Royal College of Science Union


COVID-19 and Scientific Progress


The submission deadline is 26st February 2021 at 9PM.

Written entries have a word limit of 1000 and video entries have a length limit of 4 minutes.

Only one submission per Individual or Teams entry

Imperial and Schools submissions will compete in separate categories

All COVID-related questions must be an essay, the non-COVID related questions are freestyle.


This year we’re doing things differently – We’d like to address a number of global challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic we are all tackling to Research & Innovation, Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence. We’d like to hear your views and ideas about these global issues and most importantly – how does Science play a part in all these?

The more, the merrier! This year we’re also introducing a new category for Teams submissions: To form a Team, you must be from the same school/college and have 3-4 people max.




COVID-related Essay

Write an essay (with a proper introduction, body and conclusion) for your argument on:

“What has a year of covid, lockdowns, isolation and unexpected deaths taught us about the human trait of resilience?” (Think about how researchers might use 2020 to understand more about this behaviour and include a real life experience about yourself or someone else to help you tell your story).

Non-COVID-related Freestyle

Submit an entry in any format of your choosing to answer the question: this can be a piece of creative writing, an essay, a video, or anything you think will best illustrate your point.

“Imagine you’ve come across the biggest science exclusive of your career, what is the story you’re about to tell the world?”


Helen Thomson

Helen Thomson, Guest Judge

Helen Thomson is a science journalist and writer. She is a consultant at the New Scientist and has published work in The Guardian, Nature, The New York Times, the BBC and many various popular journals. She studied Neuroscience at the University of Bristol then continued to pursue her passion completing a Master's in Science Communication at Imperial College. In 2014, she was shortlisted as Best Science and Technology Journalist in the British Journalism Awards and won Best Staff Journalist at the Medical Journalist Association awards in 2015. In 2018, her debut book "Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through The World's Strangest Brains" was The Times Book of the Year.




COVID-related Essay

Write an essay (with a proper introduction, body and conclusion) for your argument on:

“How can we communicate more effectively to young people that although, as individuals, they are not at significant risk from Covid, they are a major route of potential infection, danger and death for their parents and grandparents?”

Non-COVID-related Freestyle

Submit an entry in any format of your choosing to answer the question: this can be a piece of creative writing, an essay, a video, or anything you think will best illustrate your point.

“Climate change is humanity’s biggest challenge this century, yet it may not affect us as individuals for many years. How can we communicate the need for young people to change their own day to day behaviour now to safeguard the future of unborn generations?”


Jeremy Sanders

Jeremy Sanders, Guest Judge

Jeremy Sanders studied Chemistry at Imperial College in the 1960s. He did his PhD at the University of Cambridge, then spent his career there, teaching and researching across a broad range of chemical topics, and eventually becoming a Pro-Vice-Chancellor. He has also worked extensively to improve workplace Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. He is now a Director of a Trust that is helping to build a new community in North West Cambridge, and is one of the independent members of the Imperial College Council. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Royal Society Open Science and has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his contributions to Science and Society.




COVID-related Essay

Write an essay (with a proper introduction, body and conclusion) for your argument on:

“Can AI understand and curb the pandemic?”

Non-COVID-related Freestyle

Submit an entry in any format of your choosing to answer the question: this can be a piece of creative writing, an essay, a video, or anything you think will best illustrate your point.

“You have one billion pounds to spend on research: how are you going to use them?”


Letizia Diamante

Letizia Diamante, Guest Judge

Letizia Diamante is an expert in science communication. After her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, she was awarded a Welcome Trust fellowship in science communication to attend a MSc in Science Media Production at Imperial College London. Since then, she has worked as science writer and audiovisual producer for research institutes, international organisations and publishing companies across Europe and Asia. Her broad range of experience includes a fellowship at CERN press office and the organisation of the World Conference of Science Journalists 2019. She also organises events to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM. Her first book will be published next year.




Overall Winner Judge Freestyle

“Should we make attempts to change the human genome?”

Lord Robert Winston

Lord Robert Winston, Science Challenge Ambassador

The ambassador for the Science Challenge for 13 years, the President's Envoy for Outreach and Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London. He visits many schools in the UK each year and has published lots of science books for the younger generation, such as “Evolution Revolution” and “The Story of God”. He is Chairman of the Genesis Research Trust – a charity which raised over £13 million to establish the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology and which now funds high quality research into women’s health and babies. He also sits on the Board of Trustees of the UK Stem Cell Foundation.