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John Locke Institute Essay Competition - 2017


The John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style. The John Locke Institute Essay Competition invites students to tackle a challenging and interesting question and delve deeply into a particular subject, beyond the confines of the school curriculum.


Entering an essay in our competition can build knowledge, and refine skills of argumentation. It also gives students the chance to have their work assessed by experts. All of our essay prizes are judged by academics from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The judges will choose their favourite essay from each subject category and an overall 'best essay' across the four subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics and History.


Entry Requirements

Entry is open to students from any country and any school. Candidates must be between fifteen and eighteen years old on the date of the submission deadline, and must not yet have begun a degree course at university. Essays should be submitted by August 21st, 2016. We will notify finalists by September 9th, and prize winners will be announced at the prize-giving ceremony on 16 September.

Essays should address only one of the questions in the chosen subject category and should be no longer than 2000 words. Please submit your work as an email attachment, saved in pdf format, to The Education Director, John Locke Institute at


There is a prize for the best essay in each subject category, Philosophy, Politics, Economics and History, provided the entries submitted are of a sufficiently high quality in the opinion of the judges. Each subject prize is worth £100, and the essays will be published (with the authors' permission) on the Institute website. The prize-giving ceremony will take place in Oxford on 16 Spetember, and winners and runners-up will be able to meet the judges and members of the John Locke Institute, and hear a speech by a guest speaker. Family, friends and teachers are also welcome.


In addition to the subject prizes, the candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honourary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, worth £250.


The judges' decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.



Essays will be judged on the level of knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the quality of argumentation, the structure, writing style and persuasive force. Candidates are advised to answer the question as directly as possible.

2016 Essay Questions

For this year's subject specific essay questions see here: Philosophy; Politics; Economics and History.

Essay Competition
Prize-giving 2015


2015 Overall Winner & Recipient of the

John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship:


Mark Bogod