Science Challenge 2013


What is the Science Challenge?
The RCSU Science Challenge is an annual competition run by the Royal College of Science Faculty Union, and generously sponsored by the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Royal College of Science Association here at Imperial College London. The challenge aims to encourage scientific debate, reasoning and the communication of science in a public-friendly context.

The Science Challenge 2013 introduces for the first time a new competition stream in the form of a video category, to stand alongside the essay category. Entrants must answer one of the questions set by our Judges, with the essay category open to all students of Imperial College (not Faculty specific) and (in a separately judged category) students at secondary-school or colleges in the United Kingdom; whilst the video category is again open to all, but all entries from both Imperial College and Secondary Schools and Colleges will be marked competitively together.

The competition opens on the 24th January 2013 and will close  on the 5th March at 5pm.


The Judges
Each year, The Science Challenge questions are set and judged by four high profile scientists, academics, editors & business leaders. Our judges kindly give up their time freely to review the finalist entries and come to our Launch & Final to give a speech on their experiences with science communication and award the prizes to the competitors. Thanks also go to our small team of Doctoral students who review every entry on submission.

This year, our judges are:

Essay Question Category

Professor Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society, Imperial College London

Professor Sir Brian Hoskin, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London

Professor Sir Roy Anderson, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Imperial College London

Video Question Category

Dr Jad Marrouche, Research Associate and Deputy President of the Royal College of Science Association, Imperial College London


The Questions
The Judge’s questions will be announced at the Launch Event on Thursday 24th January 2013. They will be posted online shortly afterwards.


The Prizes

Essay competition

Imperial Students
Overall winner: £1000 cash prize and trip to CERN, Geneva
Runner up 1: £400
Runner up 2: £400

Secondary School Students
Overall winner: £500 cash prize and trip to CERN, Geneva
Runner up 1: £200
Runner up 2: £200

Video Competition
Overall Winning entry: £1000
Runner up 1: £200
Runner up 2: £200


Entry Guidelines

Essay Competition

• There is a word limit of 800 +/- 50.
• Your entry must be in PDF format.
• You should answer the questions set in a manner in which any member of the general public could understand.
• The essay should probably not be approached as if it were a scientific paper – it would be in contradiction to the above point.
• As such, referencing should (perhaps, though not obligatory) be mentioned in passing, as if it were a newspaper article, rather than as citations.

Video Competition

• A strict maximum time limit of 3 minutes.
• Entries must be uploaded to Youtube, and the video link sent to


The Grand Final
The location of the Grand Final for 2013 will be announced at the Launch Event! The top three competitors in each category will be invited to the final, and the winners of the competition will be announced.