Essay Prize 2021

The Robinson College Essay Prize 2021 has now closed. Entrants will be alerted by Monday 6 September if they have been selected as a winner or runner-up, with the prize-winners' lunch held on Saturday 18 September. Please note that due to the volume of submissions, we can only provide feedback for winning and commended entries.

 

The Robinson College Essay Prize is open to all students in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent) at a UK School during the 2020-21 academic year. It is designed to give students the opportunity to develop and showcase their independent study and writing skills. By creating the opportunity for students to experience the type of work that they might be expected to do at Cambridge, we hope to encourage inquisitive and industrious students from all backgrounds to apply to the university – and hopefully to Robinson College.

We welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions below, which should be no longer than 2,000 words (including footnotes and captions).  The questions may be discussed with reference to any academic discipline or area of interest. All sources must be appropriately acknowledged and cited, and a bibliography (including websites consulted) should be attached, although this is excluded from the word count. Up to three entries may be submitted per school, so please discuss your application with your school prior to entry.

There are many angles from which to approach the questions and we encourage applicants to ‘think outside the box’ and answer through the lens of a field or subject that greatly interests you.  Good essays will present a clear and concise argument using specific examples, but beyond this there is scope to interrogate the questions in any way you please.

Five prizes will be awarded to question winners, with each receiving book tokens to the value of £50. Further essays will be commended for their high quality. Winning entrants will be invited to the College for a prize-giving ceremony and celebratory lunch with fellows and Directors of Studies at the College, to take place on Saturday 18 September. Please note that the College reserves the right to cancel this should COVID-19 guidance make an in-person event unfeasible.

The deadline for submission of essays is 5pm on Friday 13th August 2021. All entries should be sent via the online submission form below where you will be asked to upload a PDF/word document of your essay and your completed cover sheet. Entries will not be valid without this information.

Any queries about the 2021 Essay Prize can be directed to slo@robinson.cam.ac.uk.

 

Essay Prize Submission Form 2021

Essay Prize General Information 2021

Essay Prize General Cover Letter 2021

 

Essay Questions 2021:

Discuss, with reference to any academic discipline, any area of interest raised by one of the following quotations/questions:

1. "A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury." (JS Mill). Do you agree?

2. 'Creativity should be the highest goal of education.' Discuss.

3. "In policy making, there is no such thing as 'the data', and therefore no such thing as 'acting on the data'." Do you agree?

4. "The translated text must add up to the original... [translation] is like a problem in math—using different numbers, the answer must be the same, different numbers must add up to the same answer." (Lydia Davis). Discuss.

5. Watch this video featuring the poet Kamau Braithwaite and discuss the significance of 'archives of freedom'.