Applied (online) research projects for students through University Living Lab

The short version: We have a load of applied research projects for sustainable development set by internal and local partners.  These are aimed at students who want to make a difference through their assessment. Many of these are based on secondary data sources, or draw on data that could be collected virtually.  During the unsettled times of COVID-19 when face to face engagement is being minimised, we hope these might be mutually beneficial.

The projects are available via this dropbox link.

** Please be aware that at the University of Manchester you cannot use the same piece of work for more than one assessment.

If you use any of the research projects, we ask that you complete this simple survey This does not collect any personal data, it shows interest in the projects and explains how to share the final research on our website and with our external partners so that they can use them to affect change.

We hope to keep updating the list. If you would like to add any research projects, please email

We would really value your feedback, or just a quick line to tell us how you used the projects.

The longer version/explanation: Five years ago, the University Living Lab* developed the University of Manchester campus as a site for applied teaching and research around sustainability and low carbon.  It served as an excellent platform for collaboration between researchers, students, external sustainability stakeholders and the Directorate of Estates and Facilities to deploy and monitor new technologies and services in real world settings.

We believe that students are a 40,000 strong force for potential change. An interdisciplinary team led by Geographers, Jen O’Brien, Joe Blakey and Ross Jones (Ross was part of the original University Living Lab team), will be taking over the original site to focus particularly on a Living Lab for Pedagogy.  The site will host applied research projects that have been set by external partners that any students can access.  The idea is to undertake ‘real world’ research to affect positive change.

Jen is using some fellowship time from the Manchester Institute of Teaching and Learning to make this happen.  We will be growing the site and linking projects to our work around the Sustainable Development Goals. Students on Geography’s final year Governing Urban Transformations led by Joe Blakey will undertake one of these projects in groups.  Students on the 20 Credit University College of Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) course, Creating a Sustainable World: 21st Century Challenges and the SDGs will use these applied projects to make a difference in our local communities as part of their assessment.

If you would like to add any projects please email:

This site serves as a stop gap aiming to be useful during uncertain times.  We will grow this into a sustainable project through the original University Living Lab site:

Later down the line, we are happy to host research on the University Living Lab for Pedagogy site to the benefit of the author and the organisation who set the project.  Please send the work through to Jen (

*The University Living lab initiative was originally funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute and the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

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