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We work with British and American universities, and host organisations across the world to bring university students an exciting opportunity to work directly with practitioners in their chosen field.

The aim is for students to offer fresh, new thinking whilst learning from those who have been working in the industry for a number of years. These mutually beneficial partnerships not only support host organisations with their own development but also contribute to the students’ knowledge, academic research and employability.

Challenges Worldwide Overseas Research Placements for university students are your opportunity to make the most of your Master’s dissertation.

Conduct field research overseas

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Gain international work experience

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Support monitoring and evaluation

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Our University Partners

University of Strathclyde

We work with the Law School at Strathclyde University to offer 12-week bespoke Field Dissertation Assignments for their postgraduate students each year. Students from this programme will do vital research for an organisation in a lower income country whilst gaining valuable experience for their own academic research. In the past, students have worked in a variety of areas and countries including access to water in Guatemala, defending human rights defenders in Uganda, access to renewable energies in Malawi and women’s employment rights in Ghana. 

University of Edinburgh

The School of Geosciences offers International Work Based Placements of up to 8 weeks. Students from this school will be working in a variety of areas including food security, agricultural development and renewable energies. This experience will provide students with a valuable overseas working experience whilst giving them the opportunity to enrich their thesis research for the end of their MSc programme.

University of Denver

We work with the Post Disaster Psychology department at Denver to provide 20+students with work placements for a period of 8 weeks. During this time students will be based across the world from Ghana to Nepal and from China to Sri Lanka working in different organisations, hospitals and agencies that work in the area of mental health.

How do research placements for students relate to the Challenges Worldwide International Citizen Service Programme?

We try to place University students into an enterprise that has already received diagnostic support and recommendations from volunteer business support associates who are taking part in the Challenges Worldwide ICS (International Citizen Service) Programme.

We take a strategic approach to the sectors we are involved in to improve our understanding of:

  • the opportunities for, and barriers to, growth faced by small enterprises
  • the costs and risks of doing business in the developing world
  • how to design and deliver appropriate and affordable services to help businesses overcome impediments to growth.

Students working with Challenges Worldwide will typically research a specific field in more depth and use their finding to write their dissertation or thesis. We believe such an insight will be of significant value to Challenges, our partners, clients, impact investors and other interested parties as we work to develop solutions to growth barriers for enterprises in emerging markets. 


Research themes for summer 2017

This summer, we’ll be offering a limited number of research placements in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia.

If successful, you’d spend 8 weeks overseas gaining practical, field-based experience in your chosen sector and be able to explore research questions in a real-life context. Data gathered can be used in your Master’s dissertation and you’d have the opportunity to feed into our wider programme, tracking how private sector development and enterprise can help improve livelihoods through areas such as improving energy efficiency & sustainability, reducing poverty and empowering women.

In Summer 2017 our activities will be focusing on the Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Artisan Craft sectors.

We’d love to hear from students who share our interests and anticipate their dissertation might fall into those categories. We will introduce you to relevant organisations working in your chosen field, help you with logistics such as arranging visas or accommodation whilst overseas and our local  teams are on hand if you require any support whilst you are on placement.



Renewable Energy

nergie solaire Madagascar

Artisan Crafts


How to apply

Complete the application form and return to Amy.Bodel@challengesworldwide.com

Challenges Worldwide University Research Placement Application Form 2017

Please note that placements are applied to on a competitive basis and a project is not guaranteed for every student.

Previous field research placements

If you would like to explore building a bespoke package for your university school or department then please get in touch.