Skip to content Accessibility statement

PhD Spotlight competition: exhibit your research at YorkTalks 2018

Posted on 12 September 2017

Win a prize and raise the profile of your research.

YorkTalks logo

The inspiring 'YorkTalks' will return to the University of York on Wednesday 10 January 2018. Styled on the highly successful ‘TED’ Talks, YorkTalks highlights some of our most innovative and challenging research in an accessible series of 15-minute talks aimed at an academic, but non-specialist audience. The event will be held in the Spring Lane Building.

In conjunction with these talks, nine York PhD students will exhibit their research in a compelling “PhD Spotlight” competition, which takes the form of an exhibition. Awards will be presented by University of York Vice-Chancellor, Koen Lamberts, and there will be prizes for the winner of each faculty and the overall winner.

PhD Spotlight competition

PhD Spotlight competition exhibition

The York Graduate Research School (YGRS) would like to invite PhD students to take part in this prestigious opportunity:

  • The competition is open to all PhD students.
  • The exhibition pieces can involve any medium (e.g., poster, film, objects/artifacts, etc.). 
  • Applications must outline the original nature and potential outcomes/impact of the research, highlight its relevance outside a single field, and describe how the exhibition piece will be designed in a way which will engage an academic, non-specialist audience from different disciplines.
  • Nine finalists will be selected to take part in the competition at the YorkTalks event on Wednesday 10 January 2018.

Here’s what last year’s winner, Rosie Smith said:

"Taking part in the YorkTalks PhD Spotlight competition was a brilliant opportunity to practice presenting my research to both academic and non-academic audiences. It raised the profile of my work and has led to a number of other collaborations and opportunities to present and work alongside other researchers. The Spotlight event not only demonstrates the success of your project, but also your willingness to actively engage with academia and the public beyond. I would strongly encourage any PhD researcher to apply."

Application process

  • From Sunday 1 October 2017, complete the online YorkTalks 2018 PhD Spotlight Proposal, which must include: a proposal title, a non-specialist summary (outlining the original nature and potential outcomes/impact of the research, and highlighting its relevance outside a single field), and a description of medium(s) that will be used in your exhibition piece to make it engaging and accessible to an academic, non-specialist audience from different disciplines.
  • The deadline for applications is Tuesday 31 October 2017.
  • All proposals will be reviewed by the Dean of the York Graduate Research School and a panel of senior academics from each faculty, and nine finalists will be shortlisted to take part (three from each faculty).
  • Applicants will be notified on Friday 3 November 2017 as to whether they have been selected for the final event.
  • Finalists are required to attend a review session on Wednesday 15 November 2017 (1.30pm - 4.00pm) where they will have the opportunity to discuss their ideas with their peers and receive support from the RETT in developing their public engagement skills.
  • Finalists will present their showcase piece on Wednesday 10 January 2018 at the YorkTalks event in the Spring Lane Building.


Proposals should provide meaningful information to help the review panel to understand the context behind and your ideas for your showcase piece, and particularly how you will attract visitors and passers by to engage with you and your display. Please outline:

  • the original nature of the research and its potential outcomes/impact
  • the relevance outside a single field and appeal to those working in other disciplines
  • the reason(s) for the choice of medium (e.g., poster, film, object/artifact, performance piece etc.), particularly in relation to how it will make your work accessible to and engage an academic, non-specialist audience from different disciplines.

Showcase pieces should be visually appealing, well presented, and coherent (colour/contrast/font) and designed to engage an academic, non-specialist audience. Give some consideration to which medium(s), e.g., poster, film, objects/artifacts, performance piece etc., would best convey your research in this context.

If you have a query relating to the PhD Spotlight Competition please contact

Visit the RETT Facebook page to see photos of the YorkTalks 2017 competition.