The Oxford Strategy Challenge

The Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) is a team-based experiential learning event with participants working on real strategy-focused client challenges over a week.

TOSCA is an opportunity for you to develop a broad range of transferable skills including teamwork, leadership, communication and business awareness. These along with the client relationship experience, will help you demonstrate your potential in applications, on your CV and in interviews.

You will work with a small team providing consultancy on a client project. The project you will work on will be important to your client, an opportunity for hands-on client work experience, and to make a real contribution to an organisation.

TOSCA is an intense challenge. Once you have received your client brief you will work hard with your team to complete the project in a short time period: you will have five days to tackle the challenge.

We will run TOSCA regularly each month and are planning for ten events over the next twelve months.

What will you get out of it?

TOSCA provides you with real-world client work experience and development opportunities across eight key employment skills: team working, communication, initiative, creativity, planning, leadership, self-management and business awareness.

You also have the opportunity to develop skills in working effectively as part of a remote team, managing a client relationship, collecting data under time pressure, reacting quickly to unexpected changes, and summarising and presenting your findings to a client.

Apply now on CareerConnect for the March-April programme

Note that places are limited and applications will close early if the programme is over subscribed.

We have now opened applications for all of our programmes at the start of 2021 on CareerConnect. The schedule for each programme and application links can be found under 'Programme dates' below. Early applications are advised.

How does it work?

TOSCA is a team-based, experiential learning event. Every aspect of the process will present a learning opportunity. It is a remote working programme. We will run an assessment process with an online selection exercise before participants progress to training sessions to prepare them for their client project work.

Assessment and Training

The programme begins with an assessment centre task and two training sessions. The assessment task will require to you submit a short video. You will then be placed in your team (usually of four people) and given a short case study to complete as a team before each training session. The online training sessions will prepare you for the project work.Topics will include an introduction to consultancy and consulting techniques, managing the client relationship and reporting your recommendations.

Once you have completed both training sessions you will be given your client brief.

Project work

The challenge starts with a briefing call with the client on a Thursday. Your team will work over the weekend through to Wednesday when you will present your findings to your client. There will be the opportunity of an additional check-in call with your client on the Friday.

Graduation event

We will wrap up the Oxford Strategy Challenge with an online graduation event for you to network with others and share your experience and feedback. 

From participants...

Thank you so much for providing this opportunity, it has been eye-opening in many respects and has given me confidence to apply my research skills in a non-academic context.

The programme was excellent. It gave us initiative, allowed us to think and manage for ourselves, and will be a really useful addition for my CV.

I found this a really helpful experience - I went in wanting to test myself and I feel that I did that 100% and was quite surprised by how much I managed to achieve in such a short time frame, from conceptualising the problem(s) to collecting significant amounts of data and synthesising all this for the final report and recommendations - it was incredibly valuable.

Our client was so helpful and seemed really interested in our work. They were great to work for and I have remained in touch with them.

Beyond the Oxford Strategy Challenge

Once you have successfully completed the Oxford Strategy Challenge, you might want to consider signing up for The Student Consultancy (TSC). This 4-6 week original programme invites past Oxford Strategy Challenge participants to address a strategic issue or business challenge for a client organisation, and allows them to gain more in-depth consulting experience. 

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What will it cost me?

There is no cost to you for taking part. You won’t be charging for your projects so there will be no charge to the organisations either.

How much time will it take?

This is an intense programme. As an indication, previous participants have allocated around 2-4 hours per day for the five days of client work. However this is flexible and the time you decide to allocate to this programme will depend on the nature of the work and how you distribute workload in your team.

We understand that participants may be undertaking the Challenge alongside academic work and that academic commitments take priority. Participants are encouraged to proactively discuss capacity with their team throughout the Challenge. The Careers Service is available to answer queries during the programme.

Does it matter what subject I’m studying or what year I am in?

Absolutely not – we welcome current students from 1st years to DPhils and researchers; from English to Medical science students – with everything in between. In light of the current situation, we also invite applications from unemployed or under-employed alumni who graduated in 2020 and feel that the programme would benefit their job search.

Unfortunately, due to high demand, we cannot accept applications from Said Business School students, Visiting Students, alumni who graduated prior to 2020, or those who have previously participated (you can apply if you have applied before but were not accepted).

Participants in the Oxford Strategy do not receive a consultancy payment for undertaking the Challenge.Researchers who are interested in taking part in the Strategy Challenge and who are funded by the Wellcome Trust may find the following statement from the Wellcome Trust useful: "Funds provided on Trust grants may be used flexibly to cover the costs of formal transferable skills and personal development training courses for our postdoctoral researchers and fellows.” (

How long will the assessment centre last?

The assessment centre task consists of a short video which you will be asked to record and submit via Canvas. You will be given 24 hours to complete this task. There will be an opportunity for feedback on your assessment submisison at the end of the programme.

What do I need in order to take part?

The programme will be delivered entirely online via Canvas. You will need internet access for the duration of the programme. The assessment centre will consist of a short video submission which can be completed using Canvas software and laptop/device with a camera. Training will be delivered live via Teams. Client meetings will take place remotely.

I was looking for The Student or Researcher Consultancy programmes. Are these programmes still running? 

At this time of Covid-19 disruption The Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) is an online team-based client experience programme run on a monthly cycle. The Student Consultancy (TSC) runs termly as a progression opportunity for those who have completed the Strategy Challenge. There are no plans to run the Researcher Strategy Consultancy (RSC) and The Agency at this time. TOSCA is open to Oxford undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers as well as alumni graduating in 2020.

March/April Programme - applications now open on CareerConnect


Activity schedule Key dates (times are GMT)
Applications Close By 9am on Fri 12 March
Selection Assessment submission by applicants online By midnight Tues 16 March
Successful applicants invited to training Thurs 18 March
Training Participants confirm they will attend training By end of Mon 22 March
Online training sessions (x2) Tues 23 March  & Weds 24 March (both 13:00 - 14:30)
Project work Meet the client online Thurs 25 March (meeting scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00)
Client ‘check-in’ meeting (optional) Fri 26 March
Client presentations Weds 31 March
Graduation event Wrap-up and review event Tues 6 April (13:30 - 15:00)

April/May Programme - applications now open on CareerConnect


Activity schedule Key dates (times are GMT)
Applications Close By 9am on Fri 16 April
Selection Assessment submission by applicants online By midnight Tues 20 April
Successful applicants invited to training Thurs 22 April
Training Participants confirm they will attend training By end of Mon 26 April
Online training sessions (x2) Tues 27 May & Weds 28 April (both 13:00 - 14:30)
Project work Meet the client online Thurs 29 April (meeting scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00)
Client ‘check-in’ meeting (optional) Fri 30 April
Client presentations Weds 5 May
Graduation event Wrap-up and review event Thurs 6 May (13:00 - 14:30)



May/June Programme - applications now open on CareerConnect


Activity schedule Key dates (times are GMT)
Applications Close By 9am on Fri 14 May
Selection Assessment submission by applicants online By midnight Tues 18 May
Successful applicants invited to training Thurs 20 May
Training Participants confirm they will attend training By end of Mon 24 May
Online training sessions (x2) Tues 25 May & Weds 26 May (both 13:00 - 14:30)
Project work Meet the client online Thurs 27 May (meeting scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00)
Client ‘check-in’ meeting (optional) Fri 28 May
Client presentations Weds 2 June
Graduation event Wrap-up and review event Thurs 3 June (13:00 - 14:30)

If you have any questions about the programme or about accessing either the assessment centre, training sessions, or client meetings please email

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