PhD Video Challenge: Why It Matters


This ‘video challenge’ celebrates a diversity of built environment research from PhD students in many countries and built environment disciplines. Collectively, these videos will illustrate the importance and interest of emerging built environment research to civil society, politics and industry.

The theme of this video challenge is “WHY IT MATTERS”. This is an opportunity to explain the significance of your research, articulate a ‘big picture’ view of its potential contribution and impacts. Your video should explain clearly, succinctly and creatively why your research matters and how it fits into the wider context and might contribute to society. It should be aimed at the general public.

By engaging in this video challenge, participants will improve their communication skills and enhance the visibility of their work.

Video Challenge 2022


Video Challenge 2022


Any student currently in a PhD program related to the ‘built environment’ and up to one year after their PhD degree award.

‘Built environment’ in the broadest sense means the creation, use, operation, maintenance and stewardship of the built environment (buildings, neighbourhoods, cities, peri-urban & rural areas, infrastructure) including social, environmental, economic and physical aspects. PhDs may come from a variety of departments or disciplines: sociology, geography, construction, engineering, facilities management, architecture, planning, real estate, urban studies, environmental design, finance, project management, etc.


  • Only one video per applicant.
  • A statement about the content of your video (100 words).
  • Evidence is required for your enrolment in a PhD programme or the date of when a PhD was awarded. This can be a scan of your student ID or a letter from your supervisor.
  • A short 100-word biography about you (educational background, current interests, the research topic of your PhD and where you see yourself in 5 years).
  • A headshot.
  • Your contact details.


Completed applications and videos must be submitted before Monday, 17 October 2022 noon (UCT / GMT).


Your video should explain the significance of your research to a wide, general audience and address ‘why this matters’. It should pertain to research about the built environment and its impacts in the broadest sense: the social and physical resources, creation, use, operation, maintenance & stewardship of the built environment (buildings, neighbourhoods, cities, peri-urban & rural areas, infrastructure) including social, environmental, economic & physical aspects.  The topic may be transdisciplinary in nature or be based in a specific discipline: sociology, geography, construction, engineering, facilities management, architecture, planning, real estate, urban studies, environmental design, finance, project management, business, etc.


We encourage creativity and the use of different formats that help to clearly convey your message: live action, animation, still images, visual effects.


The video must be 120 seconds or less (in total). Videos longer than this will be disqualified.


The video can be in any language, but must have subtitles in English language.


Narration and musical background are allowed.

Copyright and permissions

Your video must contain original work. Any externally-sourced images, video clips or music used in your video must be licensed to you or have Creative Commons permission. If people appear in your video, they have given written consent to appear in the video and have been told it will be entered into this competition. Details of the consent and license to use your video are provided on the registration page.

Technical Requirements

Videos should be in either .mp4 or .mov format, no larger than 500mb, and 120 seconds or less in duration; Resolution should be 1920 x 1080. Video file should be named as the Reference Code you will receive by email upon submission of your entry.


  • First prize:  €600
  • Second prizes: €400
  • People’s vote prize: €400


  • The content and presentation are qualitatively and quantitatively different from an academic presentation. Remember that the emphasis is on the significance of your research, not the methods.
  • We recommend that you first develop a clear overarching message and narrative – a clear story. Then turn this into a storyboard with approximate timings. This process may require several iterations and should be critically evaluated.
  • When you have a final storyboard, it is time to start filming. Most smartphones will be sufficient for this purpose.
  • The emphasis is on the quality of narrative (which includes the use of visual material) to convey your story. 
  • We suggest keeping ‘talking heads’ and powerpoint slides to a minimum (or avoid altogether).
  • If using sound, you may need to record this separately or use a separate microphone. Microphones in smartphones work best when directly adjacent to the speaker.
Video Challenge 2022

Video Challenge 2022

Judging criteria

  • Meets the stated rules.
  • Content and scope are appropriate to the competition.
  • Accessible to a general audience?
  • Clarity of the significance of the research?
  • Explained clearly and concisely?
  • Factually accurate?
  • Clear narrative thread?
  • Held the viewer’s attention?
  • Overall message is apparent?

The judges’ decision is final.


What does it cost?

It’s free. There is no fee to enter. There are costs involved in producing and creating the video which are the applicants’ responsibility.

Where will the videos be hosted?

The videos will be hosted on Vimeo. Applicants will be given detailed instructions for submitting their videos to the organisers. We will upload the videos on the entrants’ behalf on our Vimeo site.

What are the benefits of entering?

Creating a video will sharpen your own communication skills and help you to clearly explain your research to others. Entering your video will raise your profile and broaden the people who know about your work. The kudos of an award will be an important recognition and distinction for your CV. And there is also a cash prize!

Who are the judges?

The judges will consist of academic experts in the field of the built environment, working in several universities in different countries.

Does my research match the scope of the video challenge?

All facets of built environment research are welcome. A broad understanding of built environment is given. If you are not sure if your research matches the scope of the video challenge, Richard Lorch  and Andreas Klee  will be happy to answer your questions.

Who are the organizers of the video challenge?

Buildings and Cities - an international, open access, peer-reviewed, academic journal publishing high-quality research and analysis on the interplay between the different scales of the built environment: buildings, blocks, neighbourhoods, cities, national building stocks and infrastructures. The journal focuses on built environment policy, practices and outcomes and the range of economic, environmental, political, social and technological issues occurring over the full life cycle.

ARL – The Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association is an independent institution for the spatial sciences under public law and is based in Hanover, Germany. The ARL offers knowledge-based analysis and advice on current sustainable spatial development issues.

When will a decision be announced?

All applicants will be informed by 18 November 2022.


Buildings and Cities
Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association

Coordinating Committee


How to license music & free music resources


How to make a selfie video

An example of a PhD’s video

Aines, R.D. & Aines, A.L. (2019). Championing Science: Communicating Your Ideas to Decision Makers. Oakland: University of California Press.

Alda, A. (2017). If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. New York: Random House.

Anderson, C. (2016). TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Dean, C. (2009). Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Luna, R.E. (2013). The Art of Scientific Storytelling: Transform Your Research with a Step-by-Step Formula. Amado International.