Philosophy essay competition 2018-2019

Department of Philosophy essay competition 2017-18

About the competition

The Sheffield Philosophy Essay Prize is an annual competition for Years 10, 11 and 12. The aims of this prize are threefold: firstly, to widen interest in philosophy and in studying philosophy at university level among students who would not otherwise be exposed to the subject; secondly, to encourage ambitious and talented secondary school students considering applying to university to study philosophy; and thirdly, to recognize the achievements both of high-calibre students and of those who teach them. The competition is run by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.

Write an essay of around 1,000 words (but not more than 1,500 words) on one of the topics below. Include a bibliography. Essays must be typed, saved as a Word or RTF document and emailed to before the deadline.

Entrants must be students in years 10, 11 or 12 in the UK.

The deadline for submissions is midnight, Friday 29 March 2019. Winners will be announced by Wednesday 17 April 2019.

The prizewinners

Congratulations to our 2019 Philosophy Essay Competition Prizewinners

  • First Prize: Hermione Zhou
  • Second Prize: Charlie MacIntosh
  • Third Prize: Jenny Yuening Li

Highly Commended

  • Holly Nicholls
  • Madeleine Exact
  • Benjamin Pearson
  • Emily Clay

Other short-listed finalists

  • Amy Ware
  • Chloe McDowell
  • Winnie Wang
  • Ophelia Tavares

We received a very high number of essays and were truly impressed by the creativity, quality of argument, and independence of thought of the entrants to the competition. 

More information

For more information contact Edd Poole:
Telephone: +44 (0) 1142 229704

How to enter

The competition is now closed. 

Essay topics

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. Good luck!

  1. Is Epicurus right that a wise person does not fear death? Suggested Resource: Why is death bad?
  2. Does the Paris Agreement on climate change appropriately reflect the demands of climate justice? Suggested Resource: Fairness(es) and the INDCs
  3. Is time travel possible? Suggested Resource: The philosophical problem of killing baby Hitler, explained
  4. Should there be greater public participation in the criminal justice system?
    Suggested Resource: Should there be greater public participation in criminal justice?
  5. What is truth? Suggested Resource: Wake up! Foucault's warning on fake news

Whatever question you choose to answer, make sure to write it down at the top of your essay.

Please remember to keep a copy of your essay as submitted essays cannot be returned. It is unfortunately not possible to provide feedback on the essays submitted.

Enter now

Send your work by email attachment to before midnight on Friday 29 March 2019.

Please note that we will not be able to provide feedback on entries, but thank you, in advance, for your submission.

Interested in studying Philosophy at Sheffield? Find out more

Last year's winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2017-18 Philosophy Essay Prize

1st Prize - Jack Chong, Wellington College Berkshire - Download the essay on the passage of time

2nd Prize - Julius Gasson, Magdalen College School - Download the essay on cultures

3rd Prize - Charlotte Nuttall, Bolton School Girls' Division - Download the essay on the passage of time

Congratulations to Jack, Julius and Charlotte and thank you to all entrants who took part in the competition.