Case studies

Previous year's students tackled a range of challenges set by University of Birmingham academics, some of which were awarded prizes by our supporting organisations.

See what previous year's students had to say about their experience in The Birmingham Project in the case studies below or visit our The Birmingham Project Wordpress site for more examples.

'Can money buy you happiness?'

Money buy happiness 2014This challenge was supported by PwC and led by Dr. Glyn Watson, Director of College of Social Sciences.

The challenge team's award-winning online resource can be viewed here.

This group won the IBM Award for Best Output

The IBM prize invites the winning team to participate in a 'Made with IBM' day at IBM headquarters as well as have their output published on the official IBM & BP digital magazine.


Name: Jay Nathwani

Course discipline: BSc Money, Banking & Finance

What skills have you developed?

“I mainly developed my teamworking skills throughout the project. Working with other students from different disciplines makes the project more interesting as you have people with various talents and skills, which we tried to make the most of.

I also developed my organisational and time management skills in terms of trying to meet deadlines that we set ourselves throughout the project. Forming a timeframe, working backwards from our final presentation date, really helped put the work into perspective and meant that we juggled our time fairly effectively. Hopefully these are skills I will be able to take forward from this project into future teamwork exercises.”

How did your group tackle your challenge?

“We began by discussing what we wanted to achieve from this project, with input from our academic lead and PGTA. We decided to explore various avenues through philosophical, psychosocial, economic and neuroscientific academic papers as a preliminary exercise. This enabled us to make a more informed decision as to what we wanted to convey in terms of answering our project question.

We felt our ideal target audience would be students coming to this university as, now more than ever, money plays a key role in student's decisions to come to university and thus undoubtedly impacts upon their happiness at university. As a result, we came up with the idea to form an online, interactive student magazine where we applied our findings to advise prospective students, as well as existing students.

The overall aim of the magazine is to allow students to maximise their happiness during their time at university, for very little money. Our focus was to apply the academic research to student life.”

What would you say to first year students considering signing up to the project next year?

“The project is a great learning experience where you will not only learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses, but also learn how to work as a team, so you can utilise each other’s strengths.

At some point during your time at university you will have to work in a group with other students and this is a great way to gain some of the vital skills you need to be successful in those groups.

It is also a great way to develop many fundamental skills such as organisation, time management and project management. It is very differently structured to many modules at university as it allows you to be as creative as you can be and I think this is what makes it ultimately a great diverse learning experience.

You also get to meet new people from around the university; we had a combination of Chemical Engineering, Geology, Law, Biochemistry, Electrical Engineering, Finance, Mathematical Science and Business Management students. Try meeting that combination at Fab!

The project is also very rewarding in terms of the prizes available, which really motivated us throughout the project.”

'What is happiness and how do we get it?'

This challenge was posed by Dr. Jon Catling, lecturer in Psychology, and involved conducting research at Cadbury World to discover how we can get happiness.

This group won the PwC Award for Best Team

The PwC prize invites the winning team to a PwC Insight Day; a highly contended event which students across the country apply to participate in. 

Name: Lara Akindeinde

Course discipline: BSc Biological Sciences

What skills have you developed?

“Through my participation in the Birmingham Project I have gained a valuable insight into project management. I have gained experience in project planning, research and presentation design; all experience I will find useful during my degree and in future.

From working in a team, I have developed my skills in communication and negotiation, key elements to the project’s success.

How did your group tackle your challenge?

“As a group we initially assigned individual roles, based on our strengths and weaknesses in order to ensure we worked efficiently– both independently and as a group. We then looked at our project title and began brainstorming ideas.

Once we had a number of ideas on paper, we chose the best ones to carry forward and began to plan how we should carry forward our project. We were careful to keep within the two week project scope which included completing the project, a peer evaluation and our group presentation.”

What would you say to first year students considering signing up to the project next year?

“I would advise first year students to seize this opportunity to take on a new experience and engage themselves in a worthwhile project. It is a great way to end their first year at Birmingham with something completely different to any course they are studying."

"It will give them the opportunity to meet people outside their course and start thinking about future employment plans with useful advice from organisations such as PwC and IBM.”

Sum up The Birmingham Project experience in 3 words:

"Fun. Challenging. Innovative."

How can Birmingham become a Cycling City?

Cycling Bham 2014
This challenge was set by Prof. James Tucker, Professor in Supramolecular Chemistry, and involved collaborating with on campus cycling businesses, Sustainable Travel and Urban Cycles.
The challenge team's online resource can be found here.
Name: Temitope Bodunrin

Course discipline: BSc Biochemistry

What skills have you developed?

“I have developed my teamwork skills and gained confidence in using my initiative and communication skills.The majority of project relied on close interaction between team members, therefore co-operating and working with the team every day was vital to the project’s success.

A lot of our activities focused on thinking critically and developing our confidence in conducting research.”

How did your group tackle your challenge?

“We assigned project roles in the team such as researchers, data analysts and presentation delivery. This ensured the project scope was appropriate for the two week timescale and a number of tasks could be undertaken at once.”

What would you say to first year students considering signing up to the project next year?

“Go for it. You will gain invaluable experience of project management.”

Sum up The Birmingham Project experience in 3 words:

"Engaging. Practical. Fun."