Better Lives is a photographic competition organised by the Economic and Social Research Council.

By entering the competition you are deemed to accept the following competition rules, terms and conditions.

You must submit a supporting statement with your photograph, of up to 100 words, explaining how your image relates both to the entered category and to social science. This information will be given equal consideration, alongside the image, during the judging process.

You will be able enter the competition from 1 October 2018 until 7 December 2018.

1. Timing

  1. The ESRC 'Better Lives' photographic competition will close at 23:00 on 7 December 2018.
  2. The winners of each of the categories, overall winner and judges' favourite image will be announced at the ESRC prize-giving awards event.
  3. Prize winners and photographers of exhibited images will be invited to attend the private viewing and prize-giving awards event by 1 March 2019. This will be held at the Espacio Gallery, London on 26 March 2019.
  4. If you have not received an email from us by the end of February 2018, you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.

2. Eligibility

  1. The Better Lives competition is open to all young people resident in the UK and born between 1 September 2000 and 31 August 2004. This competition is not open to ESRC staff or their immediate family.
  2. Entry to the competition is free.
  3. All entries must relate to one of the categories.
  4. All photos entered must be entered under an individual's name.
  5. We reserve the right to reject any entries which we deem to be offensive, unsuitable or inappropriate.

3. Entry 

  1. All entries must relate to the category in which they are entered.
  2. All entries must meet the digital image criteria as specified in section 4 of the rules.
  3. Entrants are able to submit up to a total of three photographs in the competition. Each photograph may only be submitted once. You are able to enter your photographs in just one category, or spread your entries across two or three of the five categories. 
  4. Each photograph must be given a short title and this must be used as the file name when it is uploaded in the format: image title.jpg (eg Family_Picnic.jpg).
  5. Each photograph must be submitted with a supporting statement of up to 100 words, which demonstrates how the image relates to the category and to social science. This statement will be scored by the judges alongside your image.
  6. All entries to the competition must be submitted via the online entry form. Prints or entries received via email or disc are not permitted and will not be entered into the competition.

4. Digital image criteria

  1. Only digital photograph entries submitted via the online form will be accepted.
  2. Photographs should meet a minimum file size of 1Mb and a maximum file size of 20Mb. 
  3. The minimum accepted image resolution is 250dpi.
  4. All entries must be submitted as a .jpg or .tif only and must not be submitted from film stills. We reserve the right to reject entries submitted in other formats.
  5. All winning entrants will be required to supply their image in a high resolution format for print and publicity purposes.

5. Entry terms, consent and copyright

  1. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and the entrant must hold full copyright of the images. The ESRC reserves the right to request confirmation of copyright. If this cannot be proven, the image will be withdrawn from the competition.
  2. All images must have been taken on or after 1 January 2018.
  3. Photographs which have won prizes in major photographic competitions may not be entered.
  4. Entries must not contain anything obscene or libellous.
  5. Light touch ups are acceptable to sharpen images, remove red eye, scratches or spots. Entrants must declare if the image has been modified or manipulated beyond light touch ups (in Photoshop, for example) and state the extent of any additional work.
  6. Entrants aged 16 and under must gain the permission of their parent or guardian before entering the competition by providing their name and email address. They will receive a copy of the notification of your entry.
  7. Entrants must not have breached any laws when taking their photograph(s).
  8. Entrants are responsible for seeking permission from the parents or guardians of those individuals in their photograph if their subjects are aged 16 years or under.
  9. Entrants are responsible for seeking permission of any identifiable individuals in their photograph who are over 16 years old.
  10. By entering the competition, entrants agree to the ESRC publishing and exhibiting their image(s) in perpetuity as part of its work, without payment for use. Entrants grant this non-exclusive right to ESRC within any type of media, but entrants will retain full copyright of their image(s).
  11. By entering the competition entrants agree to their images being used for publicity and promotional activities, including use by the national and regional press.
  12. Entrants agree to any cropping of their image and editing of their titles and/or supporting text for exhibition purposes.
  13. All prizes are non-transferable.
  14. If entrants choose to use their entered images for commercial purposes they must notify the ESRC of their intent by emailing
  15. Travel expenses will be paid for the winner, their parents or guardians and their teacher or youth leader to attend the prize-giving event in line with ESRC travel and subsistence guidelines. This will not include accommodation or meals.

6. Entrant personal information

  1. Personal information will be captured as part of the entry process and used for the purpose of processing your entry and prize notification.
  2. The winner's name, age, school and region only (ie John Smith, 17, My school, Scotland) will be made available to the press and media, alongside the winning image, for promotional and publicity purposes.
  3. Winners and exhibited photographers will have their name and school displayed alongside their image at the exhibition and at any additional venues hosting the exhibition.
  4. Personal information will not be stored or processed for any other purposes, and the ESRC will not share personal information with any third party without express permission from the entrant. It is the ESRC's policy to comply fully with the General Data Protection Regulations Act 2018.

7. Teacher personal information

  1. It is the responsibility of entrants to gain permission from their teacher or youth leader to provide the ESRC with their contact information.
  2. By providing a teacher/youth leader's name and email address, the ESRC will contact the teacher/youth leader in the event that the entrant's image is successful in winning a prize in the competition.
  3. The teacher/youth leader will also receive email correspondence from the ESRC, introducing them to the Social Science for Schools resources.
  4. Teacher and youth leader information will only be retained for the purpose of informing you of future competitions. ESRC will not share their personal information with any third party without their express permission. It is the ESRC's policy to comply fully with the General Data Protection Regulations Act 2018.
  5. You have the right to request your details removed from this record at any point after the exhibition closes (30 March 2019) by emailing