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The COP26 Challenge

Present your research and win up to £500

Deadline: 5pm on Friday 12 November
(final day of COP26)

The upcoming COP26 conference, being held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, is a unique opportunity to highlight the global challenges and impacts of climate change. The University’s student body should be at the forefront of contributing to, engaging with, and discussing climate change and its local and global impact.

[X]ceptional: The COP26 Challenge is a new initiative that allows students in the College of Social Sciences to engage in this discussion by presenting their own, original research that engages with any element of climate change.


[X]ceptional research topics can include, but are not limited to: 

  • The politics of climate change 

  • Climate change at the local level 

  • Climate change on a global level 

  • Climate change and education 

  • Climate change and the law (national and international) 

  • Climate change, health and (in)equality 

  • The economics and business of climate change 

Submission formats

[X]ceptional submissions can be made in multiple formats. Possible formats range from, but are not limited to:

  • Traditional essay/research papers (max. 5,000 words) 

  • Poster presentations 

  • Video presentations (max. 15 minutes) 

  • Podcasts (max. 15 minutes) 

  • Infographics and other multimedia submissions 


Judging and awards

All submissions will be reviewed and judged by an interdisciplinary panel of staff based in LEADS for Students, utilising the set of criteria below. 



  • Four ‘winners’ (£500 each) 

  • Five ‘runners-up’  (£200 each) 


Winning entries will be hosted on the COP26 website for the College of Social Sciences. All entries, including those not selected as winners, will be hosted here on the [X]ceptional website.


  • The submission must communicate a central, coherent research topic/research discussion

  • The submission must present the research topic/research discussion in a clear and well-articulated fashion

  • The submission must present the research topic/research discussion in a manner accessible to a broad, non-specialist audience

  • The submission must present the research topic/research discussion in a manner likely to generate interest

  • The submission must present, outline and defend a line of argument that furthers the research topic/research discussion

  • The submission must follow standard rules of academic integrity and good academic practice

  • Any forms of written submissions should use Harvard style references, and must also supply a bibliography

  • Any forms of multimedia or non-traditional formats should still include a discussion of the research topic; a piece of work that makes recommendations to the public, for example, would not be sufficient on its own without also incorporating a discussion of at least some of your research that led to such recommendations

  • The research/topic under discussion must relate to the broad theme of climate change and its global/local impacts

Training and preparation

The winning submissions will be very different from anything submitted as part of your University coursework, since the audience for [X]ceptional should be anyone, from any subject background. We are therefore offering a bespoke suite of training sessions to help you adapt your work so that it can meet the criteria above.

We've advertised these by email, and you can browse the recordings and slides below.

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