The winners of the 2020 Jesus College Essay Competition, which is open to all Welsh state school students in years 8-11, have been announced.

The annual competition, run in partnership with Oxplore, aims to engage young people with debates and ideas that go beyond what is covered in the classroom; stimulating curiosity and promoting broader thinking. Questions tackle complex ideas across a wide range of subjects and draw on the latest research undertaken at Oxford. The competition winner receives £300 in book tokens, with £200 of book tokens for second prize.

This year, students were challenged to write a 750-word essay on one of the following ‘big questions’:

  • Can time travel ever be possible?
  • Do we need a Royal family?
  • Do we stay the same from birth?
  • Is knowledge dangerous?
  • Is school the best place to learn?
  • Would you rather be free than safe?

The entries were judged by the Access & Outreach team. We received over eighty submissions - all of high quality - and the winners were….

First Prize

First place winner of £300 book tokens was Annis from the Cardiff region for ‘Would you rather be free than safe?’ Shelley Knowles, Access and Admissions Assistant, says, “Annis wrote in a sophisticated and powerful way to explore the idea of being untroubled and ‘free’ or anxious and ‘safe’. An excellent and original approach that made us ponder this question for some time!”   

Second prize

Second prize winner of £200 book tokens went to Catrin from the Rhondda, Cynon, Taff region for an essay on ‘Do we need a royal family?’ Shelley says, “Catrin provided a strong and critical argument to answer this question and raised some excellent and original points.”

A ‘special recognition’ prize of £30 book tokens was also awarded to Oliver from the Cardiff region for his discussion on ‘Can time travel ever be possible?’ This extra award was to celebrate and recognise effort that wasn’t a winning entry but, as Shelley explains, “offered a novel approach and some ‘out of the box’ thinking to the question – which we love at Oxford!”

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Essay Competition this year and congratulations to our prize winners.

Find out about all our Access and Outreach activities here.