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Essay Prize

Essay Prize

The 2023 Essay Prize will not run in 2023. Our apologies for any disappointment caused.


Please see below for further details, and note that we can only accept submissions from students at a school in the UK due to the capacity limits of our judging Fellows.

The Robinson College Essay Prize is open to all students in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent; or Year 13 students who will be taking a Gap Year) at a school in the UK during the 2021-22 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 (excluding 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.

A useful website with style and structure information for bibliographies and references can be found via the University's Faculty of History here (in particular, Section D and E).

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 17 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 midnight on Sunday 31st July 2022. 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. Please do not include your name in your essay; only on your cover sheet.

Any queries about the 2022 Essay Prize can be directed to


Essay Prize Submission Form 2022

Essay Prize General Information 2022

Essay Prize General Cover Letter 2022


Essay Questions 2022:

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

1. 'Law and morality should never collide'. Discuss.

2. A character in a novel written by an African American woman in 1892 makes the following claim:

"Miss Leroy, out of the race must come its own thinkers and writers. Authors belonging to the white race have written good books, for which I am deeply grateful, but it seems to be almost impossible for a white man to put himself completely in our place. No man can feel the iron which enters another man's soul." (From Iola Leroy by Francis Harper)

Black feminist writer Patricia Hill Collins describes the above as a "belief in a special vision of those who have experienced oppression". Discuss this belief with reference to at least one book, play, or poem written by an author of colour.

3. Can science tell us how we should live?

4. In the twenty-first century, what is monarchy for?

5. "A good translation is like a pane of glass. It should never call attention to itself." (Norman R. Shapiro). Discuss.