SPA Awards 2021

Welcome to the SPA Awards 2021! This year has been an incredibly difficult one for student publications around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, but now you have your chance to be recognised for your hard work and dedication.

Check out the published Awards Guide (above) to find out more about how to maximise your chances of winning!

Once you’re ready to submit, click here to fill in your nomination.

The Basics

The SPA Awards are open to student journalists and member publications from across the UK and Republic of Ireland, and cover 20 categories from sports to news to the coveted Best Publication award.

All entries must be submitted via our online entry form to be counted. Entries close at 11:59pm on Wednesday 14 April 2021 and shortlists will be announced soon after, with the winners revealed on 9 May at #SPARC21.

Awards Categories

  • Best Publication

This award recognises the best student publication in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It takes into account the publication’s relevance to its student community, the quality of the content that it produces, and dedication to innovation.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: Exeposé, University of Exeter

  • Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment

The Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment rewards students who have shown outstanding commitment to their publications over the previous year, going above and beyond the call of duty.

You can learn more about Billy, who this award was dedicated to in 2018, here.

Submission guidelines: Include a supporting statement of up to 500 words. You may not enter this category yourself – you must be nominated by somebody else. Multiple nominations from the same entrant will be considered together.

  • Best Reporter

This award rewards consistently exceptional reporting from an individual at a student publication. It will take into account the range of stories, impact on the intended audience and the quality of journalism.

Submission guidelines: Include three stories from within the awards timeframe, plus a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of one entry per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Steph Spyro, The River

  • Best News Story

This award recognises quality news reporting from student publications. It will take into account the quality of sources, structure, and impact of the article on the intended audience.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Bec Oakes and Lily Martin, The Mancunion

  • Best Specialist Publication

This award recognises the best specialist student publication, including academic journals and publications that focus on one specific area of interest. It is judged by the same principles as the Best Publication category.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: York Historian, University of York

  • Best Overall Digital Media sponsored by Women in Journalism

This award recognises the most innovative use of multimedia platforms, including using audio and video to enhance a publication’s overall content. This also includes the use of social media networks.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: Epigram, University of Bristol

  • Best Newcomer Publication

This award recognises the best new student publication. Publications may not be more than three years old (regardless of the length of SPA membership) at the time that the Awards close for entries, nor may it have won this category in the past. It is judged by the same principles as the Best Publication category.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: Oxford Blue, University of Oxford

  • Best Website

This award recognises the best website of a student publication. It takes into account website design, production, content, overall impact and user engagement.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: Impact Magazine, University of Nottingham

  • Best Science Publication or Section

This award recognises the best overall coverage of science in a student publication. It is open to specialist science publications, as well as science sections within a broader publication.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: The Courier, Newcastle University

  • Best Sports Coverage

This award recognises the best sports coverage by student publications, and is open to events on and off-campus. This award is not intended to recognise the achievmenets of any individual journalist, but the work of the publication in covering an event or events.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winner: Brig Newspaper, University of Stirling

  • Best Human Rights Story sponsored by EachOther

This award recognises the best story with a human rights angle. It will take into account the story’s structure, relevance to human rights and impact on the audience.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Lucia Posteraro, Glasgow Guardian

  • Best Science or Tech Piece

This award recognises the best science and technology reporting. This can include reporting on scientific research at institutions, as well as wider issues and topics in the science and technology sector including gaming. It will take into account the story’s relevance to the audience, structure and impact.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Javier Bautista, Kinesis Magazine

  • Best Comment Piece

This award recognises the best opinion writing from a student publication. It will take into account structure, relevance to the audience and impact of the piece.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Claudia Parker, InQuire Media

  • Best Interview

This award recognises the best interviews made by student publications, whether that be with politicians, musicians, or even a local community worker. It focuses on the style, presentation and impact of the interview.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Tristan Phipps, The Mic Magazine

  • Best Arts or Entertainment Piece

This award focuses on various areas such as music, film, arts and culture. An example could be a music preview, a film critique of a theatre review. It will take into account the piece’s structure and relevance to the audience.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Sophie Chapman, RAZZ Magazine

  • Best Lifestyle Piece

This award recognises the best lifestyle piece. This could include stories on fashion, travel, or food and drink. It will take into account the story’s structure and relevance to the audience.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Anonymous, RAZZ Magazine

  • Best Feature

This award is for longer, magazine style pieces, about a specific area or focus. Judges will look at flow, structure, impact, passion and storytelling.

Submission guidelines: Include one story and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Lauren Boland, Trinity News

  • Best Design

There are two Best Design awards – one for magazines, and one for newspapers.

These awards recognise the best-designed student publications in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Submission guidelines: Provide up to two pages of A4 as a supporting statement, with no more than 1,000-1500 words and no more than one link to a digital copy of your publication. You are free to include pictures, links to specific stories or other multimedia evidence, provided you do not exceed the two page limit. Maximum of one entry per publication.

2020 Winners: Magdalen Magazine, University of Dundee and Redbrick, University of Birmingham

  • Best Student Photographer

This award recognises the best student photographers, who provide their publications with memorable, high quality images showing student life and events.

Submission guidelines: Include three photographs and a supporting statement of up to 300 words. Maximum of two entries per individual journalist.

2020 Winner: Yuval Caspi, Pi Media

Entry Rules

(1) The deadline for entries is 11:59pm on Wednesday 14 April. Any work submitted after this time will not be accepted.

(2) Only students of the current academic year (2020/21), or who graduated in the previous academic year (2019/20) are eligible to enter.

(3) All work entered must have been published between Monday 2 March 2020 and Wednesday 14 April 2021.

(4) All work must have been published in a student publication that is a member of the SPA at the time of publishing, or at the deadline for entries.

(5) The maximum number of entries per category is as follows:

  • Twice per individual for: Best News Story, Best Feature, Best Interview, Best Comment Piece, Best Entertainment Piece, Best Lifestyle Piece, Best Science or Technology Story, Best Human Rights Story
  • Once per individual for: Best Reporter, , Best Student Photographer
  • Once per publication for: Best Publication, Best Specialist Publication, Best Newcomer Publication, Best Website, Best Newspaper Design, Best Magazine Design, Best Overall Digital Media, Best Science Publication or Section, Best Sports Coverage
  • There is no limit on nominations for the Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment

(6) In the event that more than the maximum number of entries is received, the SPA will endeavour to ask the publication’s editor (for publication entries) or the individual journalist (for individual entries), but reserves the right to accept only the most recent entry received.

(7) In general, work may not be entered into more than one category. The following exceptions apply:

  • Entries for the following categories may be formed in part of entries for other categories: Best Publication, Best Specialist Publication, Best Newcomer Publication, Best Website, Best Overall Digital Media, Best Science Publication or Section
  • Entries for Best Reporter or may feature one article that has been submitted for another award. If this limit is exceeded, then the entry for Best Reporter or will be disregarded.
  • Entries for the following categories are expected to be similar but may not be identical: Best Publication, Best Specialist Publication, Best Newcomer Publication, Best Website, Best Overall Digital Media and Best Science Publication or Section.

(8) Any work that is entered may be used by the SPA for promotional purposes.

(9) The decisions of shortlisters and judges are final.

We will endeavour to provide entrants with feedback on request, but this isn’t always possible.

If you have any questions about the SPA Awards rules, please email chair@spajournalism.com.

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