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Magdalene College Cambridge

Arts and Humanities Essay Competition

Magdalene College is delighted to announce a brand-new Arts and Humanities Essay Competition.

If you will be in Year 12 or equivalent in the 2023-24 academic year, you can register interest for the Arts and Humanities Essay Competition 2024.

Submissions for 2023 are now closed. The winners and their winning essays can be seen on the Arts and Humanities Essay Competition 2023 Winner's announcement page.

The competition is open to students attending state-maintained schools in the UK, and who are in their penultimate year of education (Year 12 in England and Wales, S5 in Scotland, or Year 13 in Northern Ireland).

The essay questions are available to view here: 

The essay questions cover the breadth of arts and humanities subjects offered at undergraduate level at the University of Cambridge. Questions are often multi-disciplinary, designed to encourage entries to consider the connections between various subjects, and to allow entries to approach the question from varying angles. Effective essays will present a clear argument supported by specific, relevant examples.

Submissions should adhere to the word limit of 2,000 words, which does not include footnotes or bibliographies. The word count should be stated at the end of the essay. All sources should be cited and listed in a bibliography. We understand that entrants may not have prior experience of referencing and would recommend this website for an explanation of the Harvard referencing system. Entrants are welcome to use alternative reference styles if they prefer. More information about referencing will be provided in our ‘Refining and Referencing’ webinar, details of which can be found below.

Entrants should submit one essay only. The submission must be entirely the entrant’s own work and must not be submitted or have been submitted to an exam board as part of any coursework, extended essay, or Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), either in part or in full.

The Essay Competition has a First Prize of £300, a Second Prize of £200, and a Third Prize of £100. Honourable mentions may also be awarded. Prize winners will be invited to Magdalene College in Summer 2023.

The deadline for submissions is 28 April 2023 at 18:00.

Submissions for the Arts and Humanities Essay Competition 2023 are now closed. 

Essay-writing Webinars

Magdalene College Schools Liaison Officer is delivering a series of webinars to provide advice on the stages of the essay-writing process.

Planning and Researching

The Writing Process

Refining and Referencing

If you have any questions regarding the competition, please contact Natalie Thompson, Schools Liaison Officer, by emailing