Student Design Award 2017


Your chance to win a work placement within the
Penguin Random House Design Studios
as well as £1,000 in prize money



The 2017 winners have now been announced

View the winners   Read the announcement


The Penguin Random House Student Design Award is an opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in design to experience real cover design briefs first-hand.

To make the process even more similar to the way our designers work, once the judges have selected the shortlist, the Art Directors will give the shortlisted entrants feedback and further art direction on their submissions. Shortlisted entrants will then be invited to resubmit their work, taking on board all the comments, before the final round of judging.

The Penguin Random House Student Design Award is open to anyone studying on a Further Education or Higher Education course (part time or full time) in any subject and at any level. Entrants must be aged 18 or over by July 2017. The competition is not open to anyone who is currently or has previously been employed in the graphic design field.  See the Terms and Conditions for full details of entry requirements.

Students may enter a maximum of one design in each of the categories:

Adult Fiction Cover Award

Adult Fiction Cover Award

To Kill a Mockingbird 

Harper Lee 

Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote

Children's Cover Award

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾

Sue Townsend  

Important Dates

All entries must be submitted digitally via the submissions site.  

The closing date for entries is 12:00 (GMT) on Tuesday 7 March 2017.

Entrants will be notified by email on Thursday 27 April 2017 as to whether they have been shortlisted. Those successful in being shortlisted will be emailed with individual feedback and further art direction on their covers, and the closing date for resubmission of their work is Friday 12 May 2017. 


A letter from Tom Weldon, Penguin Random House CEO

Standout cover design is an integral part of the success of a book and Penguin Random House has created thousands of iconic book covers throughout the years. The vital role of illustrators and designers in the production of some of the world's best-loved adult and children's books has created and defined the identity of our UK publishing lists.

We value creativity and design incredibly highly, and started the Penguin Random House Design Award eleven years ago to encourage the next generation of designers to use their amazing talents to help us tell our authors' stories.

I am always impressed with the quality of submissions and I look forward to seeing what this year’s talent has to offer.  


‘The Award gave me the stepping stone I needed to find a career I'm passionate about and to discover my love for illustrating literary fiction’

Alexandra Allden – winner of the Penguin Adult Cover Award 2011


Terms & Conditions


Entries will be accepted through this website between 00:01 (GMT) on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 and 12:00 (GMT) on Tuesday, 7 March 2017.


To be eligible for the 2017 competition, you must be a student on a Further Education or Higher Education course (part time or full time) in any subject and at any level. Entrants must be aged 18 or over by 1 July 2017. The competition is open to amateur designers not currently or previously employed in the graphic design field.

Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK. We regret that Penguin Random House UK is unable to provide a certificate of sponsorship should a work visa be required in order to take up the first prize work placement.

We advise entrants that ideally they should have a reasonable standard of English so that, if they win the first prize, they are able to get the most out of their work placement.

There can be only one named entrant per entry.


Entrants may submit one design into each of the following categories: (i) the Adult Fiction Cover Award; (ii) the Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award; (iii) the Children’s Cover Award. You may not submit more than one design for each category.


All entries must be supplied digitally via the link which will be available on this site from Wednesday, 18 January 2017. Entries submitted in any other way, including by email or hard copy, will not be accepted.

Entries must be supplied as a high-resolution PDF, 300 dpi, CMYK.


  1. There is no fee to enter the competition.
  2. Closing date for receipt of all entries is 12:00 (GMT) on Tuesday, 7 March 2017.
  3. This competition is open to students on a Further Education or Higher Education course (part time or full time) in any subject and at any level. Entrants must be aged 18 or over by 1 July 2017.  This competition is not open to anyone who has been or is currently employed in a graphic design job or to employees of Promoter, their families, agents and anyone else connected with this competition. Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK.
  4. No responsibility can be accepted for incorrectly uploaded entries or those that are illegible or corrupted. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid and shall not be considered.
  5. All correctly completed entries for each category shall be forwarded to a judging panel, comprised as follows, who will select a shortlist of entries for each category:

    a) Adult Fiction Cover Award – The Penguin Random House Art Directors and guest judges

    b) Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award – The Penguin Random House Art Directors, Penguin General Managing Director and guest judges

    c) Children’s Cover Award – The Penguin Random House UK Children’s Art Director, Penguin Random House UK Children’s Managing Director and guest judges.

  6. The shortlists for each category will be announced on this website by Thursday, 27 April 2017.
  7. The shortlisted entrants will be contacted in writing by Thursday, 27 April 2017 and invited to resubmit their entry following feedback and further art direction from the Penguin Random House Art Directors. The closing date for the shortlisted entrants' resubmissions is 12:00 (GMT) on Friday, 12 May 2017.
  8. Shortlisted entrants will be required to provide the following submissions for each design entry:

    a) An A3 board showing the full jacket to scale 1:1.
    b) The design mocked up on two copies of the book (which Promoter will supply).
    c) A short, typewritten text (max. 50–100 words only) submitted as a Word document, explaining the concept for your design.
    d) An A3 board demonstrating the development of the thought process from the original research to the final concept. A digital copy must also be supplied on USB memory stick or CD.
    e) A high-resolution PDF and jpeg of the front cover only and full cover design without bleed or trim marks on USB memory stick or CD.
    f) The sender must prepay all shipping costs, insurance, customs duties and handling fees for all entries.

  9. Entries will not be returned and the Promoter accepts no responsibility for the loss of or damage to any portfolios or other cases in which shortlisted entrants send their resubmissions.
  10. A first-, second- and third-prize winner will be selected for each of the three categories. The winning designs will be the ones which, in the opinion of the judges, best fulfil the brief.
  11. All entrants whose entries are shortlisted and who subsequently provide resubmissions in accordance with terms above shall be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London in June 2017 at which the winners shall be announced. With the exception of entry to the event itself, all travel, accommodation and other costs associated with attending the awards ceremony are the sole responsibility of the entrants.
  12. The first-prize winner of each of the three categories will be offered a four-week work placement in the Penguin Random House Design Studios and a cash prize of £1,000. The work placement will be paid at the London Living Wage rate. Accommodation and any other costs associated with the work placement will not be provided. All work placements will be subject to agreeing terms and will take place within one year of the announcement of the prize winners on dates to be mutually agreed between the Promoter and the winners. The second-prize winners of each category will each receive a cash prize of £500. The third-prize winners of each category will each receive a cash prize of £250.
  13. The prizes are non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered to the first-prize winners. However, if, at the sole discretion of the judges, none of the entries in any of the categories is of a sufficiently high standard to merit the awards, no prizes, or only second and third prizes, may be awarded.
  14. Events may occur that render the design competition itself or the awarding of the prizes impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the Promoter. The Promoter may, at its absolute discretion, vary or amend the competition and the terms thereof and the winners agree that, in such event, no liability shall attach itself to the Promoter, provided that any substituted prize shall be of no lesser value.
  15. The decision of the judges is final and correspondence will be entered into only at the absolute discretion of the Promoter.
  16. The winners agree to take part in reasonable post-event publicity and to the use of their names and photographs in such publicity.
  17. Entrants acknowledge and agree that the Penguin, Vintage and Puffin design templates, Penguin, Vintage and Puffin logos and the cover copy supplied in the entry packs are the property of Promoter. Entrants’ use of any material comprised in the entry packs, including the items listed in the previous sentence, is limited to use in respect of this competition only. No further use shall be permitted without the Promoter’s prior written consent.
  18. All entrants hereby license to Promoter the use of their entry for display on any Promoter-owned or third-party website or other media for publicity purposes. Entrants further permit Promoter to display their entries in a physical exhibition. The choice of which entries are included in any such exhibition shall be solely made by the Promoter without consultation. Appropriate credits will be given to each item displayed, but Promoter shall not be under any obligation to hold such exhibitions, or to include every entry if it does.
  19. By entering this competition each entrant confirms that his/her entry is their wholly-owned creation and to the extent that such entry makes use of any third party materials, that these have been fully cleared unless they are no longer protected by copyright or other intellectual property rights. Entrants must ensure that their entry makes clear reference to any 3rd materials used. Entrants will keep the Promoter harmless from any claims in relation to their entry alleging that the entry infringes the personal or proprietary right of any other person.
  20. Promoter will use any data submitted by entrants only for the purposes of running the competition, unless otherwise stated in the entry details. By entering this competition, all entrants consent to the use of their personal data by Promoter for the purposes of the administration of this competition and any other purposes to which the entrant has consented.
  21. Promoter may disqualify any entrant whose entry does not comply with these terms and conditions (in Promoter’s sole opinion) or who, in Promoter’s sole determination, has acted in a manner that is fraudulent, dishonest or unjust to other entrants including, without limitation, tampering with the operation of the competition, manipulating or rigging votes, hacking, deceiving, cheating or by harassing or threatening other entrants, the panel or a representative of Promoter.
  22. These terms and conditions are governed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and the courts of the same shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any claims arising out of or in connection with this promotion.


Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL on behalf of itself and the Random House Group Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA.

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Penguin Random House Student Design Award
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