The aim of the 4Cs science communication competition is to provide postgraduate students from all disciplines across the College with the chance to develop their 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.

The competition is open to ALL postgraduate students from across the College.

Please note that the next competition will take place in March 2023.  Full details will be announced in January 2023.  Please look out for emails from your Department and the Graduate School about the competition in the new year.

General information about how to take part can be found below. 

How to Apply, Eligibility and Prizes


  • Entrants must be studying for a postgraduate qualification at Imperial (MSc, MRes, PhD etc.).
  •  Entrants can present 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
  • Presentations should be aimed at a lay audience

How to Apply

Students will be able to apply directly to the Graduate School in order to enter. Please note that some departments may be holding preliminary heats, so check with your administrative team before applying. 

In order to enter, please email the information requested below to the Graduate School by the application deadline:

  • The slide due to be used in your presentation (PowerPoint only)
  • A short 150-word summary or a pre-recorded elevator pitch of no longer that 1 minute 30 seconds, giving an overview of the research to be presented
  • Three interesting facts about the entrant, unrelated to their research 

Application Deadline

The deadline for students, Departments, programmes, institutes and CDTs to apply/submit their entrants will be announced in January 2023. All of the items requested above MUST be submitted by this deadline. 

If you have any questions or queries regarding the above, please email the Graduate School. 


Members of staff from within the Graduate School will review all applications and shortlist the top 18 entries using the same criteria that the judges will be using on the day of the competition itself.

If you have been shortlisted to take part in the competition you will be contacted directly with further information.

Students shortlisted for the live competition will be invited to attend a presentation skills course on Tuesday 28 February 2023, 14:00-17:00, in-person teaching (South Kensington Campus).  For doctoral students, attendance at this course will count towards the Graduate School’s professional skills attendnace requirement.

Competition Rules

Each presenter will have three minutes to deliver their presentation to the audience and a panel of expert judges. Creativity is encouraged and the presenters can visualise their concepts in a variety of ways, using props, poems, songs or PowerPoint slides (see below). After each presentation, the judges will have two minutes to ask questions and make comments. When the time runs out, the next presenter will be introduced.

The Rules

  • Presenters have three minutes maximum to present and competitors exceeding three minutes will be disqualified. The timer will start as soon as they begin speaking, moving, or interacting with the audience
  • Each presenter will be given two minutes following their presentation to answer questions from the judges
  • Creativity is encouraged and the presentation can be delivered in any way the competitor chooses; props, poems, songs as well as PowerPoint slides are all allowed. Pre-recorded material e.g. video/audio recordings, are not permitted
  • Presenters should ensure that they communicate the science clearly and that the information presented is scientifically accurate
  • Presenters can only use props they can carry onto the stage themselves (there will be no time for set up)
If the competition runs remotely, the following criteria will also apply,
  • Presentations will be delivered live via MS Teams
  • Presenters may use a maximum of one PPT slide alongside their webcams
  • Presenters are not permitted to leave the field of vision on their webcam

Shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend the Graduate School’s Science Communication Presentations Skills workshop, which is due to take place at the beinning of March (date TBC) For doctoral students, attendance at this workshop will count towards the Graduate School’s professional skills attendnace requirement.


A panel of expert judges will score and select the top three presentations in order to award first-third place. Voting for the People's Choice Award will open on the day of the competition. All prize winners will be announced once all of the presentations have take place.

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 16 February 2022 deadline. 

Judging Criteria

A panel of three judges will determine the winners on the basis of the following judging criteria, with each being scored out of 10:  

  • 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.
  • Charisma/Performance: How convincing was the presentation? The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. A successful presentation will be one which makes the science exciting, entertaining and easy to listen to.


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 the People's Choice Award, will be available in due course.

The 4 C's