Youth and Community Leadership

Mātātahi tū, hapori ora
When young people are strong,
the community thrives

Changing the world through social action and innovation

The Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership (BYCL) degree will empower you to make positive and meaningful contribution to your community.

Become an agile leader

The BYCL is an exciting new degree, unlike any other degree in Australasia. The degree develops professional leadership and entrepreneurial skills for anyone passionate about issues such as sustainability, human rights, equality, and humanitarian efforts. It equips you to be a resilient and agile leader in a changing world, qualified to lead yourself and others toward beneficial social change. Not only that, you have enormous flexibility to build a degree that is exactly what you want it to be.

Connect for change

The University of Canterbury (UC) is well placed to lead such an innovative degree. After the 2011 earthquakes, the UC Student Volunteer Army gained international acclaim for their determined and inspiring work within the Christchurch community. Soon after, UC developed the CHCH101 Strengthening Communities through Social Innovation course, led by Associate Professor Billy Osteen.

Over seven years, 750 students have contributed over 25,000 hours of service to more than 50 community organisations and government agencies. CHCH101 has attracted international students from Japan, Vanuatu, and the USA.

The BYCL degree builds on this history. Community engagement is central to the degree with opportunities to create group projects and connect with UC’s community in Ōtautahi Christchurch, including marae visits with local iwi, volunteer efforts with the Student Volunteer Army, and work with the Children’s University.

UC also offers a Certificate in Youth and Community Leadership, available on campus, or by distance study for students studying from beyond Christchurch and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Make an impact

This degree helps meet a growing need for innovative leaders who can make an impact on national and global challenges faced by youth and other communities.

Both the Bachelor’s degree and the Certificate specifically appeal to:

  • Iwi and Pasifika youth and other cultural leaders
  • Activists aiming to bring about political or social change
  • Humanitarians promoting better wellbeing
  • Social entrepreneurs.

Check out the BYCL Youth work and development pathway.


In the Certificate in Youth and Community Leadership students will learn about leadership of the self, and leading with others, through exploration and experience of a wide range of contemporary leadership theories, including those that emanate from the unique culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. They will also will study learning: how and why people learn and what this means for leading change. Their final course will be CHCH101, the heritage service learning course that is at the heart of community engagement.

The Certificate in Youth and Community Leadership (CertYCL) is made up of 60 points of compulsory courses. This programme is an especially good option for working professionals and those already in leadership positions, or students who do not want to commit to the full bachelor’s degree. It can be completed in 12 months full-time, or up to 3 years part-time. Studying by distance is also an available option.

The Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership develops professional leadership and entrepreneurial skills for those passionate about issues such as sustainability, human rights, equality, and humanitarian efforts. BYCL builds on UC’s international reputation in social action, and offers real-world leadership and project experience by way of theoretical study and applied learning. The BYCL degree includes compulsory courses in each year, as well as a range of course options from other degrees. See ‘How do I plan my degree?’ for an example degree structure diagram.

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Youth and Community Leadership