Our story

Inspiring, supporting and empowering people from all backgrounds to study Social Sciences at university.

Educational Engagement and Widening Participation

Faculties and schools at the University of Leeds have been running outreach events with the public for over a century.

Outreach at Leeds is now managed by a dedicated department, Educational Engagement (EE). EE was established in 2012 with the mission to open access to Higher Education to students from all backgrounds.

Leeds has a strong tradition of widening participation to the University, and the University’s Access and Participation Plan (APP) sets out how we will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. Educational Engagement prioritises work with students from Low Participation Neighbourhoods and Widening Participation backgrounds as well as those students from ethnic backgrounds who are not proportionally represented at the University of Leeds.

The Social Sciences Team

The Social Sciences team is just one of a group of teams within EE dedicated to engaging pupils from schools and colleges in subject specific activities and events. Our diverse and inspiring programme of outreach activity mirrors the extensive portfolio of courses in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Business and the School of Geography.

The team works closely with academics, postgraduate researchers and undergraduate students who are excited to share their work and journeys into the Social Sciences with young people. Our rich and varied programme encourages students to explore and analyse the world around them, as well as develop their critical thinking and creativity. Delivered by experts in their field, our activities will provide tasters of university study, information about how these subjects will support future careers, and insights from current students who are passionate about their degree subjects as they share their higher education journeys. We also offer opportunities to visit campus and explore our practical and specialist spaces, lecture theatres, libraries and accommodation, to allow students to get a real experience of university life.

Many of our activities are targeted, so that we reach and support those students who are underrepresented at university in our subject areas, aligning with our APP commitments to the Office for Students.

A few examples of the projects that we are involved in are:

  • Pathways to Law  is a widening participation scheme for Year 12/13 students from under-represented backgrounds, who are interested in a career in law. This two-year programme aims to raise aspirations of young people, increase social mobility and help more young people progress into the legal sector.
  • Environment Futures and Political Futures are aimed at Year 12/13 students running from February to December. These online programmes are designed to develop an insight into the various courses and what it’s like to study at a Russell Group University, whilst enhancing skills and subject knowledge. Students will have the opportunity to take part in talks, workshops and other enrichment activities alongside their current studies.
  • StreetLaw is a community engagement project where undergraduate Law students deliver workshops within local secondary schools (Year 7-Year 13) to promote understanding about legal rights and responsibilities. Previous topics have included the Gender Pay Gap, Social Media Data Protection, Smishing and Employment Rights.
  • Social Sciences Summer School is an annual event where we invite Year 12 student to explore a topic (such as COP26) from the perspective of all the different social sciences via a range of interactive workshops delivered by academics and postgraduates. The programme is designed to introduce students to the range of social sciences that can be studied at university and to gain an insight in to university life by working with current student ambassadors.

Who we work with

The Social Sciences Outreach Team works in partnership with over 200 schools and colleges in the UK, professional bodies, companies and charities to deliver outstanding Social Science activities to students.

Alongside academics from across our subject specific schools and faculties at the university, we work with external partners and organisations to showcase the opportunities and values that a degree within the Social Sciences can offer. These partners include: Go Higher West Yorkshire, Leeds Minster, The Sutton Trust, Law firms (e.g. Irwin Mitchell, Shoosmiths), Yorkshire Life Aquatic.

How we help

We collect feedback following all our activities, in order to evaluate and continually improve our outreach offer, ensuring that it meets the needs of our participants and teachers.

Students involved in our outreach activities overwhelmingly report:

  • A greater understanding of the different career routes that social sciences subjects can lead to
  • A greater understanding of what life would be like if they went to university
  • A greater awareness of the social sciences subjects and courses available at Higher Education


“From a personal point of view, I would like to thank all of the organisers for giving up their own time and providing me with this fantastic experience.” Pathways to Law student

“I would not have been able to get as much work experience, insight into how legal professionals work had it not been for the amazing events you put on.” Pathways to Law student

“The [StreetLaw] sessions delivered were definitely well planned, and this reflected in their knowledge and passion for the subjects.” – Teacher feedback from a StreetLaw session

“The [StreetLaw] sessions were very good, particularly given the difficulty of delivering sessions virtually. The students were engaged in both sessions and the trainers were knowledgeable and enthusiastic.” – Teacher feedback from a StreetLaw session

“I just wanted to express how much I enjoyed the summer school and how thankful I am I was able to take part and to thank you and the rest of the team for making it all possible.” COP26 Summer School Participant