Oxford History Essay Competition 2014

Entries are now open for the 2018 competition.

The competition is open to all students who are currently studying in Year 12 (or equivalent) anywhere in the UK, and is designed to give students of any subject the opportunity to write an essay on the classical world, whether or not they have studied the ancient world before. Topics include ancient history, archaeology, ancient literature and philosophy.  The essay titles are chosen to take account of the research expertise at St John’s, and to encourage the widest possible approach to investigation of the ancient world. 

Prizes of up to £175 in book tokens will be awarded for the best essays and all entrants will receive a certificate of entry.  Entrants will also be invited to attend a study afternoon at St John’s College on Thursday 19 April 2018.

The deadline for entries is 4pm on Thursday 22 February 2018

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at access@sjc.ox.ac.uk

Due to the large number of entries, we are not able to offer feedback on individual essays; instead tutors produce a report which reflects on the previous year's competition. Please find here the Essay Competition Report for 2017. 

2017 Competition results
161 students submitted essays as part of our Classics and Ancient History essay competition 2017. The winners were: 

  • Overall winner and winner in the Literature category: Constance Everett-Pite
  • Winner in the History category:  Nicholas Pymont
  • Winner in the Philosophy category: Charlotte DeLeyser
  • Winner in the Archaeology category: Laura Garratt

The following entrants received a certificate of high commendation for their entries: Rose Grossel, Jan Preiss, Matt Coleclough, James Maskill.

Studying the ancient world
St John’s offers courses in Classics & Joint Schools, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, and History (Ancient and Modern). We welcome applications from students with and without prior experience of studying the ancient world. 

This essay competition is part of a range of activities offered by the Classics faculty at Oxford. Further information about their work with schools can be found on their Outreach pages.

The Robson History Prize is an annual competition for Year 12 or Lower 6th students. The Prize was established in 2007 in memory of the historian Robert Robson, who was for many years a Fellow and Tutor at Trinity. The aims of the Robson Prize are twofold: firstly, to encourage ambitious and talented Year 12 or Lower Sixth students considering applying to university to read History or a related discipline; and secondly, to recognize the achievements both of high-calibre students and of those who teach them.

Candidates are invited each year to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 4,000 words on a topic to be chosen from the list of questions.

The topics for the 2018 competition are available here.

Submissions must be received by the deadline of 1 July each year. Results will be announced around the beginning of September.


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 with which to buy history books), and a Second Prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college. In addition, further deserving essays of a high quality will be commended.

Any queries should be directed to Dr Peter Sarris by e-mail or by post.

Past Robson Prize-winners


1st Prize: Mr Alex Vinen (Westminster School)
2nd Prize: Miss Anna Brady (Sheringham Sixth Form)


1st Prize: Miss Alexa Stanger (St Paul’s Girls’ School)
2nd Prize: Mr Luke Hallam (Durham Johnston Comprehensive School)


1st Prize: Mr Patrick Hudson (The King’s School, Chester)
2nd Prize: Miss Kathleen Mitchell-Fox (The Marlborough Science Academy, St Albans)


1st Prize: Miss Poppy Freeman-Cuerden (Finham Park School)
2nd Prize: Miss Eleanor Smith-Hahn (Westminster School)


1st Prize: Mr M Rees (St John the Baptist High School, Aberdare)
2nd Prize: Miss H Gass (The Queen’s School, Chester)


1st Prize: Mr S Galimberti (International School, Milan)
2nd Prize: Mr S Lock (King’s College School, Wimbledon)


1st Prize: Mr C. Easton (Newcastle College)
2nd Prize: Mr D. MacDonald (Sgoil Lionacleic, Isle of Eriskay)


1st Prize: Mr P. Hoffman (Stonyhurst College)
2nd Prize: Mr C. Humphreys (Bolitho Sixth Form College)

Four others were commended: Mr T. Gibbs, Miss N. Rainey, Mr R. Smith and Mr C. Wilson.
There were 134 applicants.


1st Prize: Mr Aaron Taylor (Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School)
2nd Prize: Ms Louisa Caines (Cheltenham College)


1st Prize: Mr Josh Mills (Nottingham High School)
2nd Prize: Mr Christopher Bond (Cheltenham College)


1st Prize: Mr Ben Slingo (Bedford School)
2nd Prize: Ms Nisadha Bandara (Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls)

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