Robinson College University of Cambridge Essay Prize
Age limit: 16-17
The Robinson College Essay Prize is open to all students currently in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent) at a UK School. 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.
Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions below, which should be no longer than 2,000 words (including 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.
Discuss, with reference to any academic discipline, any area of interest raised by one of the following
1. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin) Do you agree?
2. Does the theory of evolution by natural selection tell us anything interesting about how we should live?
3. Watch the following TED talk by novelist Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story. TED Global. (2009) Available online via: https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story. What are novels for? Answer in light of the TED talk and any one or two text(s) you have read recently.
4. "A true war story is never moral. […] If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever." (Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried, 1990). Write about any piece of war literature or art about war in light of O'Brien's claim.
5. There is no such thing as 'untranslatable'. Discuss.
There is no submission fee.
Three prizes will be awarded, each person receiving book tokens to the value of £100. Further essays will be commended for their high quality. Winning and highly commended entrants will be invited to the College for a prize-giving ceremony and celebratory lunch with fellows and Directors of Studies at the college.