Supporting Poster Projects

Poster Projects

Academic poster projects can be used to target varied learning outcomes and are, of course, notably a mainstay of academic conferences (for those students likely to pursue research moving past the under-graduate level).

Drawing on an example from the Philosophy department: students are asked to research a subject much as they would do for a standard written essay assessment (i.e. with appropriate academic rigour) but are ultimately asked to present their research in poster form. The assessment also includes a simple ‘presentation/defence’ of the poster (much as would occur at a conference) where students stand by their poster and are approached by staff who question them on aspects of their findings.

Emphasis is placed on accessibility of the content (it needs to be intelligible to someone not steeped in the discipline) and appropriate illustration and evidencing of the findings rather than use of the ‘academic voice’ (which is, of course, repeatedly assessed across the programme in other more traditional assessments).

Learning outcomes include improved communication and presentation skills (both visual and verbal) as well as transferable skills developed as a consequence of having to produce a poster. With space on a poster being at a premium, a key learning outcome for students is development of their capacity to identify their most important findings and communicate them concisely. Students are expressly informed that simply writing an essay and then transferring it to a poster format will not meet the marking criteria implemented for the project.

Supporting Poster Projects

Expecting students to produce a poster, particularly where the poster is to be summatively assessed, does need to be appropriately scaffolded, in terms of what is expected of the students academically (and via the marking criteria). Such endeavour also needs to be appropriately supported, in terms of the practicalities of developing a poster.

Poster Lectures

The E-Learning Development Team have developed an hour-long lecture to cover the basics of academic poster design. This is essentially a primer, designed to get students thinking about how they might present their findings and what the general concerns are with academic poster design when doing so (using examples). The latter half of the lecture also covers basic layout/graphic design do’s and don’ts with a view to preventing students from falling in to the common traps that non-graphic designers are prone to.



Coming Soon – Narrated version of this presentation.

A companion lecture to this has also been developed to cover the use of PowerPoint for poster design. This session, if delivered live, can take between thirty minutes and an hour to deliver depending on how it is pitched.



Coming Soon – Narrated version of this presentation.

For further information, or to arrange workshop(s) for your students, please email

Other Poster Resources

IT Services have also developed an excellent web-site on the use of PowerPoint for developing posters. This resource walks the novice poster designer through setting up PowerPoint, using its tool-set and saving the poster appropriately for print.

Example modules with student-generated poster output:

Summatively-assessed poster output:

  • First Year Project (Philosophy – Christopher Jay)

Non-assessed poster output:

  • Business and the Environment (Environment – Fiona Dickson)