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2024 Global ESSAY PRIZE

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 a panel of senior academics drawn from leading universities including Oxford and Princeton, under the leadership of the Chairman of Examiners, former Cambridge philosopher, Dr Jamie Whyte.

 

The judges will choose their favourite essay from each of seven subject categories - Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law - and then select the winner of the Grand Prize for the best entry in any subject. There is also a separate prize awarded for the best essay in the junior category, for under 15s.

2022 Questions

Philosophy

Q1. Do we have any good reasons to trust our moral intuition?

Q2. Do girls have a right to compete in sporting contests that exclude boys?

 

Q3. Should I be held responsible for what I believe?

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Politics

Q1. Is there such a thing as too much democracy?

 

Q2. Is peace in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip possible?

Q3. When is compliance complicity?

Economics

Q1. What is the optimal global population?  

 

Q2. Accurate news reporting is a public good. Does it follow that news agencies should be funded from taxation?

 

Q3. Do successful business people benefit others when making their money, when spending it, both, or neither?

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Q1. Why was sustained economic growth so rare before the later 18th century and why did this change?

 

Q2. Has music ever significantly changed the course of history?

 

Q3. Why do civilisations collapse? Is our civilisation in danger?

Law

Q1. When, if ever, should a company be permitted to refuse to do business with a person because of that person’s public statements?

 

Q2. In the last five years British police have arrested several thousand people for things they posted on social media. Is the UK becoming a police state?

 

Q3. Your parents say that 11pm is your bedtime. But they don’t punish you if you don’t go to bed by 11pm. Is 11pm really your bedtime?

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Psychology

Q1. According to a study by four British universities, for each 16-point increase in IQ, the likelihood of getting married increases by 35% for a man but decreases by 40% for a woman. Why? 

 

Q2. There is an unprecedented epidemic of depression and anxiety among young people. Can we fix this? How?

 

Q3. What is the difference between a psychiatric illness and a character flaw?

Q1. “I am not religious, but I am spiritual.” What could the speaker mean by “spiritual”?

Q2. Is it reasonable to thank God for protection from some natural harm if He is responsible for causing the harm?

 

Q3. Does God reward those who believe in him? If so, why?

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Q1. Does winning a free and fair election automatically confer a mandate for governing?

 

Q2. Has the anti-racism movement reduced racism?

 

Q3. Is there life after death?

Q4. How did it happen that governments came to own and run most high schools, while leaving food production to private enterprise? 

Q5. When will advancing technology make most of us unemployable? What should we do about this?

Q6. Should we trust fourteen-year-olds to make decisions about their own bodies? 

 

Entry Requirements
Key Dates

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
&
FURTHER DETAILS

Please read the following carefully.

 

Entry to the John Locke Institute Essay Competition 2024 is open to students from any country.

Registration 

Only candidates who registered before the registration deadline of Friday, 31 May 2024 may enter this year's competition.

Submission

All entries must be submitted by 11.59 pm BST on the submission deadline: Sunday, 30 June 2024Candidates must be eighteen years old, or younger, on that date. (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be fourteen years old, or younger, on that date.)


Entry is free.


Each essay must address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, endnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). 


The filename of your pdf must be in this format: FirstName-LastName-Category-QuestionNumber.pdf; so, for instance, Alexander Popham would submit his answer to question 2 in the Psychology category with the following file name:

 

Alexander-Popham-Psychology-2.pdf

 

Essays with filenames which are not in this format will be rejected.

Candidates should NOT add footnotes. They may, however, add endnotes and/or a Bibliography that is clearly titled as such.

Each candidate will be required to provide the email address of an academic referee who is familiar with the candidate's written academic work. This should be a school teacher, if possible, or another responsible adult who is not a relation of the candidate. The John Locke Institute will email referees to verify that the essays submitted are indeed the original work of the candidates.


Submissions may be made as soon as registration opens in April. We recommend that you submit your essay well in advance of the deadline to avoid any last-minute complications.

Acceptance of your essay depends on your granting us permission to use your data for the purposes of receiving and processing your entry as well as communicating with you about the Awards Ceremony Dinner, the academic conference for essay competition finalists, and other events and programmes of the John Locke Institute and its associated entities.
 

Late entries

If for any reason you miss the 30 June deadline you will have an opportunity to make a late entry, under two conditions:

a) A late entry fee of 20.00 USD must be paid by credit card within twenty-four hours of the original deadline; and

b) Your essay must be submitted before 11.59 pm BST on Wednesday, 10 July 2024.

 

To pay for late entry, a registrant need only log into his or her account, select the relevant option and provide the requested payment information.

Assessment

Our grading system is proprietary. Essayists may be asked to discuss their entry with a member of the John Locke Institute’s faculty. We use various means to identify plagiarism, contract cheating, the use of AI and other forms of fraud. Our determinations in all such matters are final.


Essays will be judged on knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the competent use of evidence, quality of argumentation, originality, structure, writing style and persuasive force. The very best essays are likely to be those which would be capable of changing somebody's mind. Essays which ignore or fail to address the strongest objections and counter-arguments are unlikely to be successful.


Candidates are advised to answer the question as precisely and directly as possible.

Results

The writers of the best essays will receive a commendation and be shortlisted for a prize. Writers of shortlisted essays will be notified by 11.59 pm BST on Wednesday, 31 July. They will also be invited to London for an invitation-only academic conference and awards dinner in September, where the prize-winners will be announced. Unlike the competition itself, the academic conference and awards dinner are not free. Please be aware that nobody is required to attend either the academic conference or the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to London.


All short-listed candidates, including prize-winners, will be able to download eCertificates that acknowledge their achievement. If you win First, Second or Third Prize, and you travel to London for the ceremony, you will receive a signed certificate. 

Prizes

There is a prize for the best essay in each category. The prize for each winner of a subject category, and the winner of the Junior category, is a scholarship worth US$2000 towards the cost of attending any John Locke Institute programme, and the essays will be published on the Institute's website. Prize-giving ceremonies will take place in London, at which winners and runners-up will be able to meet some of the judges and other faculty members of the John Locke Institute. Family, friends, and teachers are also welcome.


The candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, which comes with a US$10,000 scholarship to attend one or more of our summer schools and/or visiting scholars programmes. 

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

Key Dates

  • Registration opens: 1 April, 2024.

  • Registration deadline: 31 May, 2024. (Registration is required by this date for subsequent submission.)

  • Submission deadline: 30 June, 2024.

  • Late entry deadline: 10 July, 2024. (Late entries are subject to a 20.00 USD charge, payable by 1 July.)

  • Notification of short-listed essayists: 31 July, 2024.

  • Academic conference: 20 - 22 September, 2024.

  • Awards dinner: 21 September, 2024.

Contact
Any queries regarding the essay competition should be sent to global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com. Please be aware that, due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to answer every query. In particular, regrettably, we are unable to respond to questions whose answers can be found on our website.
If you would like to receive helpful tips from our examiners about what makes for a winning essay or reminders of upcoming key dates for the 2024 essay competition, please provide your email here to be added to our contact list. 

Thanks for subscribing!

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The John Locke Institute's Global Essay Prize is acknowledged as the world's most prestigious essay competition. 

 

We welcome tens of thousands of submissions from ambitious students in more than 150 countries, and our examiners - including distinguished philosophers, political scientists, economists, historians, psychologists, theologians, and legal scholars - read and carefully assess every entry. 

 

I encourage you to register for this competition, not only for the hope of winning a prize or commendation, and not only for the chance to join the very best contestants at our academic conference and gala ceremony in London, but equally for the opportunity to engage in the serious scholarly enterprise of researching, reflecting on, writing about, and editing an answer to one of the important and provocative questions in this year's Global Essay Prize. 

 

We believe that the skills you will acquire in the process will make you a better thinker and a more effective advocate for the ideas that matter most to you.

 

I hope to see you in September!

 

Best wishes,

 

Jamie Whyte, Ph.D. (CANTAB

Chairman of Examiners

Notification

Q. I missed the registration deadline. May I still register or submit an essay?

A. No. Only candidates who registered before 31 May will be able to submit an essay. 

Q. Are footnotes, endnotes, a bibliography or references counted towards the word limit?

A. No. Only the body of the essay is counted. However, you may not use footnotes: please use endnotes instead. 

Q. Are in-text citations counted towards the word limit?

 

A. If you are using an in-text based referencing format, such as APA, your in-text citations are included in the word limit.

Q. Should citations be footnotes or in-text citations?

A. We do not allow footnotes. Please use in-text citations or endnotes.

Q. Is it necessary to include footnotes or endnotes in an essay?

 

A. You may not include footnotes, but you may include endnotes. You should give your sources of any factual claims you make, and you should acknowledge any other authors on whom you rely.​

Q. I am interested in a question that seems ambiguous. How should I interpret it?


A. You may interpret a question as you deem appropriate, clarifying your interpretation if necessary. Having done so, you must answer the question as directly as possible.

 

Q. How strict are the age eligibility criteria?

 

A. Only students whose nineteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2024 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. In the case of the Junior category, only students whose fifteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2024 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. 

 

Q. May I submit more than one essay?

 

A. Yes, you may submit as many essays as you please in any or all categories.

Q. If I am eligible to compete in the Junior category, may I also (or instead) compete in another category?

 

A. Yes, you may.

Q. May I team up with someone else to write an essay?
 

A. No. Each submitted essay must be entirely the work of a single individual.

Q. May I use AI, such as ChatGPT or the like, in writing my essay?

 

A. All essays will be checked for the use of AI. If we find that any content is generated by AI, your essay will be disqualified. We will also ask you, upon submission of your essay, whether you used AI for any purpose related to the writing of your essay, and if so, you will be required to provide details. In that case, if, in our judgement, you have not provided full and accurate details of your use of AI, your essay will be disqualified. 

 

Since any use of AI (that does not result in disqualification) can only negatively affect our assessment of your work relative to that of work that is done without using AI, your safest course of action is simply not to use it at all. If, however, you choose to use it for any purpose, we reserve the right to make relevant judgements on a case-by-case basis and we will not enter into any correspondence. 

Q. May I have someone else edit, or otherwise help me with, my essay?

 

A. You may of course discuss your essay with others, and it is perfectly acceptable for them to offer general advice and point out errors or weaknesses in your writing or content, leaving you to address them.

 

However, no part of your essay may be written by anyone else. This means that you must edit your own work and that while a proofreader may point out errors, you as the essayist must be the one to correct them. 

Q. Do I have to attend the awards ceremony to win a prize?

 

A. Nobody is required to attend the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to London. But if we invite you to London it is because your essay was good enough - in the opinion of the First Round judges - to be at least a contender for First, Second or Third Prize. Normally the Second Round judges will agree that the short-listed essays are worth at least a commendation.

Q. Is there an entry fee?

A. No. There is no charge to enter our global essay competition unless you submit your essay after the normal deadline, in which case there is a fee of 20.00 USD.

Q. Can I receive a certificate for my participation in your essay competition if I wasn't shortlisted? 

A. No. Certificates are awarded only for shortlisted essays. Short-listed contestants who attend the award ceremony in London will receive a paper certificate. If you cannot travel to London, you will be able to download your eCertificate.

Q. Can I receive feedback on my essay? 

A. We would love to be able to give individual feedback on essays but, unfortunately, we receive too many entries to be able to comment on particular essays.

Q. The deadline for publishing the names of short-listed essayists has passed but I did not receive an email to tell me whether I was short-listed.

A. Log into your account and check "Shortlist Status" for (each of) your essay(s).

Q. Why isn't the awards ceremony in Oxford this year?

A. Last year, many shortlisted finalists who applied to join our invitation-only academic conference missed the opportunity because of capacity constraints at Oxford's largest venues. This year, the conference will be held in central London and the gala awards dinner will take place in an iconic London ballroom. 

Q. The system will not accept my essay. I have checked the filename and it has the correct format. What should I do?
 

A. You have almost certainly added a space before or after one of your names in your profile. Edit it accordingly and try to submit again.

Q. The profile page shows my birth date to be wrong by a day, even after I edit it. What should I do?


A. Ignore it. The date that you typed has been correctly input to our database.

Q. How can I be sure that my registration for the essay competition was successful? Will I receive a confirmation email?


A. You will not receive a confirmation email. Rather, you can at any time log in to the account that you created and see that your registration details are present and correct.

FAQ

If you are unable to submit your essay to the John Locke Institute’s global essay competition, your problem is almost certainly one of the following.


If so, please proceed as indicated.


LOGGING IN


1) PROBLEM: I receive the ‘registrations are now closed’ message when I enter my email and verification code.
SOLUTION. You did not register for the essay competition and create your account. If you think you did, you probably only provided us with your email to receive updates from us about the competition or otherwise. You may not enter the competition this year.


2) PROBLEM I do not receive a login code after I enter my email to enter my account.
SOLUTION. Enter your email address again, checking that you do so correctly. If this fails, restart your browser using an incognito window; clear your cache, and try again. Wait for a few minutes for the code. If this still fails, restart your machine and try one more time. If this still fails, send an email to global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “No verification code – [your name]” in the subject line.


SUBMITTING AN ESSAY


3) PROBLEM: The filename of my essay is in the correct format but it is rejected.
SOLUTION: Use “Edit Profile” to check that you did not add a space before or after either of your names. If you did, delete it. Whether you did or did not, try again to submit your essay. If submission fails again, email global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “Filename format – [your name]” in the subject line.


4) PROBLEM: When trying to view my submitted essay, a .txt file is downloaded – not the .pdf file that I submitted.
SOLUTION: Delete the essay. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “File extension problem – [your name]” in the subject line.


5) PROBLEM: When I try to submit, the submission form just reloads without giving me an error message.
SOLUTION. Log out of your account. Open a new browser; clear the cache; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “Submission form problem – [your name]” in the subject line.


6) PROBLEM: I receive an “Unexpected Error” when trying to submit.
SOLUTION. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If this resubmission fails, email global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “Unexpected error – [your name]” in thesubject line. Your email must tell us e xactly where in the submission process you received this error.


7) PROBLEM: I have a problem with submitting and it is not addressed above on this list.
SOLUTION: Restart your machine. Clear your browser’s cache. Try to submit again. If this fails, email global.essay.prize@johnlocke.com with “Unlisted problem – [your name]” in the subject line. Your email must tell us exactly the nature of your problem with relevant screen caps.


READ THIS BEFORE YOU EMAIL US.


Do not email us before you have tried the specified solutions to your problem.


Do not email us more than once about a single problem. We will respond to your email within 72 hours. Only if you have not heard from us in that time may you contact us again to ask for an update.

If you email us regarding a problem, you must include relevant screen-shots and information on both your operating system and your browser. You must also declare that you have tried the solutions presented above and had a good connection to the internet when you did so.


If you have tried the relevant solution to your problem outlined above, have emailed us, and are still unable to submit before the 30 June deadline on account of any fault of the John Locke Institute or our systems, please do not worry: we will have a way to accept your essay in that case. However, if there is no fault on our side, we will not accept your essay if it is not submitted on time – whatever your reason: we will not make exceptions for IT issues for which we are not responsible.


We reserve the right to disqualify the entries of essayists who do not follow all provided
instructions, including those concerning technical matters.

TROUBLESHOOTING
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