Community Based Learning in higher education

Linking students to community projects in Bristol

Community-based learning projects enable students to develop critical thinking, to understand the wider context of their work, and provide an opportunity for them to move in a professional environment - skills and experiences often prized by future employers.  They also enable mutual relationships between universities and communities, adding value to both.

View recent projects

Pilots run by the University

The University of Bristol has run three pilot schemes where students have conducted projects in partnership with a community organisation.  The aim of these schemes has been to explore the challenges and opportunities of incorporating community-based placements into the curriculum. View the projects.


The Engineering pilot involved student interns scoping projects for 3rd and 4th year students.  This project aimed to explore the challenges and opportunities of incorporating community-based placements into the undergraduate curriculum - engaging with the voluntary and community sector and testing the academic processes for assessing these projects within engineering degrees.  Read the full report on the HEA STEM South West website.

Social Policy

Social Policy also utilised student interns to scope dissertation projects with community partners.  Students have just completed their dissertations and a report will be available shortly.

Geographical Sciences

The third pilot is currently being undertaken by MSc students in Environmental Policy and Management with the aim of creating links between the academic study of Environmental Policy and Management and the practice of it, in partnership with community and partner organisations in Bristol.   The partnerships provide the opportunity for students to make links with local organisations and undertake an interesting dissertation whilst also meeting a research need of a community partner to inform their work.

25 projects with twelve community partners were originally scoped.  Nine students have undertaken projects with:

  • Bedminster Energy Group
  • Bristol City Council
  • Bristol Green Capital’s transport action group
  • Bristol Power Cooperative
  • Greater Bedminster Community Partnership
  • Soil Association
  • Transition Bristol. 

Students are currently blogging about their projects as part of the Cabot blog.

View the latest projects and see how they have helped local organisations and businesses.

Get involved

We are now expanding the project outside of Geographical Sciences.  If you are a community partner interested in working with students on a research need or a student interested in working with a community partner then please do get in touch with Hannah Tweddle,  the Cabot Institute’s Community Based Learning Intern, at

Further information

Project case studies

Cabot Institute Prize for best projects

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