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Rex Nettleford Prize for Undergraduates: Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies

About the Essay Competition

The Rex Nettleford Prize is an essay competition open to current undergraduate students at the University of Oxford. The winner of the essay prize will be awarded £250.

The purpose of the Prize is:

  • To promote awareness amongst students of issues relating to colonialism and its legacies.
  • To encourage students to pursue independent research beyond their degree subject and to write up their findings in a clear, rigorous and effective way.
  • To encourage students to think critically in using data and argument.
  • To recognise the effort and achievement of the most successful submissions by a prize and commendations.

Note: the judges will not able to provide feedback on submissions.

Assessment Criteria

  • Entrants should be current undergraduate students at the University of Oxford and may be in any year of their degree course.
  • Students must address a topic that is not directly related to their degree 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 Enter

Rex Nettleford Prize is now closed for entries.

Prizes will be awarded at Oriel College on the occasion of the Rex Nettleford Lecture during Trinity Term 2023.

Questions for the 2023 Competition

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.

  1. What role do the arts play in the creation or challenging of racialized hierarchies?
  2. Pick an object that you think illuminates the legacies of colonialism, and explain why and how.
  3. How long do the legacies of colonialism last?
  4. “The truth is one and same, everywhere in the universe. Therefore, proposals to de-colonise academic curricula are wrong-headed.” Discuss.
Download the entry form
Download the tutor declaration form

Previous Essay Questions

Candidates were encouraged 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.

Essays are no more than 2,500 words in length.

further information

History of Oriel

Living at Oriel

The Rex Nettleford Prizes