Applying to University
John Locke Institute Essay Competition - 2020
2020 questions will be announced in December this year. Please register here to receive an email notification when the new essay questions are released.
Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 15 July 2020 at midnight.
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. Our Essay Competition invites students to explore a wide range of challenging and interesting questions 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 senior academics from the University of Oxford. The judges will choose their favourite essay from each subject category and an overall 'best essay' across seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.
Entry requirements and further details
Entry is open to students from any country and any school. Candidates must be eighteen years old, or younger, on the date of the submission deadline, 15 July 2020. (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be fourteen years old, or younger, on the date of the submission deadline.)
Each essay should address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, footnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). Please submit your essay, saved in pdf format, through our website. The title of the pdf attachment should read SURNAME, First Name (e.g. POPHAM, Alexander).
Wednesday, 15 July 2020: Submission deadline
Friday, 31 July: Short-listed candidates notified
Winners will be announced at the award ceremony in Oxford (date to be advised).
There is a prize for the best essay in each subject category. 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, at which winners and runners-up will be able to meet the judges and other faculty members of the John Locke Institute. Family, friends and teachers are also welcome, subject to capacity constraints.
The candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, worth £500.
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 precisely and directly as possible.
"I hope you will find this year's questions thought-provoking, and that you will be one of the thousands of contestants from over a hundred different countries to submit an essay to what has become the world's largest essay competition. Not only will the experience of researching and writing the essay be a valuable learning experience, but the shortlisted candidates will be invited to Oxford to join with other talented young people who have thought carefully about the same question, for a unique series of precepts under the experienced leadership of an academic expert."
Martin Cox, Director of the John Locke Institute
I haven't received an acknowledgement that my essay has been submitted. Have you received it?
Are footnotes or bibliography counted towards the word limit?
How strict is the age eligibility criteria?
May I submit more than one essay?
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