A gallery space with photographs displayed and students sitting around.

LSE Festival research competition 2020

Meet the 2020 competition winners

 The LSE Festival 2020 hosted a research competition for students and staff.

Vote for your favourite research entry in the online gallery.

The LSE Festival 2020 theme was ''Shape the World". We investigated how we can learn lessons from the past, tackle the challenges of today and shape the future. Winners were decided by expert judges at a public exhibition and a popular prize was decided by a public vote. 

Poster Prize

Winner: Lucy Bryant, Department of Social Policy

Lucy's winning poster: Regulating Live Music: whose running the show?

Lucy Bryant, Poster Prize Winner Lucy Bryant, Poster Prize Winner
Lucy Bryant, Poster Prize Winner

The judges said: The winner’s poster successfully conveyed the rationale for the research and was easy for the public to understand whilst still being academically credible. The entry was also visually compelling with nice use of colour, images and quotes. 

Judges: Jessica Templeton is a political scientist, award-winning educator and Director of LSE100. Head of the LSE Digital Skills Lab, Jeni Brown leads a talented team of professional and student staff, delivering innovative and challenging programmes to develop digital literacy, job-specific skills, and technical confidence in users of all levels.

  • Organisation: How well is structure employed to organise text and images?
  • Presentation: Do the graphics, colour, font, and density of information enhance or detract from the message?
  • Clarity: Are the arguments contained in the poster coherent? Are they clear to a general audience?

Written Pitch Prize

Winner: Evelina Bondareva, Department of Social Policy

Evelina's winning written pitch: Complexities of Anti-Refugee Sentiment: the importance of historical and societal explanations

Evelina Bondareva, Written Pitch Prize winner Evelina Bondareva, Written Pitch Prize winner
Evelina Bondareva, Written Pitch Prize winner

The judges said: Our winner provided an original connection to historical and societal context in their research, while also demonstrating the wider relevance of their work. They set out an interesting paradox up front concerning the small total number of refugees but strong anti-refugee sentiment in a different non-Western European non-Anglo Speaking context.

Judges: Simon Hix is currently the LSE Pro-Director for Research. Simon took his undergraduate and masters degrees at the LSE and his PhD at the European University Institute, in Florence. Ros Taylor is Research Manager for the LSE Truth, Trust & Technology Commission at LSE and co-editor of the LSE Brexit blog.

  • Does the headline grab attention and capture the important insight from the research?
  • Does the pitch make the case for why the audience should be engaged by the research?
  • Is the pitch well-written, concise and communicative?

Short Film Prize

Joint Winners: Shey Forbes-Taylor and Brian Walker, Communications Division, & Olivia G, Jad Baghdadi, and Victoria Shum, Department of International Relations

Shey and Brian's winning short film: The Legacy of Sir Arthur Lewis

Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner
Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner

Oliva, Jad, and Victoria's winning short film: Miles Away

Olivia G, Victoria Shum, Jad Baghdadi, Short Film Prize winners Olivia G, Victoria Shum, Jad Baghdadi, Short Film Prize winners
Olivia G, Victoria Shum, Jad Baghdadi, Short Film Prize winners

The judges said: LSE culture was very present in this short film. It gave a clear picture of what the culture was in the 1930s in terms of race, and then demonstrated how much has changed and how much has remained the same. The archival material was wide-ranging and compelling, and the juxtaposition of the historical materials - letters, news articles, etc. - and the contemporary students' words was incredibly moving.

For our other winning film, the judges said: This film was brave and expressive, using a variety of voices and locations to successfully communicate the unrest in Hong Kong and the reverberating impact this had around the world. The piece was well-balanced and thought through expressing its ideas with clarity and creativity and a strong use of sound.

Judges: Sarah Banet-Weiser is Professor of Media and Communications and Head of the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Anna Bevan is the Film and Audio Manager in the Communications Division at LSE. 

  • To what extent does the film make use of sound, image and editing to convey the research topic?
  • Does the film demonstrate a strong link to theoretical, critical and cultural ideas developed in the research?
  • Is the research presented with clarity, creativity and depth?

Photograph Prize

Winner: Constantin Gouvy, Department of International Relations

Constantin's winning photograph: Demystifying the Rise and Appeal of ISIS in Iraq: in conversation with “ISIS families”

Constantin Gouvy, Photograph Prize winner Constantin Gouvy, Photograph Prize winner
Constantin Gouvy, Photograph Prize winner

The judges said: We found this photograph to be particularly moving. Clearly depicting a powerful story about both the subjects in the photograph, but also those not present. Excellent use of light and colour to show the generational contrast.

Judges: Thomas Smith is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Geography at LSE. Mary Rahman studied MSc Media and Communications at LSE. She now works in PR focusing on arts and cultural campaigns.

  • Imagination: How original and arresting is the story behind the image? Does it challenge the viewer?  
  • Research matter and coherence: How well does it relate to your research items and topics as described on the entry form?  
  • Visual impact: Where is our eye drawn to in the photograph? Is the viewer's attention captured in an interesting way? 

Festival Prize

Winner: Shey Forbes-Taylor and Brian Walker, Communications Division

Shey and Brian's winning short film: The Legacy of Sir Arthur Lewis

Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner
Shey Forbes-Taylor, Short Film Prize Winner

The judges said: This film stood out by highlighting an individual from LSE who prioritised the goal of reducing poverty through his research in the field of economics. The story of Sir Arthur Lewis is a testament to the history and culture of LSE as he was the first black professor in the UK. I found the final quote particularly moving: ‘the cure for poverty is not money but knowledge’.

Highly Commended: Charlotte Bartels, Department of Accounting

Charlotte's highly commended photography: Where is Inside?

Highly Commended: Valentina Iemmi, Department of Social Policy

Valentina's highly commended poster: Time to Invest in Global Mental Health: a moral imperative

Judge: Minouche Shafik, Director of LSE

This prize is awarded to the shortlisted submission that best engages with the LSE Festival theme “Shape the World".


Winner: Arya Gerard, Department of Law

Arya's winning photograph: Selective Modernisation in Singapore

Selective Modernisation in Singapore
Arya's Prize Winning Entry

The judges said: We thought this image creatively juxtaposes the old and the new, and invites the viewer to question how conservation and modernisation can both be for the better – particularly in the lived and built environment.  It provokes reflection on “making the world a better place” and highlights debates about what “better” means, and for whom.

Highly Commended: Elise Racine, Department of International Relations

Elise's highly commended written pitch: “Bad” Mothers: the impact of pregnancy and parenting mobile applications on motherhood

Highly Commended: Vathsal Kumar Gupta, Department of Economics

Vathsal's highly commended photograph: Alghoza lost

Judges: Helen Green is a Learning Developer at LSE LIFE with a PhD in social psychology and Bradley Franks is Deputy Head of Department for Teaching and has a PhD in cognitive science.

The LSE LIFE prize is selected from shortlisted submissions from undergraduate and Master’s students and students who graduated in July or December 2019. 

  • Making the ‘world’ a better place: How well does the submission offer knowledge that could contribute to a change for the better for a community, big or small?
  • Communication: How well does the submission use written and/or visual forms of communication to interact with the Festival audience in a way that is clear and coherent?
  • Creativity: How well does the submission demonstrate inventive or unique ways of thinking and/or offer alternative perspectives?
  • Self-Understanding: How well does the submission demonstrate researcher self-awareness and reflexivity?

PhD Academy Prize

Winner: Charlotte Bartels, Department of Accounting

Charlotte's winning photography: Where is Inside?

Charlotte Bartels (1)
Rita Astuti presenting the PhD Academy Prize to Charlotte Bartels. LSE Film & Audio

The judges said: We thought this entry was a particularly striking image. It made us stop and think about accountability, transparency and boundaries. The picture invites conversation and allows the viewer to come to their own reflections about corporate life.

Judges: Rita Astuti is the Director of the PhD Academy and Professor of Anthropology. Since the time of her PhD at the LSE, she has been doing ethnographic research among fishing people in Madagascar. Kath Scanlon, an economist and planner, is Distinguished Policy Fellow at LSE London and has been researching housing and urban policy in the UK and elsewhere for more than 20 years.  

The PhD Academy Prize is selected from shortlisted submissions from PhD students. 

It will be judged on your ability to communicate a concept, research question or finding in a way that stimulates debate and is accessible to a non-specialist audience.

Winners will recieve £250, to be shared if part of a group. 

Popular Prize

Winner: Jack Bissett, Department of Government, Maitrai Lapalikar, Department of International Relations, Antonia Syn, Department of Government, Maria Soraghan, Department of International Relations, and Vasiliki Poula, Department of Law

Jack, Maitrai, Antonia, Maria, and Vasiliki's winning written pitch: A European Democracy on a Domestic Level

This prize is voted for by the public on the online gallery.

Jack Bissett, Popular Prize winner Jack Bissett, Popular Prize winner
Jack Bissett, Popular Prize winner

Contact us 

Email us at researchcompetition@lse.ac.uk if you have any questions.