PhD research

Our PhD photo competition is now open for entries! FoNS PhD students are invited to submit an image and an accompanying narrative that effectively engages and communicates your research project to a non-specialist audience.

PhD image competition dates

The deadline to submit an image and narrative is 17.00 on 20 February 2023.

Enter the competition

A panel of judges will shortlist the best images and choose the prize winners. The announcement of the shortlisted candidates will be on the week commencing 6 March 2023. Shortlisted images will be exhibited on the Faculty’s website and communications channels, and there will be the opportunity for Imperial staff and students to vote for their favourite image (People’s Choice Award).

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend the exhibition event organised by the Faculty on the 15 March 2023, 16.00-18.00, in the College main entrance on Exhibition Road (South Kensington campus).

Shortlisted images will be exhibited on the 15 March from the morning to allow Imperial staff, students and visitors to view them. A short ceremony with a drinks reception will take place from 16.00. Prizes will be awarded at 17.00.


Two prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges and one prize as a result of a vote by Imperial staff and students:

Judges' Choice awards

  • Best image prize worth £250
  • Runner-up image prize worth £200

People's Choice award

  • Prize worth £150

Selection criteria

The panel of judges will sift submissions against eligibility criteria (see below) and the following themes:

  • Technical skill: what are the technical qualities of the image, including clarity, lighting and framing?
  • Impact: does the image captured the imagination of the viewer? Is it likely to inspire?
  • Communication: is the narrative accessible to the layperson and does it describe the image and its message accurately? Does it compliment the image and enhance its impact?

Eligibility criteria

Applicant requirements

To apply you must be a PhD student currently registered in the Faculty of Natural Sciences (Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Life Sciences, Mathematics and Centre for Environmental Policy). Entrants are limited to one submission.

Image requirements

The submitted image may be portrait or landscape (shortlisted images will be printed in A2). You may also submit a second (same) image with labels/annotations. This may allow the audience to understand better the structure or components of your image. Note judges will not view/score any labelled images.

Submit your entries as JPEG/JPG files, maximum 100Mb in size. A2 printed size will be 4961 pixels x 7016 pixels at 300dpi.

Please include your name in the title of the file.

Images may be black and white or in colour, taken with any kind of camera. Minor adjustments are allowed, such as minor changes in cropping, sharpening, contrast, etc. Significantly altered or artistically enhanced photos are not accepted. The judges may request the original file/RAW/negative of your photo to verify this.

Images taken by someone other than the applicant are not allowed.

Image caption requirements

  • Your image title should ideally be 2-5 words with a strict maximum of 10 words.
  • Your accompanying narrative/caption should ideally be 80-100 words with a strict maximum of 110 words.
  • Your image narrative must give a description of your image and place in the context of your research.
  • Your narrative must be accessible to a non-specialist audience. Do not use acronyms.

Ethics requirements

  • You must not do anything to injure or distress an animal or damage its habitat in an attempt to secure an image.
  • You must ensure that the personal safety of everyone involved is appropriately handled. Avoid taking unnecessary risks that can result in dangerous situations.
  • You are responsible for ensuring full compliance with any applicable national or international legislation.
  • Respect the work of other photographers and do not plagiarize.
  • If the panel suspects that an entry has been achieved through cruel or unethical practices, the entry will be disqualified.

How to apply

Applicants should complete the electronic form:

Enter the competition

The deadline to submit your image (via the online form) is 20 February at 17.00. Images received after the deadline will not be accepted for this competition.

Please read the terms and conditions of the competition. You will need to agree on these terms when you submit your entry.

Terms and conditions

It is the responsibility of participants to ensure that the images they are submitting are their own work, that they own the copyright for them and that they do not infringe on the copyright or other rights of any third party.

It is the responsibility of participants to ensure that the images do not infringe any laws. Copyright for the submitted images remains with their authors. However, by entering the competition, participants are granting the Faculty of Natural Sciences irrevocable, perpetual permission for non-commercial use of the images online and in print, in any promotional materials related to the competition, and in an exhibition on campus.

Any question please contact Dr Ester Buchaca-Domingo (