In recent years, our pupils have entered a number of prestigious essay competitions run by various colleges at Oxford University and Cambridge University.
Please find below a collection of these essays and some background information about the competitions and those awarded with prizes.
RGS Young Geographer of the Year 2017
The Royal Geographic Society's annual Young Geographer of the Year competition requires entrants to explore a chosen topic in depth. This year pupils were provided with the opportunity to explore their favourite place. The competition has four categories: Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 9-11), Key Stage 3 (pupils aged 11-14), Key Stage 4 or GCSE (pupils aged 14-16) and Key Stage 5 or A Level (students aged 16-18).
Guy Milton-Jenkins was awarded Highly Commended for his essay
'My Favourite Place: Cardiff Bay'
RES Young Economist of the Year 2017
In the Spring term of each year, any school students studying UK GCSE, A level, SQC Intermediate 2/Highers or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses are invited to write a unique essay of between 1,000 to 2,500 words, on a subject set by the President of the Royal Economic Society, calling on key elements of their studies, examples from the world around them and imaginative discussion. Applications for each year's essay topics are managed online through our partners tutor2u, the UK's leading online educational publisher who provide advice and resources to assist students.
Matt Thorne was named joint Young Economist of the Year 2017 with his essay
'A recent UK tribunal case has found that Uber drivers are not self-employed and so should be paid the minimum wage and holiday pay. Is this to the advantage of actual and potential drivers or not?'
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Peter Cane Prize for Legal Reasoning by an Aspiring Lawyer
The prize seeks to promote engagement with the ideas and reasoning behind law and legal studies, and particular to encourage those from all backgrounds and walks of life to apply to study law, especially at University. The prize is named after the distinguished lawyer, Professor Peter Cane, an internationally acclaimed scholar of legal theory, obligations and public law, and Corpus’ first dedicated law fellow.
Patrick McSwiggan was this year's runner up with his essay
'The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957'
St Peter's College, Oxford
Edgar Jones Philosophy Prize
The aim of the prize is to provide for students in Year 12 or the Lower 6th an opportunity to write about a philosophical issue and thereby, it is hoped, enable them to develop their abilities for independent research and thought, and encourage them to apply for an undergraduate course with Philosophy as an element.
Will Cashmore was commended in this competition with his essay
'Can a rabbit be a person?'
Kelvin Science Essay Competition
This is an annual competition set by the oldest Cambridge College and is designed to give prospective applicants a chance to show off the calibre of their thinking. The science essay competition attracts around 150 entrants.
Toby Vickers and Harry Cooper-Simpson were both commended in this competition with their essays
'I don't know how far away the moon lies, but here's how I re-discovered π'
'I don't know how far away the moon lies, but here's how I re-discovered Agogadro's constant'.
Vellacott History Essay Competition
This is the most prestigious competition for Sixth Form historians. Students are asked to choose a topic that you have not previously studied at school from the long list of questions, which include a wide range of historical topics, also touching on a number of other subject areas, such as Classics, Theology, Art, Literature, Music, Politics, Architecture and Sociology.
Patrick McSwiggan was commended for his essay
'Why did early modern people accuse their neighbours of being witches?'
Vellacott History Essay Competition
Matt Thorne won this highly regarded competition in 2016 with his essay
'Why was child labour a problem for 19th century societies?'
St Hugh's College, Oxford
Julia Wood History Essay Competition
Established in 1971, in memory of a St Hugh’s College alumna, the Julia Wood Prize is an annual History essay competition open to Sixth Form pupils who have not been in the Sixth Form of any school or college for a period of more than two years.
Josh Stickland was runner up in this competition with his essay
'Was the fall of the Romanov dynasty inevitable?'
Essay Prize 2017
The Robinson College Essay Prize is an annual competition that is open to all students in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent) at a UK School. It is designed to give students the opportunity to develop and showcase their independent study and writing skills. By creating the opportunity for students to experience the type of work that they might be expected to do at Cambridge, we hope to encourage inquisitive and industrious students from all backgrounds to apply to Cambridge – and hopefully to Robinson College.
This year's questions were:
Discuss, with reference to any academic discipline, any area of interest raised by one of the following
1. "....A novel isn't simply a vehicle for private expression, but it also exists for social examination." [ATWOOD, M.]. Discuss.
2. "The greatest advances of civilisation, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralised government." [FRIEDMAN, M.].
3. If our ideas about gender are culturally shaped, should children be allowed to watch Disney films? Discuss
4. If you could take one item, which must fit in your pocket, back in time with the goal of advancing science or medicine, what would it be, where would you go, and what would you do with it?
5. Whose political speeches are superior: Donald Trump or Barack Obama. Discuss
The winners and Highly Commended Essayists were invited to the college to have a celebratory lunch with Dr David Woodman.
Essay Prize 2017 Winners and Highly Commended:
Owen addressed the question concerning the ability of centralised governments to produce great advances of civilisation by discussing, in great depth, the successes of the healthcare system in Cuba. Most impressive were his ability to logically construct an argument, marshalling various academic disciplines to make a strong and defensible case, whilst also looking beyond the face value of the question to grapple with larger economic arguments behind Friedman’s statement. This is achieved from start to finish with a cogent structure, pleasing pace, and excellent referencing. It is an outstanding piece of work. His essay demonstrates an exceptional awareness of modern social, economic and political history, a capacity to reflect upon the subject matter critically and most importantly, to write with lucidity and a skilful command of language.
In her essay, Rayna argued ingeniously to take a pocket spirometer back in time to its original inventor in the 1850s. The essay is a tour de force examining the history and context of smoking and global warming and how taking back such a device to measure vital capacity would have demonstrated the link between cardiorespiratory illness, smoking, air pollution and life expectancy to dramatically change the course of history. She has demonstrated clear evidence of thorough and detailed knowledge, along with an impressive capacity to reflect upon her research, which itself was wide ranging, relevant and all impeccably referenced. The response to the question was intensely creative, vivid, and above all exceptionally persuasive.
Sachin chose to discuss the potential of taking a testosterone pill back in time to America in 1919 after the invention of the mass spectrometer, to counter doping in sport. This ingenious idea was all the more enhanced by the captivating narrative style which Sachin imbued in his essay, and served not only produce an engaging argument but also to succinctly get his ideas across. He demonstrated sound knowledge of the context of doping in sport, and competent grasp of the scientific theory without sacrificing the discipline of closely answering the question. The result is an erudite piece of work that is astute, credible, and above all, convincing.
Connie has produced a creative and incisive reflection on the nature of gender in our modern society and the impact that negative gender connotations in Disney films can have on young children. Her essay attends very well to the question and successfully considers a wide range of factors without be swayed by prevailing public attitude. The opening lines of her introduction take the reader straight to the heart of the issue: the idea that damaging stereotypes often engulf our perception of gender. This argument is then woven throughout the essay in tangent with the chronological discussion of gender portrayal in Disney films since their first conception. The conclusion that children should not be banned from watching Disney films is soundly substantiated and well presented.
Michael’s essay was a brilliant, lively and ‘hands on’ essay that remained thoroughly anchored to the question, without any deviation or lack of clarity. He managed to remain ruthlessly unserved by moral norms or conventions external to the actual question and assess the merits of Donald Trump’s speeches without falling into the trap of being swayed by his own political view point. It was clearly the fruit of exceptional primary and secondary source work, coupled with reflection on the speeches themselves, put to great use in drawing an interesting conclusion. Overall and very interesting and eye opening read.
In her expansive essay, Charlotte explored a plethora of potential items that could be taken back in time with the goal of advancing science and medicine. The essay was thoughtful, reflective, and considered the question from a variety of angles before drawing a strong conclusion. Its greatest strength was its multi-perspectival approach which was executed to great effect. From her dissection of the phrasing of the question, she was the only candidate who discussed whether the best approach would be to advance medicine with the most impact or to create the highest certainty of positive change that the chosen item would bring. This was an impressive piece, which explored many of the options that other candidates mentioned, before critically evaluating them and exploring further, superior possibilities. Noting that all of the arguments she marshalled were dependent on the interpretation of the question itself, she came to the witty conclusion that the most important consideration was to extensively plan and prepare before engaging in time travel.
When faced with finding an item, small enough to fit in one’s pocket, that if taken back in time would advance science or medicine, Georgia came up with the notion of taking the copper intra uterine device back to the year 1873. Of the 20 answers to this question, this was one of the most impressive and ingenious responses, which was matched by her eloquent reasoning, and strong, lucid argument. A well written, thorough, and uncluttered piece of work, it grapples well with the core issues of the theory behind the copper coil and further, precisely how the IUD would be theoretically introduced into Victorian society to the greatest advantage. She presents a careful, yet moralising argument and pontificates that the IUD has the potential to make a great deal of difference in our modern society still - to give women the power and knowledge to make choices about their own bodies. A pleasure to read from start to finish.
George has written a highly creative piece, approaching the question through the structure of a Platonic dialogue which resulted in a highly competent essay and an enjoyable read. It was truly ingenious to adapt the Platonic format, derived from his study of philosophy and ethics, to ensure the clarity of his argument which then developed to interrogate the question along economic, historical, and political lines. A particular highlight was the use of Hegelian ‘Owl of Minerva’ imagery, which was woven through the essay, to illustrate his over-arching concern that political philosophies should not use history as a predictor of what is to come. This piece of work is multi-disciplinary in scope, sharp in focus, eloquent in presentation and a pleasure to read.
Ashley addressed the question that “the greatest advances of civilisation have never come from centralised government’ with a flair and panache that made his essay stand out from many of the other answers in this category. Particular noteworthy is his adroitness in utilising quotes in the narrative arc of his essay to their best advantage, to drive home and elucidate his argument about social security and neoliberal economic ideology. He demonstrated an excellent grasp of the context surrounding Friedman’s quote and an impeccable understanding of modern political history and climate. This piece of work was exceptionally well considered and sophisticated.
Jordan’s concise and persuasive essay was above all a fair examination of a topic that has the potential to be divisive and inflammatory. The terms of the essay are lucidly interrogated in the introduction, which then gives way to a careful and balanced examination of gender as a cultural construct from two opposing viewpoints. The student demonstrates an impressive grasp of sociology and command of language in a scholarly comparison of matrilineal societies with our own patriarchal society in the UK. Jordan then seamlessly segues into a discussion on free speech which ultimately and above all, logically, leads us to his conclusion. This essay was an effortless to read and above all sophisticated, clear and informative.
Ella’s essay is an exceptional combination of original thought, incisive reflection and wide ranging scope coming to the conclusion that private expression and social examination are both inherent elements of a novel. The introduction expertly interrogates the terms of Margaret Atwood’s infamous quote and condenses the question down to its essential theoretical components – the dichotomy between moralism and aestheticism in literature. This debate is skilfully examined in relation to various intellectual movements across Europe showing an impeccable awareness of context that is impressive in reach. A thoroughly enjoyable, lively and scholarly piece of work that encapsulates the writer’s enthusiasm for Literature, Languages, and History.
Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017 Essay Prize Winners 2017Essay Prize Winners 2017PreviousSlide 1/16 Next