Rex Nettleford Prize for Year-12 Students: Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies

About the Essay Competition

The Rex Nettleford Prize is an essay competition open to UK students who are currently in Year 12. The winner of the competition will be awarded a prize of £250.

The purpose of the Prize is:

  • To promote awareness amongst students in Year 12 of issues relating to colonialism and its legacies.
  • To encourage students in Year 12 to develop their abilities for independent research and thought.
  • To support teachers of able pupils by providing interesting and challenging further work and by bringing such students into contact with Higher Education.
  • To encourage able students to consider applying to study subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences, either at Oxford or at another university, by giving them experience of the type of work involved.
  • To recognise the effort and achievement of the most successful submissions by a prize and commendations.

Assessment Criteria

  • Entrants should be based in the UK and be in Year 12 (or equivalent) at their school or college.
  • Students must address a topic that is not directly related to their A level course.
  • The judges will look for a clear grasp of issues addressed, clarity in structuring and presentation of the argument, a critical approach to primary and secondary source materials, and originality of thought.

How to Apply

  • Essays should be no more than 2,500 words in length and should be on ONE of the given questions below.
  • The candidate may answer the question they select from the perspective of any discipline of their choosing (e.g. History, English Literature, etc.) but they must indicate at the head of their essay which discipline they have chosen.
  • Essays should be word processed and submitted by email in either Word or PDF format to:  
  • A font size not less than 12pt should be used; page margins should be set to no less than 2.54cm.
  • Essays should be accompanied by a bibliography, which does not count towards the word limit.
  • Entries must be sent with a completed entry form, which is available to download below.
  • Submissions should be accompanied by a signed statement from a teacher that the essay is the student’s original, unaided work and that it does not directly relate to the syllabuses of the A level subjects they are studying.

Essays must be received by 12 midnight on Monday 28th February 2022. Please note that the judges will not able to provide feedback on submissions.

Prizes will be awarded at Oriel College on the occasion of the Rex Nettleford Lecture during Trinity Term 2022 (April-June).

Download the entry form.

Questions for the 2022 Prize

Candidates must answer ONE of the following questions. Candidates should feel free to focus their answer in terms of its historical period, geographical centre and cultural range should that prove useful.

  1. Are colonialism and imperialism the same?
  2. Is it possible to study past colonialism entirely ‘according to the values of its time’?
  3. Our culture is increasingly recognised as being global. Is this a legacy of colonialism?
  4. ‘Language is an essential tool of colonial domination.’ Discuss this statement in relation to a particular colonial and cultural context of your choosing.