Student Design Awards judging

Our judging panels

Each design brief is judged by a panel of judges who have specialist knowledge and experience. See our 2022-23 judges.

Judging process

Your work will be evaluated per brief by a curated panel of judges against the judging criteria in a two-stage process: shortlisting and interviews. The panel includes a diverse range of expertise related to the brief topic and the design industry. All judging sessions are facilitated by the RSA.

During the first stage of shortlisting, the panel marks all the submissions anonymously and shortlists 5 to 8 projects per brief. If your project is shortlisted, you are invited to the second stage, an interview with the panel, to present your work in more detail referring to the judging criteria. Once the panel has interviewed all shortlisted students, they deliberate and select the winners.

A graphic showing the different phases of the judging process

Judging criteria

Your entry should demonstrate a design thinking approach to the brief and clearly communicate the following principles:

Open Briefs 1-8:

Social and environmental impact:

  • Social: How is your approach benefiting people and generations to come? How have you considered diversity and inclusion in your proposal? How have you brought in different voices and perspectives?
  • Environmental: How does your proposal make a positive difference for the natural world in your chosen context? How have you considered effective use of resources including materials and processes that can do more good short and long term for people and planet?

Rigorous research and compelling insights: How have you combined your own first-hand research with a review of existing research and wider trends? How are your insights and proposal grounded in people’s needs and desires? How have you considered the potential of your chosen place and the local context? How did you get feedback and incorporate new ideas through prototyping and iterating?

Systems thinking: What’s the bigger picture? How have you considered the root causes of the challenge you’re exploring? How does your idea connect to a wider set of issues? What might be some unintended consequences of your proposal?

Viability: Have you considered potential models for how your proposal could work in the real world? How could it be funded and sustained financially with the resources and skills needed? What are potential barriers? How would you measure success? How could your proposal be adaptive to changes over time?

Creativity and innovation: How is your idea different from existing interventions? Are there unexpected or surprising elements in your proposal? How is it an imaginative and hopeful alternative for the future? 

Moving Pictures Brief 9:

Rigorous research and communication: How did you investigate the audio subject matter? How did you go about the process of iteration, gathering and incorporating new ideas and feedback? How did you apply your research insights to most effectively communicate the speaker’s message and enhance the viewer’s understanding of the issues explored?

Aesthetic quality and originality:  How does your animation engage and delight the eye? What did you consider in order to make the visuals striking and memorable? How have you applied a distinctive style, concept, storytelling approach or choice of visual metaphors to make sure your film stands out in a crowded online landscape, and reaches the widest possible audience?

Execution: How did you approach the planning and design of your animation? What have you considered and implemented to ensure the film is executed to a high technical standard? Have you considered the structure and pace of your animation? Does it flow and finish with a flourish?


The winners of each brief will be announced publicly by the RSA in June 2023. Winners will also be invited to attend an Awards Ceremony and their work will be displayed in the ‘Winners’ section of the RSA Student Design Awards website.

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RSA Student Design Awards

Our competition for emerging designers who want to make a difference.