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The Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize for Year 12 students

About the Prize

The purpose of the Prize is:

  • To give students in Year 12 (or equivalent) who are considering applying to university an opportunity to write about a subject they are interested in. This should enable them to develop their abilities for independent research and thought in Philosophy.
  • To support teachers of able pupils by providing interesting and challenging further work in Philosophy and by bringing their students into contact with Higher Education.
  • To encourage able students to consider applying to study Philosophy, either at Oxford or at another university, by giving them some experience of the type of work involved.
  • To recognise the achievement and effort of the best of those who apply through prizes and commendations. Note: the judges are not able to provide feedback on any essays.

Assessment Criteria

Entrants should be in Year 12 (or equivalent) at their school or college. The judges will look for:

  • Originality of thought
  • An accurate understanding of the issues
  • Clarity of structure and expression
  • And a critical approach to what has been read

How to Apply

The 2022 competition is now open for entries.

  • Essays should be no more than 2,500 words in length and should be on one of the topics listed below. Essays should be word processed and submitted by email in either Word or PDF format to
  • A font size of 12pt or greater should be used, and the page margins should be set to no less than 1 inch.
  • Entries must be sent with a completed entry form, which is available to download below.
  • Please include a bibliography (note: this does not count towards the word limit).

Essays must be received by 12 noon on Friday 2nd September 2022.


Download the entry form

Questions for 2022 Competition

Those wishing to enter the 2022 essay competition should answer one of the following questions:

1. ‘If I know that something is true, I know that any evidence against it is misleading. So I am justified in never questioning my knowledge, even when I come across evidence against it.’ Discuss.

2. Is mathematics similar to morality?

3. Is the distinction between past and future fundamental?

2021 Competition Result

In 2021 we received close to 100 entries from students from all over the world. One essay was chosen as the winner:

  • Bo Cresser‘s (Kingsdale Foundation School, London) essay on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”
Read Bo’s essay here

One essay was chosen as the close runner-up

  • Sirui Cai‘s (Raffles, Singapore) essay on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”
Read Sirui’s essay here

The standard of entries was extremely high. The assessors wish to single out for special mention the essays by:

  • Amia Guha (Westminster School, Oxford), on the question “Does it really matter whether we have a free will or not?”
  • Nicholson Kanefield (Boulder High School, Colorado) on the question “Do you know that you are not dreaming right now? If so, how? If not, does it matter?”
  • Pongsapak Waiwitlikhit (Shrewsbury International School Riverside, Bangkok) on the question “Should we rethink the nature and limits of freedom of speech in the internet age?”
  • Oliver Weiner (Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School) on the question “Do you know that you are not dreaming right now? If so, how? If not, does it matter?”

The essays by

  • William Dewhurst (Downside School, Radstock)
  • Cecilia, Forsyth (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London)
  • Maya Grunschlag (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London)
  • Jiay Lin (Cardiff Sixth Form College)
  • Lucy Richardson (Cranford House School, Wallingford)
  • Haley Son (Seoul Foreign School)
  • Nathan Steward (Marling School, Stroud)
  • Martha Vine (Godolphin and Latymer School, London)

were also highly commended.

2020 Competition Result

In 2020, two essays were chosen as joint winners:

  • Kunal Barman‘s (St Edward’s School) essay on the question: “should vaccines be compulsory?”
  • Elliott Bonal‘s (Ecole Diagonale, France) essay answering the question: “Is it rational to believe in the existence of viruses but not to believe in the existence of dark matter?”
Read Kunal’s essay here
Read Elliott’s essay here

The general standard of entries was high. The assessors singled out for special mention the essays by

  • Bruce, Edward (Ralph Allen School)
  • Walsh, Oliver (Royal Grammar School)

The essays by

  • Orkeny, Bence (ELTE, Radnoti Miknlos Gyakorlo Altalanos Iskola es Gyakorlo Gimnazium, Hungary)
  • Yang, Joanne (Seoul International School)
  • Pang, Gabriel (Comberton Sixth Form)
  • O’ Gorman, Tom (Brighton College)
  • Goel, Abhay (Westminster School)
  • Frasheri, Allan (Largo High School)

were also highly commended.

further information