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Essay competition

Thank you to everyone who entered our 2023 essay competition! We were blown away by the number of entries and the quality of the essays produced. 

Congratulations to Xanthe Foster (Biology) and Lily Blackhurst (Law), the joint winners of this year's competition. Our team of Oxbridge markers said that Xanthe's essay on animal testing and Lily's essay on criminal intent in children were impressively focused, analytical and well beyond A-level in content. The runners-up were Yemisi Oguntimirin (Politics) and Hiyab Gebremeskel (Medicine). 

The other shortlisted essays which impressed our markers were:

  • Varya Mishra, Medicine

  • Allegra Cucos, Law

  • Kevin Vross, Engineering

  • Shahid Grera, Medicine

  • Ilan Cohen, Economics

  • Yahya A, Law


    Kitty Langdon, Classics

We're planning on running this again in 2024, so watch this space if you're a UK state school student who'd like to get your essay read and marked by Oxbridge students! In the meantime, you can read all the winning essays from 2023 here.

The Oxbridge Launchpad is running our first ever essay competition, for 15-17 year olds from state schools! We want to provide a writing opportunity with guaranteed feedback from Oxbridge students to help you on your way to making a strong university application, whether that be to Oxbridge or somewhere else. 

How does it work?

  • We have provided a list of questions (see below) for a variety of different subjects. If you don't see one that inspires you, we encourage you to write your own to explore something outside of the usual curriculum - just email to let us know first and we can approve it.

  • Entries are open to UK state school students only, and we can only accept one entry per person.

  • Structure and style are up to you, references are optional (although we would encourage wider reading as this can really help your understanding of a subject) 

  • Suggested word count is ~1500 words, up to a maximum of 2000 words.

  • Please submit your essay as a pdf called 'FirstName_Surname_Subject' by emailing it to by 12pm 15th April. We will review submissions in April and announce winner(s) in May.

  • If you'd like to register your interest and receive reminders, please fill out the form here 

  • Please get in touch using the email listed above if you have any other questions and we will be happy to answer them. Happy writing! 

What's in it for me?

  • The opportunity to research your subject in depth and practise your essay-writing

  • Material to talk about on your personal statement or in your interview

  • Written feedback on your essay from our team of current Oxbridge students

  • The winning essay(s) will be published on our website, along with the names of the authors of shortlisted essays

  • Strong candidates will have the opportunity to write other short essays to be published on the website in future, after an editing process with our team of Oxbridge students.

  • Prizes for the winning essay(s), including free places on our summer programme.


Anthropology - Genetically, what makes us human?

Biology - Is animal testing essential to biology?

Chemistry - Is nuclear fusion really a feasible energy source?

Classics - ‘Roman writers can never escape from their ancestral history.’ Discuss.

Computer Science - Is there anything wrong with letting machine learning algorithms make hiring decisions?

Economics - Is classical economic theory still relevant in the modern day? If not, how does our approach to economic theory need to change? You may wish to consider the impact of behavioural economics in your answer.

Engineering - What has been the most important technological development across time?

Literature - ‘Some endings are stronger than others’ (FOWLER). How important are techniques of closure? You may refer to texts of your choice.

Geography - To what extent is geography an inherently colonial subject?

History - Is history worth studying if it doesn’t repeat itself? 

Law - Should children under the age of 18 be treated differently when it comes to judging the ‘mens rea’ of a crime?

Linguistics/Philology - There is no such thing as ‘untranslatable’. Discuss.

Management and Business - Pick an organisation you are interested in. What is the current culture and structure like, and how might this have to adapt to the current business environment?

Mathematics - Can mathematics be considered a science? If not, what is it?

Medicine - Should individuals be able to reject life-saving treatment?

Philosophy - Is there any reason to think that we have stronger obligations to help the poor in the city we live in than those on the other side of the world?

Politics - It is irrelevant whether legislatures match the population’s proportions of ethnic minorities, disabled people or LGBTQ+ people. What matters is that the legislature makes laws in the interests of these people.’ Do you agree?

Psychology - How are helping and altruistic behaviours determined by social and personal beliefs, and social context? Are some societies more likely to promote these behaviours than others?

Theology and Religion - How significant do you consider the distinction between monotheism and polytheism to be?

Deadline is 12pm on April 15th, 2023, so get writing!

Any further questions, contact

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