Skills & careers

The competition

If you are an MRC-funded PhD student with an interest in communicating your science to a wider audience, then the Max Perutz Science Writing Award is for you.

The award aims to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication among MRC PhD students.

The 2018 winners have been announced!

Ten outstanding articles were shortlisted for the 2018 Max Perutz Science Writing Award. The winner, runner-up and commendation were announced at an awards ceremony in London. Read all 10 short-listed articles (PDF, 1.16MB).

Why does my research matter?

We want you to tell us why your research matters in a way that would interest a non-scientific audience. Why is it important? Why does it interest you? Why should it interest the reader?

The winner will receive a prize of £1,500, and their article will be published on the MRC Insight blog.

All shortlisted entrants are invited to a science writing masterclass and the awards ceremony in central London.

This year our prestigious judging panel is made up of six researchers and professional science communicators, chaired by our Executive Chair of the MRC, Professor Fiona Watt. She is joined by Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College, London; Dr Jennifer Rohn, Cell Biologist at University College London, Novelist and Journalist; Dr Roger Highfield, MRC Council Member and Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group; Dr Claire Ainsworth, Freelance Journalist and Science Writer; and Andy Ridgway, Journalist and Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Judging criteria

  • Does the article convincingly answer the question 'Why does my research matter?'
  • Does the article explain the writer’s research in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Is it a compelling read?

The article must be based on the research you are doing. This could be on the whole of the project or on just one aspect, but it should not be a general review of the area.

The piece should be aimed at a non-specialist audience; written at a level that an interested member of the public could understand while conveying the significance of your research. It should be worthy of being published on the MRC Insight blog.

You can find feedback on previous entries and top tips from past judges in ‘The secrets of good science writing’.

Winning entries from previous years are also available to give you an idea of what we’re looking for.

The rules

  • The article should be no more than 800 words, including the title — anything significantly longer will be disqualified.
  • The article should be text only: no diagrams or tables should be included.
  • The article should be written in prose (as opposed to poetry or verse).
  • Articles that have already been published elsewhere cannot be submitted. 
  • The judges’ decision will be final.


All current MRC-funded PhD students are eligible to enter and may submit one article. This can include PhD students in MRC-funded institutes, units and centres, and MRC-funded PhD students in universities.

How to enter

The 2018 competition has now closed.

For information, please note the following submission requirements:

  • File type: Word document
  • File name: Use your name and article title as the file name
  • Word count: No more than 800 words
  • Font and formatting: Please ensure the text is 1.5 spaced Arial 10pt