Socially responsible graduates

The University of Manchester produce more graduates each year than any other campus-based university in the UK.

As key citizens and leaders of tomorrow, we want to ensure they represent the widest range of social backgrounds and develop not only academic and professional skills, but also a sense of ethical, social and environmental responsibility towards the societies they will serve.

Here are just some examples of the activities our students get involved in to make a difference. 


Our commitment to supporting students in becoming socially responsible is embodied through ‘Stellify’ – an initiative to encourage all Manchester students to do more, and become more. 

Stellify exemplifies the distinctiveness of our graduates as ethical leaders, and focuses on the real-world impact of what students do based on five points of action:

  • Embracing learning without boundaries: Through our University College for Interdisciplinary Learning, Learning Through Research and comprehensive Study Abroad and placements programmes, we give opportunities for students to broaden their educational horizons by offering educational experiences outside of their discipline, in areas of profound social and scientific importance.
  • Understand the issues that matter: All students are given opportunities to become ethically, socially and politically informed on key global challenges of sustainability, social justice and workplace ethics through our Ethical Grand Challenges programme (see below).
  • Make a difference: All students are given access to a huge range of volunteering, outreach and philanthropy projects with charities and not-for-profit organisations across Manchester, the UK and overseas.
  • Step up: Students can step up to lead in areas including elected student representation, student societies, residents associations, and sport.
  • Engage with My Future: All students are supported to explore their vision for their future from the moment they arrive at Manchester.  

Stellify Award 

All students who complete a specific set of Stellify activities will receive our Stellify Award at graduation – the most prestigious extra-curricular accolade in the University.

Ethical Grand Challenges

We encourage all our undergraduate students to take part in our Ethical Grand Challenges, which take place in each year of their undergraduate study. These workshops allow students to explore three of the biggest challenges facing the world - Sustainability (Year 1), Social Justice (Year 2) and Workplace Ethics (Year 3+). 

Year 1: Sustainability Challenge

The Sustainability Challenge is one of the biggest events on campus, involving all our first year undergraduate students. Working in interdisciplinary groups, students develop a new campus for the fictitious University of Millchester, learning to incorporate factors such as costs and energy efficiency, while considering the needs of the local community and wider society. 

Year 2: Social Justice Challenge

The Social Justice Challenge gives students a chance to discover how they can support human rights and work to build fairer communities. Delivered through Blackboard, the Social Justice Challenge explores themes like race, migration, homelessness, mental health and education. Students can also take part in the annual Social Justice Photography Competition

Year 3+: Workplace Ethics Challenge

The third stage of the programme focuses on Workplace Ethics for final year students. The range of interactive workshops cover topics such as bullying, harassment and safeguarding. They involve a range of training scenarios that encourage students to consider ethical dilemmas in real-life work situations. 

Find out more on our Ethical Grand Challenges website. 

2020/21 Academic Year

*Undergraduates starting in 2020 will take the Social Justice Challenge in Year 1 and the Sustainability Challenge in Year 2. For returning Year 2 & Year 3+ students the Ethical Grand Challenges will remain the same.

Student volunteering

We offer a range of volunteering opportunities for all our students to get involved in; from supporting other students to getting involved in charities and not for profit organisations in the wider community. Students can find out more through our Volunteering Hub.

Students can also get involved in volunteering and fundraising through the Students’ Union.

The University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL)

Our University College for Interdisciplinary Learning introduces students to topics and ways of thinking, tackling the key questions facing society in the 21st century - for example, the digital revolution, globalisation and mental health. The units equip students with invaluable knowledge and skills which will complement their studies and increase employability. UCIL provides a unique learning experience by giving students the chance to meet and study with students from different degree programmes across the University. 

Students can study additional units from across the university that will contribute to their degree programme. All of the units are credit-bearing like any other within our degree programmes.

Social impact through learning

Positive contributions to society are embedded into many forms of teaching and learning activities in the University. Examples include students providing community-based research on linguistic diversity, public and patient engagement through health programmes, postgraduate consultancy projects for local charities and cultural sector organisations, and pro bono support by students through our Legal Advice Centre. You can find out more on our Service learning pages.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs)

Our massive open online courses – or MOOCs – allow us to engage people from around the world with an exciting variety of our study opportunities. All that’s needed is an Internet connection. They’re free of charge and a typical MOOC lasts six to eight weeks.