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Banner with the text "GRADFlix:A Digital Narrative Competition"

Can you tell the story of your graduate research in two minutes or less? Learn more about the Yeates School of Graduate Studies’ (YSGS) GRADFlix digital narrative competition!

Ryerson master’s and doctoral students across disciplines are invited to create a two-minute video describing their research in an easy-to-understand way. This is a chance to get creative and communicate complex ideas using digital communication skills.

Finalists have a chance at big cash prizes and to have their video premiered at a YSGS final showcase and awards event!

Why participate?

  • Showcase your research. Develop your digital narrative skills and explain complex ideas in a more accessible way.
  • Learn a new skill. Enhance your communication skills through different formats and communicate to non-specialist audiences.
  • Develop your portfolio. Gain exposure to your work and research and share your video across your social and professional networks, including as part of your CV or LinkedIn profile.
  • Submit to other competitions. Your video may meet the criteria for other research video competitions, like the SSHRC Storytellers competition, external link.
  • Win cash prizes!


  • Students must be a registered Ryerson graduate student at the time of the competition.
  • To participate in the GRADFlix competition, you must be currently registered in a master's (thesis or MRP) or PhD program and have made substantial progress and are progressing with your research and analysis.
  • Videos must be based on your current graduate program thesis/dissertation/major research paper (MRP) research. 
  • You must read and agree to the Rules as well as the Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Considerations before applying to compete.

Please note:

  • PhD and master's students who have successfully defended their thesis but have not yet graduated are eligible. 
  • Videos can take many forms but must include: movement (slide transitions, animation or a subject moving on video) and sound (voice-over, audio and/or music).
  • Your video must be 2:00 minutes in length or shorter. If it is longer than 2:00 minutes, it will be disqualified.
  • Videos must represent research conducted for your thesis, MRP or dissertation in your current graduate program at Ryerson University.
  • By submitting your video, you agree to your video being made public.
  • You will be asked to provide a photo and short biography if selected as a finalist. Your photo and biography will also be made public.
  • By submitting your video, you agree that your submission is an original work created by you and that you have all necessary rights in and to the submission. 
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.

Students agree that the presentation of their research in the GRADFlix competition will be publicly accessible, i.e. in the public domain.

The presentation of the research will not affect any pre-existing rights prior to and following the competition except as stated below:

  • Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to sign non-disclosure statements. If your research is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, please discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with your supervisor(s) before participating in this competition.
  • All public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to video presentations, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast/streamed to interested persons through various media channels, including the Internet.
  • Any data or information discussed or presented in public sessions should be considered "public". If your research includes confidential or culturally sensitive material we advise that you discuss your competition entry with your supervisor(s) before entering the competition.
  • Ryerson University may capture images and recordings of the GRADFlix presentations, or material prepared for use in GRADFlix presentations, for promotional purposes and to support knowledge mobilization.
  • By submitting your video, you agree that your submission is an original work created by you and that you have all necessary rights in and to the submission. You also agree that this submission does not infringe upon or violate any laws or any third party rights, including, but not limited to, copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other proprietary rights and must not constitute material that would be considered libelling, defamatory, a privacy violation, tortious or a contract breach.

50% Communication

  • use of clear language and terminology; good pace  
  • appropriate use of images to complement message
  • contribution to research/scholarship is clear and understandable
  • logical sequence of information (i.e., easy to follow)
  • ability to explain complex ideas to a non-specialist audience

30% Creativity and visual impact

  • creative use of (limited) time
  • information presented creatively 
  • well-designed images/script
  • visually appealing, engaging

20% Technical quality 

  • high-quality sound and images
  • effective use of images and sound
  • citations/credits where required
  • First place: $1,000
  • Second place: $750
  • Third place: $500
  • People's Choice Award: $250

Please contact if you require any accommodations to ensure your inclusion in this competition.

  • GRADFlix information and training session - Thurs., October 7
  • Drop-in support sessions - Tues., November 16 (morning) & Thurs., November 25 (afternoon)
  • GRADFlix registration closes -  Fri., December 3
  • GRADFlix video submission deadline - Fri., January 14, 2022
  • GRADFlix final showcase - Tues., January 25, 2022

GRADFlix Information/Training Workshop

Come to the information session and find out everything you need to know about the competition and how to produce a winning video—even using a smartphone!

Please contact if you were unable to make the information session and would like more information.

GRADFlix Drop-in Feedback Sessions 

The drop-ins are a flexible, informal (virtual) space to help you create, refine or finish your GRADFlix submission. Have a copy of your video ready to share with staff, or use this time to work on your submission. Staff will be available to provide feedback or answer any questions you have about video best practices. The link to attend will be emailed to registered competitors prior to the drop-in session.

Receive some help and/or feedback on your video before the competition!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q - I've submitted a video in a past GRADFlix competition. Can I compete again?

Yes, students who have competed and did not win ARE eligible to compete. However, participants can not resubmit a previously submitted video and must change the previous submission by at least 50%.

Q - What proportion of my degree has to have a research component for me to be eligible to compete?

You are eligible to compete if your degree involves a thesis, dissertation or MRP. The video must be about your research. Students enrolled in course-based programs, without an MRP or independent research component are not eligible.

Q - Can I enter more than one video?

No. Only one entry per participant.

Q - Can I win more than one category?

Yes, it is possible to win or place (first or runner-up) and win the Peoples' Choice Award also.

Q - What is the Peoples' Choice Award?

This is a winner that is selected by attendees at the final showcase in an anonymous vote.


Q - How long should my video be?

Your video must be 2:00 minutes in length or shorter. If it is longer than 2:00, it will be disqualified.

Q - Do I need to write and produce all of the content myself?

Yes. The video content must be original and you must be the sole author of the content.

Q - Can I have help filming it? With the camera work, lighting, sound recording, editing?

Yes. You could get technical assistance for filming, however, it should be directed and scripted by you and the content must be original. YSGS will not provide technical assistance at any stage of the competition (i.e., editing, formatting, equipment, etc.).

Q - Can I use music in my submission?

As long as the music or audio recording doesn’t violate or potentially violate any copyrights (see Copyright below), you may use music in your submission. However, if you are unsure we suggest not using it in your video as submissions with copyright violations or potential copyright violations as determined by the judges may be disqualified.

Q - Is it okay to work in a group?

GRADFlix is a competition for individuals only. You can use friends or family as actors in your video with their consent. However, you must be the sole creator of your submission and it must be entirely your own independent work.


It is illegal to use copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner, and it may be considered copyright infringement. In addition, any submissions with copyright or potential copyright violations, as determined in the sole discretion of the judges, may be disqualified. If you are not sure whether something you use or post to the website infringes someone’s copyright, then you should not use it.


Q - Will I be notified about how my video did in the judging process?

All competitors will be invited to the showcase awards event where the winners will be announced.

Winners of the GRADFlix competition as decided by a panel of judges are announced at a Showcase and Awards event. The event welcomes GRADFlix participants, friends and family and the entire Ryerson community to a premiere of video submissions and awards announcements.

The fall 2021 competition showcase is scheduled for late January 2022. Please stay tuned for further details.

First place: “Modelling Tumour Growth and Radiation”

Nicole Wilson, Applied Mathematics MSc

Third place: “‘places that make me feel i'm home’: Trans* Representation in Our Own Voice”

Peter Totten, Documentary Media MFA

Second place: “Next Generation Solar Power Converters”

Sandeep Kaler, Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD

People's Choice Award: “Architecture for Aging Populations: Promoting Healthy Aging Through Social Proximity in Housing”

Tejal Lad, Architecture MArch

Winter 2021 judges:

  • Dr. Paul Moore, Professor, Sociology
  • Jennifer Grass, Assistant Vice-President, University Relations
  • Dr. Hong Yu, Associate Dean, Graduate Programs, TRSM

Questions? For more information contact:

Sarah Pratt
Communications and Social Media Coordinator

The University of Waterloo developed GRADflix in 2018 as a research communication opportunity for graduate students. It serves as the inspiration for Ryerson’s GRADFlix competition.