Essay Prizes for History


Peterhouse Vellacott History Prize

A great opportunity to start exploring your historical interests and get a taste of university-level research, the Vellacott prize is open to all students in year 12 or equivalent, regardless of nationality or school country. Essays must be between 2,000 and 4,000 words including footnotes and appendices.

The Robson History Prize

An annual competition for Year 12 or Lower 6th students, the aims of the Robson Prize are twofold: firstly, to encourage ambitious and talented Year 12 or Lower Sixth students considering applying to university to read History or a related discipline; and secondly, to recognize the achievements both of high-calibre students and of those who teach them. Candidates are invited each year to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 4,000 words.

The Robinson College Essay Prize

Open to all students currently in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent) at a UK School, this prize is designed to give students the opportunity to develop and showcase their independent study and writing skills. Response should be no longer than 2,000 words (including footnotes and captions).  The questions may be discussed with reference to any academic discipline or area of interest. Up to three entries may be submitted per school.



Established in 1971, in memory of a St Hugh’s College alumna, the Julia Wood Prize is an annual History essay competition open to Sixth Form pupils who have not been in the Sixth Form of any school or college for a period of more than two years. The Prize, worth up to £500, is offered by the Principal and Fellows of St Hugh’s College for the best historical essay submitted by the closing date.

The John Locke Institute Essay Competition

Entry is open to students from any country and any school. Each essay should address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, footnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). There is a prize of £100 for the best essay, and the essay will be published (with the authors' permission) on the Institute website.

Fitzwilliam Archaeology Essay Competition

This essay competition is for Lower Sixth Formers or Year 12 students (or equivalent). International applicants are welcomed but the essay must be written in English. There is a strict limit of five submissions per school for each essay competition. Essays should be less than 2500 words long, and contain a list of works consulted and cited at the end. This bibliography is excluded from the world limit, but any footnotes are included.