Develop your public engagement skills and raise your research profile

The York Graduate Research School (YGRS) and the Building Research and Innovation Capacity (BRIC) Team invite all University of York PhD researchers to enter our annual PhD Spotlight Competition. This competition gives PhD Researchers an opportunity to engage the public with original and cutting edge research, through the medium of an interactive display/experience, as part of the York Talks public engagement event on 11 January 2023.

Learn more about our 2023 PhD Spotlight Finalists!

How to Enter PhD Spotlight 2023

The deadline to enter our 2023 competition has now passed - thank you to everyone who has applied!

The application includes: 

  • A 150 word summary of your research. This should be aimed at the public. You can use the 2020 PhD Spotlight booklet for inspiration.
  • A title for your display 
  • A 500 word display proposal. This should include:
    • How you intend to use the space (see “About your display” below), including whether you need any technology/equipment (we can’t guarantee to be able to accommodate all requests)
    • How you intend to engage the public with your display/experience (see judging criteria below)
  • You may include images/sketches/diagrams/video/concept art, or anything else that you feel will visually help your application, though this is not necessary.

Applicant Criteria

  • Any current University of York PhD student, at any stage, can apply 
    • including those in their continuation year
    • including if your study is split between two or more institutions
  • Joint applications will not be considered

About your display

While you are free to submit a poster for the competition, we encourage dynamic and creative displays and/or experiences. Each finalist will be offered at minimum:

  • A pair of Nimlok (display) boards. 
  • Either one large trestle table or two smaller exam tables.
  • Free use of the floor space around your area.
  • A small budget to buy props and print materials for your display.

You do not have to use all the resources provided.

Judging Criteria

Applications and finalists will be judged according to the following:

  • Creativity: Produce a display or experience with visual appeal and coherence
  • Impact: Relevance of your display outside a single field/accademia 
  • Communication: Inform the public and non-specialist audience about your research in exciting ways
  • Originality: The display should be based on your original research and contribution to knowledge 

Due to the high quality and number of applications we receive, we will not be able to consider proposals which do not address the above criteria.

The Final

The final will be an all-day event in the Ron Cook Hub on Wednesday 11th January 2023. Finalists will be expected to be set up by 9am and stay until the award ceremony. Finalists will engage with the public throughout the day, primarily in the breaks between the YorkTalk events

Important Dates

  • Midnight Sunday 11th December 2022: Applications for the competition close
  • Monday 19th December 2022: Results of applications will be released
  • Tuesday 3rd January 2023: Finalist will have submitted all their final preparation 
  • Wednesday 11th January 2023: The final event will be held in the Ron Cook Hub.

Further information

If you need more information, contact the BRIC team at


YorkTalks highlights some of the University's most innovative and challenging research in a series of accessible 15-minute talks over a single day. The poster competition takes place in conjunction with these talks, with three York PhD students from each of the three faculties presenting their research.