Take Part

Map the System asks you to demonstrate a deep understanding of a pressing social or environmental issue by mapping out the landscape of current solutions and identifying missing opportunities for change.

Why enter?

By participating in Map the System, you’ll have the opportunity to make connections with socially-conscious students, faculty, and practitioners from within your school and the wider community. You’ll get to compete with other teams from across your institution, and you could be selected to attend the Global Final in Oxford, UK, where you’ll compete with teams from all over the world to win cash prizes.

But more importantly, you’ll get to work in a team to research a real-world problem, learn about organisations working the field, and create a visual map of the system that others can learn from in the future.

Who is the competition for?

This competition is for you if any of the following apply:

% You have a passion for or lived experience of a particular social/environmental challenge and would like to investigate this problem fully to understand what sort of intervention in the system would be most effective

% You are looking to have a high-impact career and want to understand where your unique skill set can be best applied to effect lasting change

% You want to get an internship related to your chosen issue and want to understand what organisations are out there

% You have an existing solution, product or business idea in mind, but would like to research the issue area thoroughly to understand what solutions have already been tried, and are willing to pivot your idea based on your findings

Map the System is less well suited to those whose business idea or start-up enterprise is further advanced to the point where pivoting their model is not feasible at this stage.

Eligibility criteria

% You can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to five people.

% At least one member of the team must be a current student at any of our partner institutions (enrolled on a course of 6 months or longer), OR a recent graduate of one of those institutions (i.e. having completed studies within 12 months of the date you register for the competition).

% Students may be at undergraduate, diploma, postgraduate or doctoral level.

Your institution may have additional eligibility criteria so please get in touch with the Map the System contact at your institution in the first instance, and they will be able to advise you.


Key Dates

18 September 2017 –
22 January 2018


To participate in Map the System, you first need to register online. Tell us a few details about your team, topic, and what you hope to learn.

Registration for 2018 is now closed.

Once registered, we’ll send you periodic announcements about the competition and reminders about upcoming deadlines. Your host institution will review your proposal and may be able to provide you with feedback on the suitability of your chosen topic so that any adjustments may be made before the final submissions deadline in late March.

26 March 2018

Final submissions deadline

You have until 26 March at 23:59 GMT to submit your final materials via an online form. By that date you need to submit three documents:

1. Visual map or chart

2. Analysis of research

3. Bibliography

Full details about what should be contained in each of these documents can be found in the Submissions Guidelines.

26 March –
27 April 2018

Shortlisting and selection by judges

Each institution will have a panel of judges who will review and select their students’ entries to Map the System. Your institution may hold a local presentation event, or select the winner through review of submissions alone.

Once selected, your institution’s winning team or individual will be invited to the Global Final event in Oxford. Finalists will be notified by 27 April at the latest.

1 – 3 June 2018

Map the System Global Final event

The final event will be held at the University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will present their ideas to compete for the three top prizes.

Participants will benefit from personalised feedback from a panel of expert judges, who work in impact-focused organisations such as private foundations, impact investment firms, and social enterprises. Furthermore, finalists will have the opportunity to build relationships with students from a range of other schools and universities, all of whom are passionate about positive social change.

In addition to the final presentation event, finalists will attend a traditional Oxford College dinner, and receive a keynote address by an influential social impact leader.



How to Apply

Stage 1

1. Check the eligibility criteria and key dates to make sure you are able to participate.

2. Form a team (or go it alone). You can enter the competition as an individual or team of up to five people.

3. Choose your topic. See our guidance page for advice on how to select an appropriate topic.

4. Register online. Tell us a bit about your topic, what you plan to research and who’s on your team. Registration is open from 18 September 2017 until 22 January 2018. The earlier you register, the longer you’ll have to work on your submission!

Stage 2

As soon as you’ve registered to take part in the competition, you can begin your research.

5. Use the resources to guide you. We have a list of recommended resources, including the Impact Gaps Canvas tool and videos of last year’s final presentations. Talk to your institution as they may have other resources to recommend.

6. Research thoroughly. The best submissions are those that draw upon a wide range of sources, such as journal articles, academic literature, policy documents, surveys, and in-person or phone interviews. You can revise or refine your topic at this stage, if you need to.

7. Create your visual map, analysis report and bibliography. The judges will be looking for a submission that is visually appealing, easy to understand, demonstrates thorough research, and draws out key insights and opportunities for change.

8. Submit. Upload your final documents via our online form no later than 26 March 2018.


Next: Read the guidelines on how to structure your submission and what the judges are looking for:

Submission Guidelines > >