested to include their CEL practice into their Fellowship application. Resources on CEL for your application can also be found under Arena Fellowship Moodle.

To discuss your application, email: communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk

1:1 consultation

Embedding CEL into your teaching

You and/or your team can receive 1:1 advice on ways to embed community engagement into your existing programme or module.​

​You must teach or lead an existing module or programme to use this service.​

We can support you and your team to:​

  • review the programme or module descriptors to identify the best ways to embed community engagement​
  • identify what community groups and collaborative activities/projects are most relevant for meeting your learning outcomes​
  • identify how to evaluate community engagement in your teaching​

To request the consultancy service, email: communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk

Programme and Module Approval Panel submissions (PMAP)​

If you’re developing a new programme or module with a strong Community Engaged Learning element, we can advise you on your PMAP documentation to ensure that best practice of community engagement is followed and that the new programme is pedagogically sound.​

To request the consultancy service, email: communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk

Linking you with community partners ​

We can reach out to existing UCL community networks with a request for developing Community Engaged Learning projects. Complete this form to let us know about your Community Engaged Learning project idea and how we can best support you. 

Toolkit: How to build partnerships with external partners to enhance learning.

The Community Engaged Learning Service closely works with UCL's Volunteering Service. The Volunteering Service exists to connect UCL with other communities across London, primarily by engaging students in enriching volunteering opportunities. They have formal links with around 450 different charities and community organisations, and regularly send out requests to collaborate from UCL colleagues. 

You might also want to work with public bodies or businesses. CELS is not responsible for initiating a partnership and will do so, if possible. 

You might want to work with communities in East London. Check out Creating Connections by UCL EAST Engagement team


Education innovation grants

UCL Arena Centre, in collaboration with UCL Culture, are pleased to announce a new stream of funding (Higher Education Innovation Fund) to encourage and support teams who want to explore new possibilities and ways of doing things in their curriculum through partnership.

Funding round is now closed, check back for further updates.

You can find here the previous funding call

Check “Live Community Projects” for any other CEL projects and opportunities.

Beacon bursaries

UCL Beacon Bursaries have funded outstanding engagement projects and project teams since 2009. If you have an innovative idea that will help you connect your research or teaching with people outside UCL you could apply for up to £2000 per project. This fund is available to UCL staff and postgraduate research students.​

You can find out more about previous Beacon Bursary projects through our case studies.​

UCL EAST Funding 

​The community engagement team deliver a range of activities to support the development of engagement in UCL East. For more information, check UCL East pages

Live community projects 

Are you interested in working with communities as part of your teaching?

The Community Engaged Learning Service is closely working with Camden Champions. Below are some project ideas that our Camden Champions have identified based on their needs and assets. They are currently looking for UCL students to work together on:

  1. Development of area maps – Students can design garden maps, walkability maps, digital maps, wellbeing walks.
  2. Health and Wellbeing projects – Students can develop training for the community on health and wellbeing principles, they can develop resources and drop-ins for residents. Areas of interest are: nutrition and wellbeing, stress, sleep, diabetes, use of mask.
  3. Podcasts and storytelling – Students can support communities in Camden with storytelling for the creation of podcasts. 
  4. Alternative Playgrounds – Students can research and design portable basketballs and alternative playgrounds. 
  5. Upcycling project – Students can research and design an upcycling project with the community partners. 
  6. Monitoring air pollution – Students can monitor air quality in Camden and help with developing campaigns. They can also collect data about how residents in Camden feel about air pollution. 
  7. Waste bin design – Students can research and design smart waste bin for dog poo in Camden parks.

Email if you are interested in collaborating with Camden Champions in any of the above projects as part of your teaching.

Information about the Community Champions projects can be found here: 



UCL only resources

Modules at UCL that engage CEL

This list of UCL modules can add to your understanding of how to do CEL in your discipline.

Arts and Humanities

Arts, Nature and Wellbeing: Non-clinical Interventions in Health (BASC0030)
CEL elements: assessment co-designed with community partners; community-based research

Bartlett (Built Environment)

Collaborative City Planning Strategies (BPLN0033)
CEL elements: assessment co-designed with community partners; community-based research

Brain Sciences

Communication Skills in Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC0066)
CEL elements: students develop practical, communicative and public engagement skills in cognitive neuroscience

Engineering Sciences

Engineering Challenges (ENGF0001)
CEL elements: Project-Based Learning; students help communities tackle big problems in crucial areas such as energy, infrastructure and security, as well as health and sustainability

IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society

Educating and Organising for Social Justice (EDPS0012)
CEL element: community organising placement    


Access to Justice and Community Engagement (LAWS0030)
CEL elements: students conduct supervised casework at the UCL Integrated Legal Advice Clinic (iLAC), based in Stratford, East London

Life Sciences

Bioprocess Validation and Quality Control (BENG0041)
CEL elements: students familiarise themselves with validation methodologies using leading edge developments with expert speakers in a workshop format

Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Engaging the Public with Science (HPSC0127)
CEL elements: theoretical and practical understanding of how to engage patient and citizen groups with scientific and medical research

Medical Sciences

Bioscience and Society: Public Engagement, Policy and Funding (MEDC0093)
CEL elements: weekly field trips to the sites of various partners

Population Health Sciences

Key Issues in Health Service Delivery, Policy and Management (IEHC0083)
CEL elements: classroom activities - guest speakers offering “real-world” experiences of the issues raised during the module

Social and Historical Sciences

Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing (GEOG0152)
CEL elements: practical involvement of students in citizen science projects



UK Network on Service-Learning/ Community Engaged Learning ​

CELS co-leads on the development of the first UK Network on Service-Learning / Community Engaged Learning in the UK together with Nottingham Trent, King’s College London and De Montfort University. If you are interested to join a network of academics and practitioners who engage with Community Engaged Learning pedagogies, exchange best practice and develop scholarship, you can sign up to the Network’s JISCmail: ServiceLearning@JISCmail. ​

Terms of Reference of the Network can be found here. 

European Observatory of Service-Learning in Higher Education ​

CELS is a member of the European Observatory of Service-Learning in Higher Education. ​

Visit their pages to find out more about other European projects. 

​International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE)

The International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement is an international non-profit organization devoted to promoting research and discussion about service-learning and community engagement. The IARSLCE was launched in 2005. Its mission is to promote the development and dissemination of research on service-learning and community engagement internationally and across all levels of the education system.​

Campus Compact (USA)​

The Campus Compact is an American coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Their mission is to build democracy through civic education and community development.

UCL Community of Practice on Community Engaged Learning ​

If you are a UCL teaching staff or professional services colleague with an interest in Community Engaged Learning and want to connect with peers from other departments during informal socials​

​Email communityengagedlearning@ucl.ac.uk to express your interest.