Frequently Asked Questions

About Map the System

Map the System is a global learning programme and competition that asks students and educators to think differently about social and environmental change.

Students select a social or environmental issue to explore, probe and research all the connecting elements and factors around it. They then apply systems-mapping tools and analysis, and prepare written and oral communications to share their insights in a way that people can meaningfully understand, share, and learn from.

We believe social entrepreneurship education can be improved. We know there are increasing numbers of students across the globe interested in entrepreneurship for systems-change – there are hack-a-thons, start-up weekends, and business plan competitions – all asking students for their solutions to social and/or environmental problems through new enterprises.

But social transformation doesn’t happen in a silo, nor does it come from one person or one great idea. And often students are proposing solutions to problems that they have no lived experience of, and don’t fully understand.

We want to encourage and develop a learning-first approach to social change, where people understand and build upon existing efforts before starting something new.

This approach was developed by Daniela Papi-Thornton as part of her research on “Tackling Heropreneurship”, which you can learn more about here.

Social change is complicated. Mapping is a way of understanding its complexities. It allows us to think about context and the many interacting factors that contribute to the development of the issues facing us – economic forces, political movements or global trends. It gives us the tools to understand the whole picture and takes us out of our silos.

Map the System is run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, in partnership with educational institutions across the world who each run the competition at their institution.

Questions About Taking Part

You can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to 6 people.

At least one member of the team must be a current student at a partner institution (enrolled on a course of 6 months or longer), OR a recent graduate of a partner institution (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. Please get in touch with your local Map the System contact for further information.

If you are not a student or recent graduate at one of the institutions participating in Map the System, you may still be able to enter by joining an existing team at one of those institutions. Please contact your nearest participating institution to see if there are opportunities to join a team.

Yes, we accept submissions from individuals and teams of up to six.

Please contact us if you are interested in submitting multiple entries or joining multiple teams. We are happy to allow it if the situation merits it, but we suggest that winning teams will put significant effort into their entries and highly recommend you focus on one topic.

If you participated in the competition previously, you may enter again this year provided you were not the recipient of a prize at the Global Final. You may re-enter with the same topic or a different one – however, if you choose the same topic, you will need to demonstrate significant progress in your research and understanding of the topic since last year. You may not simply re-submit the same materials you submitted previously – if you do so your entry will not be considered.

If you were the recipient of 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize at last year’s Global Final, you may not re-enter the competition this year.

See our Submission Guidelines page, which has detailed guidance on how to select your topic.

If you are still not sure about your topic, get in touch with the Map the System contact at your institution and they may be able to advise you.

The global competition is on pause for 2024, planned to return for the academic year beginning September 2024. See the Overview page, for additional details.

See our Submission Guidelines page, which includes the current project components and how the projects are assessed.

In 2023, we issued the following cash prizes:

1st Prize – £4,000 cash prize
2nd Prize – £3,000 cash prize
3rd Prize – £2,000 cash prize

We also issued a number of excellence awards.

In addition, your institution may provide its own prizes and development opportunities to finalists.

Prizes and Excellence awards for MTS 2025 will be confirmed in September 2024.

Some institutions have incorporated this competition into a for-credit programme. Please check with the Map the System contact at your institution and they will be able to advise you.

You are welcome to reuse and build upon any of your own previous work. We ask that you cite all the sources that you use, including your own.

This is not a business plan competition, but there are thousands of such competitions available around the world. If you are already deep into your solution and looking to design the specifics of a social intervention, business plan, or non-profit start-up and are looking for funding, mentorship, or support to start your project, then you should consider entering a different type of competition. However, if you are already thinking about a solution but are interested in taking a step back and learning more about the problem and landscape of other solutions already being tried, then Map the System is for you.

After learning about the problem and landscape of current solutions, you are asked to identify “impact gaps.” Depending on what you find in your research, you might find that one of the gaps you identify is indeed related to the solution you had in mind before starting this competition. You are welcome to include it in your presentation and explain how your learning from the mapping process would aid the design of such an intervention, but to be successful in the Map the System process, you will also need to identify a range of other impact gaps. You might include information about gaps in government regulation, opportunities for knowledge sharing or improvements to existing efforts, or other ideas for new interventions.

If you focus ONLY on “your” solution to the problem, you will not be successful in this process. But if you use the Map the System process to learn a lot more about your chosen issue, it should contribute to your ability to come up with a successful intervention in the future – whether that is an internship or job opportunity you discover through this process, or a new venture you launch related to this topic in the future.

We will publish the submissions of the finalists on our website. We may also publish the submissions from other teams who submit high quality work. By entering this competition, you grant the Map the System team the right to publish your work on this website.

Whilst our recommendation is the Harvard citation method, please use whatever citation style you are most comfortable with. Where possible, include links so that your audience can navigate to the source themselves.

If you are inserting a chart or table borrowed from an external source in your presentation, please add a caption immediately next to it to show that it is from another source (e.g. “Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2012”). Also provide a link to the report or include a full citation in your references section.

If we decide to publish your work on our website, we will ask you to indicate if your submission contains any copyrighted work that we cannot re-publish without permission. For these references, we expect that you will work with us to either secure the appropriate rights, or replace the content with content that is freely available.

Be sure not to include confidential information in your submission (information that you are not permitted to disclose publicly). For example, you should not include information provided in a private interview if the interviewee was not made aware that you are planning to publish the information.

We expect that most teams will spend approximately 30-50 hours (per member) preparing the initial submission. This can vary significantly, depending on the nature of the topic and any collaborations with partners. The more time put into the project, the more insights you will gain, however it's also possible to optimise time contribution through task and role distribution across the team e.g. one person focuses on the write up, another on learning systems mapping tools, another on preparing the presentation slides.

For the final submission we require the following 3 components:

(1) A visual systems map/chart (suggested formats are PowerPoint, Prezi, PDF or jpg – but other visual formats are acceptable)

(2) An analysis of your research and key findings (not exceeding 3,000 words, excluding footnotes and citations) – required formats are Word, PDF, PowerPoint or Prezi

(3) A detailed bibliography

Finalists will also be required to prepare a 10-minute verbal presentation for purposes of the presentation event – suggested format is PowerPoint or Prezi.

By submitting an entry, you declare that your submission is entirely your work (except for the sources cited), and that the information presented is accurate to the best of your knowledge. You also grant the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, a royalty-free, perpetual license to share and publish any portion of your submission.

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 your relevant Semi-Final event. The top teams from the Semi-Final will advance to the Global Final event in Oxford, UK.

Questions About The Online Semi-Finals and Global Final (NB details are from 2023 and are subject to change for MTS 2025)

In the past, one finalist team from each institution was invited to an online Semi-Final event. For the 2023 competition, these took place in May 2023, the top teams advancing to the Global Final in Oxford, UK in July 2023.

The top shortlisted teams from the Semi-Finals are invited to advance to the Global Final. In July 2023, this took place in-person in Oxford, UK with the top 17 global teams participating in a 5-day event with a dedicated learning programme.

One team/individual from each institution will be selected to progress to their respective Semi-Final. The top shortlisted teams from each Semi-Final will advance to the Global Final where they will compete with teams from all over the world for the three top prizes. Finalists from each institution will be informed by their institution that they are advancing to the Semi-Finals. In 2023, selection for the Global Final took place in May 2023 when teams were invited to attend the Global Final in Oxford.

The shortlisted Global Finalist teams will present their research to a panel of judges at the Global Final. The approximate agenda of the event will be:

3 days of Learning activities geared towards helping you perfect your presentation, connect with other participants, and looking ahead to Systems Practice beyond the competition. We will also aim to provide advice and feedback to help refine your presentations, including 1-1 feedback with storytelling experts. There will be a welcome and introduction from the Skoll Centre team, followed by informal networking activities. There will also be dedicated sessions for Educators.

2 days of competition, day 1: Round 1 presentations. All teams are given a slot to present to a panel of judges. After all teams have presented, 6 teams will be selected to progress to the final round on Sunday.

Day 2 of competition: Round 2 presentations. The 6 selected teams will present again to a panel of judges and an external audience. The public and Global Final participants will be invited to watch the final presentations virtually and cheer on the finalists. After the presentations, the three winners will be announced and prizes awarded. A more detailed agenda will be provided ahead of the next planned global final (Summer 2025).

At the Global Final, each team will have 10 minutes to deliver their presentation, followed by approximately 7-10 minutes of Q&A from the judges.

You can choose who from your team does the presenting — this could be one, two, or all members of your team. However, ALL members of the team should be in attendance during the presentation(s) and prepared to answer questions during the judges’ Q&A.

Judges will be announced to Global Finalists ahead of the Global Final event.

Take a look at last year’s judging panel to find out who has participated in the past.

Questions From Educational Institutions

If you work for a post-secondary education institution, we would love to hear from you. We are not accepting new partnerships for Map the System 2024. The next cycle will open for the next Academic Year from September 2024 for Map the System 2025.

Read more details here about joining as a future partner institution.

For any queries, please get in touch with us at mapthesystem@sbs.ox.ac.uk.

The Institutional Registration Fee helps to support some of the costs of the Map the System programme. The programme is fully grant-funded and relies on the support of partner institutions to keep going. The partnership fee is subject to change, the fee for Map the System 2025 will be confirmed by Spring 2024.

We invite institutions to partner with us who meet the following criteria:

– Institutions must be a higher educational institution offering courses of 6 months or longer.

– Institutions must have internal capacity to support students throughout the cycle of the competition (mid-September to mid-June). As a guide, we recommend a minimum of one educator to support the administrative process AND one educator to advise students on the content of their submissions and provide feedback. However, it is ultimately up to the educators involved to decide how much time they wish to dedicate to supporting the competition’s activities.

– Institutions must commit to securing at least 3 registrations from teams/individuals at their institution, from which it will use the judging criteria provided to select one winning team or individual to progress to the Global Final event.

– Institutions must commit funds for the content development, final event costs, the costs to bring in high-calibre global judges, and sufficient prize money.

Participating institutions may choose whether to incorporate Map the System into their for-credit curriculum or run it as an extracurricular programme.

Yes, please contact mapthesystem@sbs.ox.ac.uk and our team will be happy to arrange a call to discuss further.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered above, please contact mapthesystem@sbs.ox.ac.uk