Capture the Joy of your PhD Journey in a Photo

Inaugural UU Doctoral College Photo Competition 2024!

Calling all PhD Researchers at UU! Capture the Spark of Joy in Your Research Journey! Share the happiness, excitement, and fulfilment you experience in your PhD with a wider audience through the power of image and narrative.


“PhD: Finding Joy in the Journey”


  • First Prize (worth £250): Awarded by a panel of judges.
  • People's Choice Award (worth £150): Decided by a vote of UU staff and PhD Researchers.


  • Open to all currently registered PhD Researchers at Ulster University.
  • One entry per participant.


Submissions close at 5:00pm on Monday 22 April 2024.

Shortlisted entries will be announced on Friday 10 May at the Festival of PhD Research.

Exhibition & Awards

  • All entries will be displayed on the Festival of PhD Research website and at a public exhibition at the Festival of PhD Research, the Atrium, Level 3, BC Block, Belfast Campus on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May 2024.
  • Winners will be announced at the PhD Awards Presentation event on Thursday 6 June 2024 in Coleraine campus (also featuring the 3MT Final) from 12.00PM to 2.00PM.

Selection Criteria


It refers to how elements are arranged within the frame of the photograph. A well-composed photo will have a balanced and visually pleasing arrangement of subjects, lines, shapes, light and space.


  • Captures the theme: Does the image directly relate to the competition's theme, "PhD: Finding Joy in the Journey"?
  • Imagination: A fresh, unique, innovative and new approach to what had been captured. Does the image spark the viewer's imagination and helps them ‘see’ what you experience in your journey?
  • Inspires the viewer: Does the image evoke positive emotions, such as inspiration, curiosity, or wonder?


A powerful photograph will evoke emotions and tell a compelling story. The best photos often have a clear narrative, conveying a message or capturing an interesting moment in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

Clear, concise narrative

100-150 words - accessible to a non-specialist audience. Narrative accurately describes the intention, purpose and meaning of the image and enhances its impact.

Image Requirements

  • Landscape orientation only
  • JPEG/JPG format, maximum 1 GB
  • Mobile photography welcome
  • File name: Include your name (e.g., [Your Name] submission)
  • Black and white OR colour photos accepted
  • AI generated images are not accepted
  • Minor adjustments allowed (cropping, sharpening, contrast).  No significant alteration or artistic enhancement. Judges may request the original file for verification
  • Remember, no AI tools or filters allowed
  • Images must be taken by the applicant

Image Caption/ Narrative Requirements

  • Image title: 2-5 words (maximum 10 words).
  • Narrative: 100-150 words.
    • You can describe your image and its connection to your research journey.
    • You may explain the purpose, intention, and meaning of the image.
    • In an accessible language: Avoid acronyms and jargon.


  • Images must not contain identifiable humans.
  • Ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and others.
  • Respect animal welfare and avoid harming their habitat.
  • Comply with all relevant national and international legislation.
  • Respect the work of other photographers and avoid plagiarism.
  • Unethical practices will lead to disqualification.

Data Protection

When processing and storing data, the competition organisers will adhere to the Data Protection and GDPR regulations (2018).

Terms and Conditions

  • Participants must own the copyright of submitted images and ensure they do not infringe on any third-party rights.
  • Images must comply with all laws.
  • Copyright remains with the creators, but by entering, participants grant the Doctoral College non-commercial use rights for promotion, exhibition, and research publications.