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 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 prize

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 judges

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.

Enter now

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.

  1. Is religion important for a good life? Discuss your view using one particular religion or a non-theistic worldview as an example.
  2. Can an AI system think?
    Suggested resources:
  3. Can we justify keeping non-human animals as pets?
    Suggested resource:
  4. What is work?
    Suggested resource:
  5. Is cuteness in the eye of the beholder?
    Suggested resources:
  6. 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

Good luck!

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