2023 R.A. Butler Politics Essay Competition with £1000 in prizes

R.A. Butler Politics Essay Competition with £1000 in cash prizes

The R.A. Butler Politics Essay Competition call for applicants is open for 2023!

The objectives of the R.A. Butler Prize are twofold. Firstly, it aims to encourage students with an interest in modern politics and world affairs to think about undertaking university studies in Politics, International Studies or a related discipline; it is not limited to those already studying these subjects or indeed other social sciences.

Secondly, its intention is to recognise the achievements both of high-calibre students and of those who teach them.

R.A. Butler Politics Essay Competition 2023 Details

The Prize is jointly organised by Trinity College Cambridge and Cambridge University’s Department of Politics and International Studies.

The Prize was established in memory of the former Master of Trinity College, Lord Butler, who most famously served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and who was responsible for the introduction of free secondary education for all students in the UK.

Candidates are invited to submit an essay on a topic to be chosen from a list of general questions announced in March each year, and to be submitted in August.

The Essay Format

Essays can be up to 3,000 words, including all footnotes and references but excluding the bibliography. 

It’s worth considering the use of examples in your essays: the best essays often use a diverse selection of contemporary, historical or literary examples. 

They encourage you to provide references to your sources of information and to include a bibliography at the end of the essay.  Please include your name on the document and save the file as “Surname, First name”.

The Essay Question

Answer one of the following. You are encouraged to use a diverse selection of contemporary, historical or literary examples in making your arguments, and not to restrict yourself to material taken from school courses. Essays should be no longer than 3,000 words, including any footnotes.

  1. Are political promises always a sign of political weakness?
  2. Should states and organisations that benefitted from slavery pay reparations to descendants of those who were enslaved?
  3. Do we now live in an era of de-globalisation?
  4. Why do we provide more support to victims of natural disasters than to victims of war?
  5. Should countries in the Global South be compelled to abandon the use of fossil fuels?
  6. Is a society’s level of civilisation revealed by entering its prisons?
  7. Should Britain re-join the EU?
  8. Should those who work for the public sector have the same rights to strike as those who work in the private sector?
  9. What should be the political ramifications of the 2021 census showing that less than half of the population in England and Wales identify as Christian?
  10. Would politics be better without political parties?


The Prize is for students in Year 12 or Lower 6th at the time the questions are released in March.  Students based abroad are most welcome to participate.

To be eligible, you must be in your penultimate year of school. That is, to be eligible for the 2023 competition, you should be expecting to receive your final school results in the year from September 2023 to August 2024.

This condition is held to strictly and, to be fair to the participants, no exceptions are made.  Each entrant to the competition is allowed to submit only one essay.

Who can enter the competition?

The R.A. Butler Prize for Essays in Politics and International Studies is a competition that can be entered by students in Year 12 or the Lower 6th. 

Essay Competition Entry fee

The essay competition is free to enter.

R.A. Butler Politics Essay Competition 2023 Prizes

The competition carries a First Prize of £600, 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), and a Second Prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college.

Winners will be announced in September, and will be invited to visit the College to meet some of the teaching staff.

Essay Competition Application Guide

Please submit essays using the online form. Please include your name on the document and save the file as “Surname, First name”.

Essay application Deadline

Essays must be submitted by 12 noon (UK time) on Tuesday 1 August 2023. 

Competition Website

You can check the essay competition website following this link.

Check related prizes in the international essay competitions category

Check other prizes and contests following International Competitions category

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