The Philosophy Essay Prize is open to Year 12 or Lower 6th students. The aim of the Prize is to encourage able sixth formers to pursue their interest in Philosophy, with the hope that they will be encouraged to read this or related subjects at University.

The 2023 competition has closed.

You should answer one question only.  The deadline for entries is 11.59 pm UK time on Wednesday 31 May 2023.

Candidates are invited to submit an essay of up to 2,000 words.  Entries must be submitted online by the end of May using the form below. 

The competition carries a First Prize of £600 and a Second Prize of £400, to be split equally between the candidate and his or her school or college; the school or college’s portion of the prize to be issued in the form of book tokens.

All candidates will be notified with the results of the competition around the end of August.  Any queries should be directed to the Admissions Administrator, Ms Stacey Smith, at [email protected] .

Sorry. This form is no longer available.

Past Prize-winners

1st Prize: Anjali Reddy (Wimbledon High School) Joint 2nd Prize: John Paul Cheng (Winchester College); Dimitrije Golubovic (Gimnazija “Bora Stankovic”, Serbia)

1st Prize: Ms Isabel Rumfitt (James Allen’s Girls’ School) 2nd Prize: Sam Wolffe (University College School)

1st Prize: Mr Fucheng Warren Zhu (Harrow International School, Hong Kong) 2nd Prize: Mr Jacob Tidmarsh (Home-schooled)

1st Prize: Catherine Brewer (Sharnbrook Sixth Form) 2nd Prize: David Levy (JFS)

1st Prize: Dilara Smyth (The Abbey School, Reading) 2nd Prize: Dalir Kosimov (Harris Westminster Sixth Form)

1st Prize: Nicole Souter (The King Edward VI School) 2nd Prize: Jack Chong (Wellington College)

1st Prize: Omodunni Bello (Sherborne School for Girls) 2nd Prize: Max Johnston (Uppingham School)

1st Prize: Conor O’Shea (Harrow School) 2nd Prize: Lila Mendoza (Sevenoaks School)

1st Prize: Harry Lloyd (Monmouth Comprehensive School) 2nd Prize: Kartik Prabhu (Westminster School)

1st Prize: Christopher Banks (King’s College School, Wimbledon) 2nd Prize: Eleanor Holton (The Stephen Perse Foundation Sixth Form, Cambridge)

1st Prize: Jeremy Khoo (Raffles Institution, Singapore) Joint 2nd Prize: Phoebe Bright (St Paul’s Girls’ School) Joint 2nd Prize: Rory Turnbull (Hereford Cathedral School)

1st Prize: Keith Wynroe (De La Salle College, Macroom) 2nd Prize: Nina Maras (Latymer Upper School)

1st Prize: Kacper Kowalczyk (Dulwich College) 2nd Prize: Alice Carter (Canford School)

1st Prize: Ding Hui (Raffles Institution) 2nd Prize: Timothy Wickenden (The Sixth Form College, Farnborough)

1st Prize: Rosie Illingworth (Oundle School) 2nd Prize: Joshua Brown (University College School)

1st Prize: Annie Hawes (Henrietta Barnett School) 2nd Prize: Robert Dixon (Oundle School)

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CEU Philosophy Undergraduate Essay Competition

philosophy essay competition 2021

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2nd CEU  Philosophy   Undergraduate   Essay   Competition

December 10, 2021.

It was a great pleasure meeting you all! Many thanks to all who helped us in doing it once again. The winners have been announced!  

About the 2021 CEU Philosophy Undergraduate Essay C ompetition  

The Philosophy Department at Central Eu ropean University invites students to its second Undergraduate Essay C ompetition , a timed essay-writing event on the 1 0 th of December 202 1 from 3 pm – 5:30pm CET . See registration link below.  See program here . 

  • P articipa tion is open for all undergraduates . Students who have be en already in a n MA program cannot participate.
  • The essay event will be held in a form of a 90-minute-long invigilated online writing session .  
  • At the beginning of the essay event, participants will be given a selection of a few essay prompts , i.e., short quotations from philosophical works putting forth a thought-provoking idea . The topic s will reflect some of the main areas of philosophy that our faculty specializes i n .
  • Students must choose one prompt , identify a philosophical problem implicit in it, and write an essay explaining their coherent and well-argued position on the issue . The upper word limit for the essays is 1000 words (+/- 10% ) . Familiarity with the context of the quotation is not a requirement , instead, emphasis will be put on how well the student understood the problem at hand, as well as the clarity of thoug ht and persuasiveness of the argument manifested by the essay.
  • Submissions will be reviewed and judged anonymously by members of our department .  

Gold , Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded for the most successful essays . I n case the recipients then successfully apply to CEU Philosophy Department’s MA program s , the medals are accompanied by grants in the first year of studying at CEU in the following way:  

  • Gold medal: one-time grant of 300 EUR .
  • Silver medal: one-time grant of 200 EUR .
  • Bronze medal: one-time grant of 100 EUR .

Technical and data provision requirements : As the event is organized online, participants must have stable internet connection during the whole time of the competition and using a device with full audio and video connecting possibilities. If you participate, we will have to ask you to record your screen during the 90 min utes of writing, to secure fairness of competition. All personal data from non-recipients as well as all recordings will be deleted after we assessed the submissions.   

To prepare students for the competition, we will hold an essay writing workshop on the 3 rd of December 2021 , from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m . CEU students can join offline in the Auditorium, external students can join via Zoom . Registration for the workshop is open for those who register to the competition. During the essay writing workshop, we will look at sample essays to discuss how to analyze essay prompts, how to structure your essay and how to construct your own argument.   

Registering is necessary , free of charge, latest by the 1 st of December , 48 hours before the workshop. Cal l will be closed once the threshold of 100 participants has been reached. Those who register will receive a Zoom link to the competition and the workshop in a confirmation email . Get in touch with us if you did not receive the link (check your spam folder first).  

Update (Dec 09, 6pm, CET): Registration still closed. Come back next year in November when we plan to do it all again!

Update: Nov 23 (6pm, CET): Registration now closed. We reached the threshold of 100 participants. Should we reopen the registration (if people drop out), we will do that here, at the latest 24 hour before the latest registration cut-off date (Dec 01, 3pm). 

Feedback from participants

“ I really enjoyed the whole thing, even more than I believed I was going to. Especially hanging out in the online cafe space afterwards – it was great to chat to fellow philosophy students from around the world and the rest of Europe. Thank you so much! I'll really promote it at my u niversity for future years. ”  

“ It was a great event because of the personal kindness of the organizers. They helped us in all things they could. A great thanks and congrats for the organization. ”  

“ The competition was challenging and enjoyable. Thank you very much for organizing it, and please do more competitions or events like this. ”

Feedback from student graders  

“ It was a super helpful experience as I got to know what things I need to focus on in my own essays. I realised how difficult it actually is to maintain a good balance of being charitable and also being critical at the same time. It was certainly enjoyable! Looking forward more such opportunities in the future :)) ”  

“ I really had fun reading the essays. Also, participating in the grading workshop made me realize what the criteria for a good paper are, which can help me a lot in the future. ”  

“ Among many other virtues of the PUEC grading, discussing essays together on the spatial chat stands out. Particularly, evaluating the texts with another grader with more experience helped to understand which parts of texts deserve attention and which do not; when it is relevant to be picky about the concepts and when one should focus on the main idea the author attempts to convey. Apart from that, it brings a lot of pleasure whilst your points of view match and thus complement each other with additional details, noticed weak spots, etc. ”  

Feedback from faculty  

"It was refreshing and encouraging to read so interesting and vastly different takes on the prompts of our essay competition." István Bodnár    

  "I was quite impressed with the quality of some of the essays and enjoyed hearing my colleagues' perspectives on them." Asya Passinsky    

  "I was impressed by the independence of thinking evident in the essays and the many valuable insights and connections made." David Weberman  

Email: [email protected]    

(Poster by: Nóvé Soma; Picture by:  drobotdean - )

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Essay Prize Winners Announced

We are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s Philosophy Essay Prize.

Study with us | Schools liaison | What we do | Events and prizes | Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize

The Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize for Year 12 students

Developing independent study.

The purpose of the Prize is:

  • To give students in Year 12 (or equivalent) who are considering applying to university an opportunity to write about a subject they are interested in. This should enable them to develop their abilities for independent research and thought in Philosophy.
  • To support teachers of able pupils by providing interesting and challenging further work in Philosophy and by bringing their students into contact with Higher Education.
  • To encourage able students to consider applying to study Philosophy, either at Oxford or at another university, by giving them some experience of the type of work involved.
  • To recognise the achievement and effort of the best of those who apply through prizes and commendations. Note: the judges are not able to provide feedback on any essays.

Assessment Criteria

Entrants should be in Year 12 (or equivalent) at their school or college. The judges will look for:

  • Originality of thought
  • An accurate understanding of the issues
  • Clarity of structure and expression
  • And a critical approach to what has been read

General Guidelines

  • Essays should be no more than 2,500 words in length and should be on one of the topics listed below. Essays should be word processed and submitted by email in either Word or PDF format to  [email protected] .
  • A font size of 12pt or greater should be used, and the page margins should be set to no less than 1 inch.
  • Entries must be sent with a completed entry form, which is available to download below.
  • Please include a bibliography (note: this does not count towards the word limit).

How to Apply

The 2022 Lloyd Davies Competition is now closed for entries.

Check here again soon for information on how to enter the 2023 competition.

Previous Essay Questions

Those who entered the 2022 essay competition answered the following questions:

1. ‘If I know that something is true, I know that any evidence against it is misleading. So I am justified in never questioning my knowledge, even when I come across evidence against it.’ Discuss.

2. Is mathematics similar to morality?

3. Is the distinction between past and future fundamental?

2022 Competition Result

The winner of the 2022 Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize was Emily Tan.

  • Emily Tan ‘s essay was on the question “Is Mathematics Similar to Morality?”

One essay was chosen as the close runner-up

  • Jem Perry ‘s essay on the question “Is Mathematics Similar to Morality?”

The assessors wish to commend the essays written by:

  • Ilea Dehghan on the question “Is Mathematics Similar to Morality?”
  • Lloyd Doré-Green on the question “If I know that something is true, I know that any evidence against it is misleading. So I am justified in never questioning my knowledge, even when I come across evidence against it.’ Discuss”
  • Andrew McKimm on the question “Is the distinction between past and future fundamental?”
  • Amelie Zhang on the question “Is the distinction between past and future fundamental?”

2021 Competition Result

In 2021 we received close to 100 entries from students from all over the world. One essay was chosen as the winner:

  • Bo Cresser ‘s (Kingsdale Foundation School, London) essay on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”
  • Sirui Cai ‘s (Raffles, Singapore) essay on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”

The standard of entries was extremely high. The assessors wish to single out for special mention the essays by:

  • Amia Guha (Westminster School, Oxford), on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”
  • Nicholson Kanefield (Boulder High School, Colorado) on the question “Do you know that you are not dreaming right now? If so, how? If not, does it matter?”
  • Pongsapak Waiwitlikhit (Shrewsbury International School Riverside, Bangkok) on the question “Should we rethink the nature and limits of freedom of speech in the internet age?”
  • Oliver Weiner (Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School) on the question “Do you know that you are not dreaming right now? If so, how? If not, does it matter?”

The essays by

  • William Dewhurst (Downside School, Radstock)
  • Cecilia, Forsyth (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London)
  • Maya Grunschlag (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London)
  • Jiay Lin (Cardiff Sixth Form College)
  • Lucy Richardson (Cranford House School, Wallingford)
  • Haley Son (Seoul Foreign School)
  • Nathan Steward (Marling School, Stroud)
  • Martha Vine (Godolphin and Latymer School, London)

were also highly commended.

2020 Competition Result

In 2020, two essays were chosen as joint winners:

  • Kunal Barman ‘s (St Edward’s School) essay on the question: “should vaccines be compulsory?”
  • Elliott Bonal ‘s (Ecole Diagonale, France) essay answering the question: “Is it rational to believe in the existence of viruses but not to believe in the existence of dark matter?”

The general standard of entries was high. The assessors singled out for special mention the essays by

  • Bruce, Edward (Ralph Allen School)
  • Walsh, Oliver (Royal Grammar School)
  • Orkeny, Bence (ELTE, Radnoti Miknlos Gyakorlo Altalanos Iskola es Gyakorlo Gimnazium, Hungary)
  • Yang, Joanne (Seoul International School)
  • Pang, Gabriel (Comberton Sixth Form)
  • O’ Gorman, Tom (Brighton College)
  • Goel, Abhay (Westminster School)
  • Frasheri, Allan (Largo High School)

further information

Rex nettleford essay competition, schools liaison and outreach, our outreach work.

Baltic Sea Philosophy Essay Event

Winning essays bronze (3), winning essays silver (3), winning essays gold (3), bspee 2022 results, invitation 2022, winning essays silver (5), winning essays gold (2), bspee 2021 results.

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The Aristotle: A high school philosophy essay contest

High school students, listen up—the 2023 Aristotle Contest is now open for submissions! Pick one of three essay prompts and showcase your skills of philosophical argumentation and clear writing for one of three cash prizes! The submission deadline has been extended to July 28, 2023.  

What Is the Aristotle Contest?

In collaboration with the  Ontario Philosophy Teachers’ Association , the department administers the annual Aristotle Contest, awarding cash prizes for the finest philosophical work by current Canadian high school students. The contest provides high school students interested in philosophy with an opportunity to have their work evaluated and recognized by the largest post-secondary Department of Philosophy in North America.


Instructions, previous winners, frequently asked questions, contest sponsors, printable poster.

Anyone enrolled in a Canadian high school at or below the grade 12 level (or equivalent) may participate in the Aristotle Contest. Home-schooled students working at or below the grade 12 level may also participate.

Submissions in both English and French are welcome.

Three questions are posted for this year’s contest; contestants must choose only one. The questions for the 2023 contest were:

  • Most of us would agree that it is unjust to treat people differently based on physical appearance, but almost no one follows that egalitarian principle when it comes to dating. Is it unjust to allow physical appearance to affect one’s dating decisions? Defend your answer.
  • We live in an age of driverless cars, drone warfare, and AI-assisted medical diagnosis. In situations like these, should we allow computer algorithms to go ahead and make life-or-death decisions on their own, without further input from human beings?  Defend your answer.
  • Is it morally permissible to enjoy and appreciate art by artists whose lives were (or are) seriously morally flawed? Defend your decision.

Contestants will write an essay of 1200-1500 words that develops and defends a position taken in response to the chosen question. Essays must be submitted electronically as a Word document (not PDF) in 12-point font, double-spaced and, if using quotations or ideas from the readings or other sources, with complete referencing. Essays proper should be prepared for blind review, that is, they should not bear the author’s name or any other mark identifying them.

Contestants are not required, encouraged, or expected to do any reading or research beyond reading the chosen question. If contestants choose to use ideas from other sources they will not be penalized for doing so, provided the sources are properly identified. The top ten entries will undergo a plagiarism check.

For a variety of resources on writing in philosophy, visit our Advice on Writing in Philosophy page. For a detailed guide on how to compile, organize, and express your thoughts for the essay in this contest, see the Aristotle Contest Guide to Writing a Philosophy Essay  (PDF).

Essays will be judged according to several criteria, including the quality, depth, and originality of thought; the organization of ideas; and clarity of expression.

View the Aristotle Contest Evaluation Scheme (PDF).

Author names and school affiliations of contestants are redacted so that they remain anonymous to evaluators. In the first round of evaluation, each paper is marked twice: once by a high school teacher and once by a university-affiliated evaluator (a faculty member in U of T’s Department of Philosophy).

A list of ten finalists is then drawn from papers that were ranked highest by both sets of judges. Evaluators then come to a consensus on the contest winners and recipients of certificates of distinction.

Contest winners will be announced October 2023.

To be eligible, each submission must be emailed as an attached Word document (not PDF) along with a completed contest form (PDF). You can either fill in the PDF electronically using an online PDF-filling tool like PDFescape (electronic signatures are acceptable), or you can print the form, fill it out on paper, and scan and attach it to your entry. Entries  must be emailed; printed entries sent by regular mail will not be accepted. Essays that have been submitted to other venues will also not receive consideration.

Submission emails must be dated Friday, July 28, 2023, or earlier. Late entries will not be accepted. All submissions must be emailed as attachments with the subject line “Aristotle Contest entry” to:

Petra Dreiser , Communications Officer, Department of Philosophy ([email protected] )

First place: $500 Second place: $400 Third place: $300

Up to ten submissions will receive an honourable mention.

Take a look at the winning entries from last year (2022). Prizes were awarded to:

  • First place: Aarah Shahjahan, Marc Ganeau Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario: “In Times of Crisis: When Safety Precedes Liberty”  (PDF)
  • Second place: William Wang, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, Ontario: “The Universal Immorality of Perjury”  (PDF)
  • Third place: Natalie Oulikhanian, Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario: “Redefining Our Liberties: A Communal Approach to Vaccine Mandates”  (PDF)

The following essay received an honourable mention:

  • Max Long, Richmond Secondary School, Richmond, British Columbia: “ When It’s OK to Lie: The Case of Ethical Perjury” (PDF)

In 2021, prizes went to:

  • First place: Alissa Li, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, Ontario: “Beyond Borders: A Global Vaccine Solution” (PDF)
  • Second place: Maisy Elspeth, Leaside High School, East York, Ontario: “Veganism as Moral Imperative” (PDF)
  • Third place: Wilson Li, William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute, North York, Ontario: “Rationality of an Open Mind” (PDF)

The following essays received honourable mentions in 2021:

  • Sarah Youssef, Port Moody Secondary School, Port Moody, British Columbia: “A Case against Cruelty” (PDF)
  • Jessica Oh, St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, Thornhill, Ontario: “Money Should Not Factor in Vaccine Distribution” (PDF)

In 2020, prizes went to:

  • First place: Darwin Pitts, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ottawa, Ontario: “ In Defence of Legitimate Democratic Authority ” (PDF)
  • Second place: Justin Liu, St. George’s School, Vancouver, British Columbia: “ A Defense of Privacy in the Digital Age ” (PDF)
  • Third place:  Andrei Li, Monarch Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario: “ On the ‘Good Life’ and Perpetuation of the ‘Self’ ” (PDF)

The following three essays received honourable mentions in 2020:

  • Ariel Wang, Port Moody Secondary School, Port Moody, British Columbia: “ On the Fantasy of a Good Life “  (PDF)
  • Ryangwon Kim, Brentwood College School, Mill Bay, British Columbia: “ A Case against Anarchy ” (PDF)
  • Zeeniya Waseem, Turner Fenton Secondary School, Brampton, Ontario: “ Inner Contentment and Fulfillment within a Good Life ” (PDF)

In 2019, prizes were awarded to:

  • First place: Elizabeth Zhu, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, Ontario: “Reality Is a Shared Hallucination” (PDF)
  • Second place: Ayush Ranjan, The Woodlands School, Mississauga, Ontario: “On the Subjectivity of Reality and the Benefits of a Simulated World” (PDF)
  • Third place:  Ritvik Singh, Academy for Gifted Children–P.A.C.E., Richmond Hill, Ontario: “A Treatise on Creative Artificial Intelligence” (PDF)

The following three essays from 2019 received honourable mentions:

  • Sameer Bapat, A. Y. Jackson Secondary School, North York, Ontario: “The Creative Capacity of Artificially Intelligent Machines” (PDF)
  • Kacper Mykietyn, St. Martin Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario: “Distribution of Genetic Resources and Its Consequences” (PDF)
  • Keyer Thyme, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, North York, Ontario: “In Defence of the Simulation” (PDF)

Read more about the successful 2019 contestants .

In 2018, prizes were awarded to:

  • First place:  Eric Fishback, Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, Guelph, Ontario: “The Universal Objective Truths of Aesthetics” (PDF)
  • Second place:  Abdullah Farooq, Streetsville Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario: “An Essay on the Importance of Cognition in Aesthetic Judgements” (PDF)
  • Third place:  Donald Lv, Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ontario: “Should AI Be Granted Rights” (PDF)

The following four essays from 2018 received honourable mentions:

  • Emily Tu, Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario: “Inimitable Human Intelligence and the Truth on Morality” (PDF)
  • Woojin Lim, Fraser Heights Secondary School, Surrey, British Columbia: “The Future of Smart Machines: Intelligence, Morality, and Rights” (PDF)
  • Adam Aziz, The Academy for Gifted Children P.A.C.E., Richmond Hill, Ontario: “Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Intelligence” (PDF)
  • Samuel Chan, Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ontario: “The Humanity in Machines” (PDF)

How much of my essay can include quotes from other sources?

Any quotations will be considered part of the word count. You may use as many quotations as you wish, keeping in mind that the more you use, the less space you will have for developing your own thoughts. Quotations must, of course, be properly referenced.

If my essay is slightly over the 1500 word count limit, will it still be accepted?

No, any paper over the 1500 word count limit will not be accepted. In order to be fair and avoid questions regarding leeway, this rule will be strictly followed.

May I submit my essay physically, by regular mail or in-person at the department?

No. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

Is CEGEP equivalent to high school grade 12?

For this contest, the first year of CEGEP is equivalent to high school grade 12. Anyone enrolled in the second year of CEGEP is not eligible to participate.

I home-school my child, but the contest form seems designed for teachers .  Is there another form that I should use?

No need to use another form. Use the contest form (PDF) and in place of the school address and phone number, put your home address and phone number.
  • The Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, St. George campus
  • Ontario Philosophy Teachers’ Association

View, share, download, and print the contest poster .

philosophy essay competition 2021

  • Department of Philosophy
  • Events and activities

Philosophy Essay Competition 2023

We are delighted to announce the annual University of Sheffield Philosophy Essay Competition for Year 10, Year 11 and Year 12 students in the UK is now open.

A group of Philosophy students sat in a lecture hall. One student is writing in a notebook. One student is working on a laptop.

PLEASE NOTE: The 2023 Competition has now closed, but will re-open in 2024.  Please see below for more information about the competition. Contact [email protected]  if you have any questions.

About the competition

The Sheffield Philosophy Essay Competition is open now and closes on Wednesday 12 April at 5pm . Students in Years 10, 11, and 12 in the UK are invited to submit an essay on one of the topics below.  Only one essay per student is permitted.

The authors of the ten best entries will each receive a prize of a £25 voucher and an invitation to take part in a special virtual workshop organised by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, involving academics and current students from the department. The workshop will be held on Wednesday 24 May 2023.

The entries will be read and judged by a panel of experts from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. 

How to enter

The competition is open to students in years 10, 11 and 12 in the UK. Please write an essay of around 1,000 words (but not more than 1,500 words) on one of the following topics. Include a bibliography. Essays should be the original work of individual students. Please save your essay as a Word or PDF document and include your full name on the document and in the file name, for example: JOE SMITH - PHILOSOPHY ESSAY 2022.

To submit your entry, you must complete this form. The form includes a Dropbox link that will allow you to upload your translation. You must complete the entry form AND upload your entry using the Dropbox link.  Failure to do so may mean that your entry cannot be considered.  Please only complete the entry form when you are ready to upload your entry at the same time.

You must submit your entry before 5pm on Wednesday 12 April 2023 .

Winners will be notified by Tuesday 2 May 2023.

Philosophy essay competition questions 2023

You may submit an essay answering any one of the questions below. To help start you off, we have suggested a resource for each question. You do not have to write about each resource, these are just places for you to begin to explore each topic. If you wish, you may also choose your own question to write your essay - you can write about any philosophical issue you find interesting. Whatever question you choose to answer, make sure to include it at the top of your essay.

  • Is religion important for a good life? Discuss your view using one particular religion or a non-theistic worldview as an example.
  • Can we justify keeping non-human animals as pets? Suggested resource:
  • What is work? Suggested resource:
  • One way we can make the world a better place is to make the people who already exist on earth happier. Do we also make the world a better place by creating new people who will be (at least slightly) happy? Suggested resource:

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] .

Related information

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.

philosophy essay competition 2021


2023 global essay competition.

Congratulations to all the candidates short-listed for the 2023 Global Essay Prize! 

We have now emailed all shortlisted contestants an invitation for the academic conference and awards ceremony and gala reception. Please check your inbox (and your spam folder) in both the email accounts you used to register for the competition.

Prize-winners will be announced at our Awards Ceremony at the University of Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre on Saturday afternoon, 16 September. 

Please note: with over 19,000 registered candidates, regrettably we are unable to enter into individual correspondence. If you were unsuccessful this year, we hope you will try again in 2024. 

T he 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. The judges will choose their favourite essay from each of seven subject categories, and a junior category for under 15s, and then select an overall 'best essay' across the seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.

Q1. A team of scientists wants to discover how many genders there are. How should they proceed?

Q2. In what sense are you the same person today that you were when you were ten?

Q3. Is tax theft? 


Q1. Do the results of elections express the will of the people?

Q2. If China becomes the leading superpower, what would that mean for the people who live there? What would it mean for everyone else?

Q3. What might account for the different levels of political corruption in your own country and your country's nearest neighbour?

Q1. A government funds its own expenditure by taxing its population. Suppose, instead, it relied solely on money newly created by the central bank? What would be the advantages and/or disadvantages?   

Q2. In his thought experiment, the Iowa Car Crop, David Friedman tries to show that growing wheat is, in an important sense, just another 'technology' we can use for manufacturing cars, and in some circumstances a much more efficient one.

If international trade is thus a way of using less valuable inputs to produce more valuable outputs, why would governments impose trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas, thereby forcing producers to be more wasteful and less efficient?

Q3. What would happen if we banned billionaires?


Q1. How much richer or poorer are the British today than they would have been without the effects of British colonialism? 

Q2. Which has a bigger effect on history: the plans of the powerful or their mistakes?

Q3. Which characteristics distinguish successful movements for social change from unsuccessful ones?

Q1. Can happiness be measured?

Q2. In surveys conducted in the United States, significantly more than half the respondents reported that they believed themselves to be more attractive than the median person in their country. How might we account for this?

Q3. Are beliefs voluntary?


Q1. What distinguishes a small religion from a large cult?

Q2. If you cannot persuade your intelligent, sympathetic friends to embrace your religious belief system, do you have enough reason to believe what you believe? 

Q3. What was God doing before He created the cosmos?

Q1. Would justice be better served in the United States if more Supreme Court judges were women? 

Q2. Suppose that you were contemplating, in violation of the rules of this competition, submitting an essay written for you by artificial intelligence. What would be the difference between such an act and ordinary attempted theft?

Q3. Are there too many laws?


JUNIOR prize

Q1. Is safety more important than fun?

Q2.  If you had $10 billion to spend on making the world better, how would you spend it?

Q3. What, if anything, do your parents owe you?

Q4. What is something important, about which nearly everybody is wrong?

Q5. Why is John Locke sometimes called the father of liberalism?


Our entry requirements and submission system have changed substantially.

Please read the following carefully.

Entry to the John Locke Institute Essay Competition 2023 is open to students from any country.


Only candidates who registered before the registration deadline of 31 May 2023 may enter this year's competition.

All entries must be submitted by 11.59 pm BST on  the submission deadline: Friday, 30 June 2023 .  Candidates 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:


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 this referee to verify that the submitted essay is indeed the original work of the candidate.

Submissions may be made as soon as registration opens in April. We recommend that you submit your essay well in advance of th e deadline to avoid any last-minute complications and to ensure that you can submit your essay for free.

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 10 July 2023.

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.

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.

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 31 July . They will also be invited to Oxford 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 n obody is required to attend either the academic conference or the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to Oxford.

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

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 Oxford, 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, subject to capacity constraints.

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 gap year courses.

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

R egistration opens: 1 April, 2023.

Registration deadline: 31 May, 2023. ( Registration is required by this date for subsequent submission.)

Submission deadline: 30 June, 2023.

Late entry deadline: 10 July, 2023. (Late entries are subject to a 20.00 USD charge, payable by 1 July.)

Notification of short-listed essayists: 31 July, 2023.

Academic conference & awards dinners: 16 September, 2023.

Any queries regarding the essay competition should be sent to [email protected] . Please be aware that, due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to answer every query. In particular, questions whose answers can be found on our website will be ignored.

If you would like to receive, from time to time, content from our examiners about what makes for a winning essay or updates about the 2023 essay competition, please provide your email here to be added to our contact list. .

Thanks for subscribing!


"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 competition of its kind. 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

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 this year. 

Q. Are footnote s, 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 foo tnotes 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 ackn owledge any other authors on whom you rely.​

Q. I submitted my essay before the rule about footnotes was changed. I've used footnotes so my essay does not comply with the prohibition of their use. What should I do?

A. Nothing. You will not be penalized in any way. As long as you followed the rules as they were when you submitted your essay, your essay has been accepted and is being considered like any other.  

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 2023 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 2023 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 Oxford. But if we invite you to Oxford 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 Oxford will receive a paper certificate. If you cannot travel to Oxford, you will be able to download your eCertificate.

Q. Can I receive feedba ck 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. 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.


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.

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 [email protected] with “No verification code – [your name]” in the subject line.


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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] with “Unlisted problem – [your name]” in the subject line. Your email must tell us exactly the nature of your problem with relevant screen caps.


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.

Philosophy Today

Philosophy Today

A platform for Ideas, Wisdom and Thinking || India's first Philosophy Magazine

2nd Philosophy Today Essay Competition-2021

About the competition:.

With an objective to enhance the writing talents of young budding philosophers, Philosophy Today come up with the 2nd Essay Writing Competition 2021.

Any topic related to Philosophy

Detailed Instructions : Watch Following Video

Awards For Everyone

Cash prizes for winners and runner-ups in four age groups.

  • 1 st  Prize- 1000 INR  (Total 4)
  • Runner up- 500 INR (Total 4)
  • Top 5 Participants in each age group will get complementary books (Total 20)
  • All participants will be provided certificates
  • Selected Essays will be published in blog/magazine


  • Only original articles must be submitted.
  • Plagiarism would lead to disqualification.
  • The essay should be written in English or Hindi
  • Below 20 Years
  • 20-25 Years
  • 25-30 Years
  • Above 30 Years

Formatting Guidelines

  • Submissions should be made in .doc or .docx (MS Word) format only.
  • Word Limit- Maximum 2000 words (including footnotes)
  • Accompanied by an abstract (150 words)
  • All references should be made as footnotes and in APA format

Important Dates

  • March 15, 2021 – Last Date of Submission : Submission Closed
  • April 15, 2021 – Result Announcement

Evaluation Criteria

  • Originality of article: 30%
  • In depth knowledge of subject: 30%
  • Proper formatting and referencing: 20%
  • Relevance to contemporary times: 20%

Registration Fees

The registration fees is 100 INR . This fees can be submitted by any UPI transaction, E- Wallet, Net Banking, Credit Or Debit Cards, etc.

Result Declared:

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