IMPORTANT - Due to the ongoing situation at College, the Presentation Competition, due to be held on the 20th of May 2020, has been cancelled. The deadline for the Writing Competition has been extended. Please see below for further details.

The aim of the 4Cs competition is to provide postgraduate students from all disciplines across the College with the chance to develop their writing, as well as presentation and communication skills. The event has been designed to ensure that all those entering are supported and are given the opportunity to develop in their endeavour to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. The competition allows for Creativity, Content, Clarity and Charisma (the 4 ‘C’s), in communicating science and research. Judges will look for and mark on these qualities.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing situation at College, the presentation competition has been cancelled this year. However, the writing competition will be taking place and is open to ALL postgraduate students from across the College - the deadline for this element has been extended to allow any students wishing to take part, the chance to do so. All written work should be submitted to the Graduate School by 17:00 on Thursday 7th of May 2020.

How to Apply, Eligibility and Prizes

Eligibility & Competition Criteria

 Entrants must be studying for a postgraduate qualification at Imperial (MSc, MRes, PhD etc.).

  •  Entrants can write about any aspect of the research they are working on
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final
  • All entrants, both Taught Course and Doctoral, will be judged via the same criteria
  • Written work should be aimed at a lay audience

The Writing Competition

Students are asked to submit a written article of no more than 500 words. The writing can take on any form, but the piece must be original, solely the work of the author and not published anywhere else in any format. Please note that pictures, videos etc. can also be embedded. Winners of the writing competition will be announced together with the winners of the presentation competition at the event in May and that the final prize winning articles will be published on the Graduate School’s blog.

 Written Articles - Entry Criteria

  • Comprise original work of no more than 500 words
  • Be creative, engaging and well-written
  • Communicate science clearly and be scientifically accurate
  • All submissions must be original, solely the work of a single author and not published anywhere else in any format
  • Pictures, videos etc. can be embedded
  • References must be included where appropriate and any audio/video material properly credited

Entrants are reminded that if they would like support with their writing, they can contact the Graduate School to arrange a one-to-one session with a member of the tutor team.

Shortlisting & Judging Criteria


Writing Competition: A panel of expert judges will score and select the top three entries received in order to award first-third place. The pieces of written work will be available to view on the Graduate School's website from Monday 15 June 2020, so that voting for the People's Choice Award can begin. All prize winners will be announced via the Graduate School's Twitter feed at 11:00 on Monday 29 June 2020.

Departmental Submissions: Please note that Departments who have held, or wish to hold internal, preliminary competitions, should submit the name of their candidate, together with the required information, by the 7 May 2020 deadline. 

Judging Criteria

A judging panel of 3-5 judges will determine the winners on the basis of three judging criteria: content, clarity and creativity.

  • Content: Quality of content is key in science communication and the scientific topic presented should be well chosen to suit a lay audience. Competitors should demonstrate the ability to explain their chosen topic clearly and concisely by avoiding excessive use of jargon or technical terms.
  • Clarity/Structure: A coherent narrative and clear structure are critical for effective science communication; as well as making sure the reader/audience/judges can follow the talk/narrative of the text, they should also be left with an understanding of the scientific concept chosen.
  • Creativity: Competitors are free to explore different rhetorical modes/modes of delivery for their presentation/article if they so wish. Judges will look favourably upon contestants who employ effective, insightful and engaging approaches.

How to Apply

Students will be able to apply directly to the Graduate School in order to enter, however some departments may be holding preliminary heats. Please check with your department. 

In order to apply, please email the below to the Graduate School

The Writing Competition
  • Finished written work for this element of the competition
  • Three interesting facts about the entrant, unrelated to their research*
  • Please ensure that your name, CID, Department and programme (PhD, MRes, MSc, ENgD etc), is included on your entry or in the covering email
Application Deadline

The deadline for students, Departments, programmes, institutes and CDTs to apply/submit their entrants is Thursday 7 May 2020. All of the items requested above MUST be submitted by this deadline.  

If you have any questions or queries about the competition, please email the Graduate School. 


Prizes for the competition are as follows,

1st Prize


2nd Prize


3rd Prize


People's Choice Award


Please note that further details regarding how you can vote for your favourite written article will be circulated in due course. Winners will be announced via the Graduate School's Twitter feed, at 11:00 on Monday 29 June 2020.

The 4 C's