Heythrop Philosophy Essay Contest

Staton Essay Prize 2017

Revolution & Dissent


‘Revolution’ and ‘dissent’ resonate across cultures and through time. They are represented in responses from writers, artists, politicians, theologians, historians, philosophers, economists – thinkers of every sort. 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg; 100 years ago French troops on the Western Front mutinied and the Bolsheviks toppled the Tsar in the Russian Revolution, and 50 years ago the Sexual Offenses Act decriminalised homosexuality in the UK.  In 2017, the British government invoked Article 50 and began the process of Brexit and Donald Trump became the 45th President of the USA: are these dissenting and revolutionary events?


The Staton Essay Prize is an interdisciplinary essay competition open to all students currently studying in Year 12 anywhere in the UK (or its equivalent in the EU and internationally).


The interdisciplinary character of the competition reflects our specialism at Regent’s Park College, in teaching and research across the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the success of our students on joint degree programmes.


The aim of the competition is to give school pupils the opportunity to explore connections between the subjects they study or are interested in, to develop their independent research skills, and to encourage them to consider interdisciplinary courses at university.




The closing date for entries will be Friday 28 July; all will be acknowledged by letter in the autumn and entrants whose work is commended by the judges will receive certificates. One top prize will be awarded in each of three categories (contemporary worlds, historical worlds, and literary worlds); £250 for the best essay overall, and a further two £150 prizes. The three prize-winners will be invited to a special awards dinner in College, to which they may bring guests, which usually takes place at the end of October.




In NO MORE than 2000 words, answer ONE question from this list:


Contemporary Worlds category:

In this category, entrants could combine subjects like contemporary history (1980s onwards), economics, philosophy, religious studies, and politics.

(1) ‘The revolution will not be televised’ (Gil Scott-Heron). How important is the media in revolution and protest?

(2) Is dissent a sign of a healthy democracy?

(3) Do you agree that ‘poverty is the parent of revolution and crime’ (Aristotle)? 


Historical Worlds category:

In this category, entrants could combine subjects like ancient history, archaeology, classical literature, history (from the fall of Rome to 1979), philosophy, and religious studies.

(4) Do protest movements gain momentum because of a unifying ideology or charismatic leadership?

(5) Do revolutions always end in disappointment?

(6) Is protest more effective if it is underpinned with violence?


Literary Worlds category:

In this category, entrants could combine subjects like classical literature, English language, English literature, history (any period), philosophy, and religious studies.

(7) ‘The World Turned-Upside-Down’ (title of a pamphlet from the English Civil War). Do you think that works of literature turn worlds upside down or stabilize them?

(8) ‘Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress?’ (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince). Do you agree?

(9) In what ways do revolutions spur literary creativity?




Your essay must bring together two or more subjects OR combine a subject you are studying with a personal interest.


Include a list of all the sources (including online resources and websites) that you have used to research and write your essay. This list is not included in the word count.


The competition will be judged by College tutors in the relevant disciplines; unfortunately, essays will not be returned and the judges cannot provide feedback (written or verbal) to entrants.


The judges will reward sophistication in the level of engagement between disciplines, clarity of thought and expression, and the careful choice of examples.


The judges’ decisions are final, and they reserve the right not to award a prize in any category if they consider that none of the entries reach the required standard.


Submit your essay as a Word document, with a completed title page, to: essay@regents.ox.ac.uk.


Please ensure that ONLY your initials and date of birth appear on EACH PAGE of the essay.


To download a title page for your essay, click here.


The College cannot accept faxed entries.


Closing date: Friday 28 July 2017

Winners will be announced in the week beginning Monday 25 September



Philosophy Essay Prize

The winner of the Prize will receive £2,500 with his or her essay being published in Philosophy and identified as the essay prize winner.

2018 Topic:  Philosophy and International Relations

Arguably, philosophers have been thinking about issues regarding the status and relations between nations for as long as they have been thinking about nations themselves. With the development of colonisation and empires in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, serious consideration began to be given to the philosophy of relations between peoples, and this was further intensified with the rise of the nation state in Europe in the 19th century and the competition and wars between ‘great powers’ . Entries for this competition may address such general issues as the nature of nations, states and international and multi-state entities, and the basis for normative relations between them (e.g. ‘realism’ vs ‘moralism’, and ‘nationalism’ vs ‘cosmopolitanism’). More specific and practical issues might also be taken up; such as the basis for international aid; immigration and refugees; wars of self-defence vs wars of humanitarian intervention; international terrorism; globalisation of finance, trade and services; and environmentalism and global threats, etc.

In assessing entries priority will be given to originality, clarity of expression, breadth of interest, and potential for advancing discussion. All entries will be deemed to be submissions to Philosophy and more than one may be published. In exceptional circumstances the prize may be awarded jointly in which case the financial component will be divided, but the aim is to select a single prize-winner.

Entries should be prepared in line with standard Philosophy guidelines for submission (see http://royalinstitutephilosophy.org/publications/philosophy-information-for-authors/). They should be submitted electronically in Word, with PRIZE ESSAY in the subject heading, to assistant@royalinstitutephilosophy.org.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 1st October 2018. 

Entries will be considered by a committee of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and the winner announced by the end 2018.  The winning entry will be published in Philosophyin April 2019.

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