School & College Philosophy Essay Prizes (2019/20)

School Philosophy Essay Prizes Cameo

You could boost your university philosophy application by receiving a commendation from, or even winning, one of the various philosophy essay prizes that are available for pre-university students to enter.

If the university you're applying to requires a sample of writing, as some Cambridge colleges do for example, then your prize entry could also supplement your university application.

Here are the prizes that I know of, arranged in order of entry deadline throughout the academic year, running from July 1st to June 31st. Please follow my social media pages for regular updates as the titles appear.

If you're thinking of entering, especially if you don't have a specialist philosophy tutor, I offer a philosophy-essay writing masterclass, which might help get you started.

If you know of other prizes, not listed here, then by all means let me know, and I'll add them to the page.

If you'd like an essay writing masterclass or some recommended reading; or if you'd like me to comment on your latest draft, I'd be delighted to receive your email. School Philosophy Essay Prize Enquiry

St Peter's College, Oxford, Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20

Entrants for the Edgar Jones Philosophy Prize must be in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) of their school or college. Your essay must be a maximum of 2,000 words.

"The aims of the prizes are 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."

The 2019/20 title is "What are facts?"

The deadline has passed and was September 6th 2019

If you'd like some recommended reading for your chosen essay, or you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, then by all means email me: St Peter's College Philosophy Prize Enquiry

New College of the Humanities, London, Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20

Entrants must be in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) of their school or college, and your essay must be less than 1,500 words.

The college's website says "This is a global competition, so we encourage entries from those studying anywhere in the world."

The 2019/20 title is "Are we morally responsible for our actions, even if they are ultimately caused by factors beyond our control?"

The deadline has passed and was January 31st 2020.

If you don't have a specialist philosophy teacher you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, then by all means email me: New College of the Humanities, London, Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20, Email

University of Sheffield Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20

Entrants may be in Years 10, 11 or 12 of their school or college, and your essay must be between 1,000 and 1,500 words.

The main aim of the prize is to: "widen interest in philosophy and in studying philosophy at university level among students who would not otherwise be exposed to the subject."

The 2019/20 titles are as follows (see the Sheffield website for suggested reading):

  • "Is Epicurus right that a wise person does not fear death?"
  • "Are referenda truly democratic?"
  • "Do you think political violence can ever be justified?"
  • "What is truth?"
  • "Is time travel possible?"

The deadline has passed and was March 27th 2020.

If you don't have a specialist philosophy teacher you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, then by all means email me: University of Sheffield Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20 Email

Newnham College, Cambridge, Philosophy Essay Prize 2019/20

Entrants is open to all girls currently in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) of their school or college, and your essay must be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.

"The aim of the prize is to to give students the opportunity to think and write about philosophy and philosophical matters in the broadest sense, while developing their independent study and writing skills."

The 2019/2020 title is:

"Amid all the profuse waste of the means of happiness which men commit, there is no imprudence more flagrant than that of Selfishness in the ordinary sense of the term"
(Henry Sidgwick).

Are we happier if we are unselfish? Does this show that ethics is indirectly a matter of self-interest?


The deadline is May 11th 2020.

If you don't have a specialist philosophy teacher you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, then by all means email me: Newnham College, Cambridge, Philosophy Essay Prize 2019/20 Email

Trinity College, Cambridge, Philosophy Essay Prize, 2020

Entrants must be in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) of their school or college, and your essay must be between 2,000 and 4,000 words.

"The aim of the Prize is to encourage able sixth formers to pursue their interest in Philosophy, with the hope that they will be encouraged to read this or related subjects at University."

The 2019/20 titles are:

  • "If you learn that humanity will be extinct in twenty years, what difference should it make to what you value?"
  • "Could you be friends with a robot?"

The deadline is May 31st 2020.

If you don't have a specialist philosophy teacher you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, then by all means email me: Trinity College Philosophy Prize Enquiry

Oriel College, Oxford, Lloyd Davies Philosophy Essay Prize, 2019/20

Entrants for the Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize must be in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) of their school or college.

Your essay must be no more than 2,000 words.

"The judges will look for originality of thought, a clear grasp of the issues, clarity in presentation and a critical approach to what has been read. They will also look for a clear structure to the essay."

The 2019/20 titles are:

  • "Should vaccines be compulsory?"
  • "Is it rational to believe in the existence of viruses but not to believe in the existence of dark matter?"
  • "Could you survive the transplant of your brain into another body?"

The deadline is June 22nd 2020.

If you'd like some recommended reading for your chosen essay, or you'd like an experienced university tutor to read your latest draft, especially if you have no specialist philosophy teacher, then by all means email me: Oriel College Philosophy Prize Enquiry
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Site updated: May 3rd 2020