External Competitions

There are a range of competitions available to enter across the UK and beyond for all age groups: this list is by no means exhaustive. Have a go: deepen your passion!

Minds Underground

A great range of interesting essay questions on topics such as Law, Politics, History, Sustainability & Economics, Medicine, Psychology, Philosophy, World Literature, Sciences and an Engineering Innovation Challenge.

Deadline: 30th April 2020
Further details here.

John Locke Essay Competition

Essay competition judged by Oxford university professors with the choice of 3 essays across 7 different subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.

Deadline: 15th July 2020
Further details here.

Libre Essay Competition

Taking inspiration from the admissions process at All Souls College, Oxford – known as ‘The hardest exam in the world’ – the Libra Essay Competition requires students to write an essay responding to one of the single-word essay titles below. Words below:

Land • Morality • Space • Eternity • Society

Deadline: June 2020
Further details here and here.

Dukes Education Essay


All subjects:
response to a one-word theme – competition for Year 11 (Fifth form) and LVI.

Deadline: June 2020
Further Details: here.

Royal Economics Society

Economics essay competition

Deadline: July 2020
Further Details: here.

English

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition – categories for under 14 years and 14–18 years.

Deadline: usually May
Further details here.

Geography

Royal Geographical Society Geographer of the Year – categories for 11–14, 14–16 and 16–18 years.

Deadline: usually October
Further details here.

Philosophy

The Sheffield Philosophy Essay Prize – competition for Years 10, 11 and 12 (Fourth and Fifth forms and LVI).

Deadline: 27th March 2020
Further details here.

Psychology

Philosophy competition in teams of 2-5 students.

Deadline: 1st July 2020
Further details here.

Cyber Discovery

HM Government’s Cyber Schools Programme. Code cracking and the development of software – competition for Year 10 to UVI.

Further details here.

Cyber First for Girls

GCHQ’s Cyber Competition for Girls. Developing the next generation of cyber professionals.

Further details here.

Teen Tech

Teen Tech. Identify a problem with a product and come up with a technological solution.

Further details here.

The Oxford Scientist

Answer a short (700 word) science question.

Deadline: Regularly throughout the year.
Further details here.

Science Challenge

Various essays and video prizes with a theme of AI and natural sciences from Imperial college. Open to 4th, 5th and 6th form.

Deadline: TBC
Further details here.

Independent Schools Association Essay

Creative English essay for 3rd-5th Form. Open essay competition where student can choose the question. Judged in three categories: 1-English and Linguistics 2- Science, IT and Technology 3- Arts and Humanities subjects, including Languages. (Please note essays must be in English).

Deadline: 30th April 2020
Further details here.

University & Sixth Form Essay Competitions

University essay competitions are aimed at Sixth-form students.

Essay competitions are an important means by which you can expand your knowledge and hone your learning. If you are applying for a particular subject at university, undertaking an essay competition is a good way to deepen your understanding of a field. If you are applying to Oxbridge, essay competitions are essential. The majority of essay competitions are indeed run by Oxbridge colleges, although other universities are following suit, so do give one a go!

Don’t forget to talk to the subject specialists in your department who will be able to offer advice on reading. Moreover there are often limits on the number of essays the College can submit for individual competitions—especially in the case of Oxbridge colleges—so make sure that you consult your department in advance.

Photo: Katie Cook and Lord Walker at the Trinity Law Essay Prize Competition, 2015, in which Katie achieved joint second place.

New College of Humanities

Various essay competitions in History of Art, Economics, English, History, Law, Philosophy, Politics and International Relations.

Deadline: January 2020
Further details here.

Oxbridge College Competitions

Oxford Medical School Gazette: Medicine

Deadline: January
Further details here.

St Hugh’s College, Oxford

Reception of Classical Antiquity (English? Philosophy) for those not doing Latin or Greek A level/IB (Mary Renault Prize)

Deadline: February
Further details here.

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Classic essays competition

Deadline: TBA
Further details here.

St John’s College, Oxford

Classics and Ancient History

Deadline: February
Further details here

Christ Church, Oxford

Poetry

Deadline: February
Further details here.

Girton College, Cambridge

Humanities (particularly Arch & Anth/HSPS)

Deadline: March
Further details here.

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Classics and Ancient History, Land Economy (highly suitable for geographers and economists)

Deadline: March
Further details here.

Peterhouse, Cambridge

History (including Ancient History), Science, English

Deadline: March
Further details here.

Faculty of Modern Languages, Oxford

French Film Essay

Deadline: March
Further details here.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Legal Reasoning for Aspiring Lawyer

Deadline: TBA
Further details here.

Keble College, Oxford

Titles yet to be released

Deadline: TBA
Further details here.

St Hugh’s College, Oxford

Julia Woods history essay

Deadline: July
Further details here.

Oriel College, Oxford

Philosophy (announced April)

Further details here.

Trinity College, Cambridge

Theology, Philosophy, History, Politics, Law, Geography, English (titles published February)

Deadline: Variable
Further details here.

St Peter’s College, Oxford

Philosophy

Deadline: September
Further details here.

Oxford—Princeton John Locke Institute

Politics, Philosophy, Economics, History

Further details here.

Newnham College, Cambridge (Girls)

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering

Further details here.

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Peterhouse’s Vellacott History Prize, Kelvin Science Prize and Thomas Campion English Prize.

Deadline:  April 2020
Further details here.

Robinson College, Cambridge

Various questions which can be discussed with reference to any academic discipline

Further details here.

St Peter’s College, Oxford

Philosophy (announced April)

Further details here.