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Julia Wood History Essay Competition

Home → Study Here → Outreach → Essay Competitions → Julia Wood History Essay Competition

Established in 1971, in memory of a St Hugh’s College historian, 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 Principal and Fellows of St Hugh’s College, Oxford offer a prize worth up to £500, for the best historical essay submitted by a pupil who, at the closing date, has been in the Sixth Form of any school or college for a period of not more than two years.

The choice of historical subject is left to candidates. As the below examples suggest, essays which fare well in the competition tend to be specially written for it.

2023 Julia Wood Prize Winners

This year the number of entries to the Julia Wood Prize was 321. The prizes were awarded as follows:

First Place

Clara Ahnert, Year 12, St George’s School, Edinburgh for their essay entitled: Redeeming the State: Political Crisis and the Emergence of German Ordoliberalism, 1919-1949

Fergus Walsh, Year 12, St Paul’s School, for their essay entitled: From Kazinczy to Kossuth: How Developments in Magyar Language and Literature Influenced the Hungarian Revolution of 1848

Daisy Rehin-Hollingworth, Year 12, Bilborough College, for their essay entitled: To What extent did Medieval Spain, from the Umayyad Caliphate to the Expulsion of the Jews in 1492, Provide a Golden Age for Jews?

Tilak Patel, Year 12, Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, for their essay entitled: The Tragic Era: The Supreme Court and the Undisturbed Memory of Reconstruction

The winners and a number of those who had done particularly well were invited to tea in College in September.

The competition will reopen in February 2024.

2023 Poster

Cover Sheet

Julia Wood Prize Submissions Form

Please use this form to upload your submission for the Julia Wood Prize.

  • First Name *
  • Name of School *
  • Your Essay Title *
  • E-Mail Address *
  • Upload Your Essay and Cover Sheet * Drop files here or Select files Accepted file types: doc, pdf, docx, Max. file size: 128 MB. empty to support CSS :empty selector. --> Please upload an electronic copy of your Essay, together with the completed Cover Sheet, in Word format. Mac users should select 'Export To Word', rather than saving the Cover Sheet as a '.Pages' document. Please note that Essays should be no more than 4000 words in length.
  • Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

St Hugh’s College

Founded in 1886, St Hugh’s is now one of the largest colleges in Oxford. The College was established to offer an Oxford education to women, and it retains a strong sense of its radical tradition and of the importance of opening Oxford up to all who would do well here. St Hugh’s now accepts men and women, and welcomes students from every country and any kind of background.

St Hugh’s has a beautiful setting just to the north of the city centre, with Edwardian buildings and some of the largest college grounds. The College is known as the ‘island site’ because of its tranquil gardens, and it is a restful place to live and work.

Frosty St Hugh's main lawn

St Hugh’s College admits about 11 undergraduates a year to read single Honours History; and a further two or three (in varying combinations) for the Joint Honours Schools of Ancient and Modern History, History and English, History and Modern Languages, and History and Politics.

What we are looking for is the ability to think imaginatively, a willingness to argue, a real interest in ideas, and a commitment to the subject. We have no preference for particular subjects at A-level, International Baccalaureate or Pre-U. Most candidates will usually have been studying History, but even this is not essential. However, languages (both modern and classical), English Literature, and Economics have, in their different ways, proved useful preparations for the course. We welcome both pre- and post- qualification applications; and we generally admit a few people each year from Scotland, Ireland, and further afield.

St Hugh’s provides excellent facilities for studying History: the library has unusually large and up-to-date holdings in all periods (one of the tutors is Library Fellow), and there is an active, sometimes rumbustious History Society. We encourage our undergraduates to travel in vacations. We participate in the History Faculty’s exchange programme with Princeton University, so most years one of our second year historians spends a semester at Princeton. In recent years several of our historians have gone on to undertake research in History and related fields; others have got jobs in journalism, television, law, teaching, the Foreign Office, the UN, the City, Brussels, management and management consultancy, publishing, etc. The world has proved to be their oyster, with historical training at St Hugh’s providing them with the essential bit of grit.

More information about studying History at St Hugh’s College is available on our course and admissions pages .

St Hugh’s provides excellent facilities for studying History: the library has unusually large and up-to-date Since the establishment of the essay competition in 1994, 50 school students have been given prizes; many of these people went on to study History at Oxford and St Hugh’s. The names of the winners and their essay titles can be seen below.

The winners in 2022 were:

Alexander Gong , in Year 12 at St Paul’s School, for an essay entitled: The paradox of the Model Operas: to what extent was there a ‘cultural’ revolution in China between 1966-1976? ; Anneli Matthews , in Year 12 at the College of Richard Collyer, for an essay entitled: ”Never Quite Roman” – The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Russian Imperial Thought and Roman Inheritance ; and runner-up was Ben Heyes , in Year 12 at Westminster School, for an essay entitled: To what extent did the United States precipitate the dissolution of British Empire after 1939?

Who was Julia Wood?

Julia Wood was an alumna of St Hugh’s College. She was born on 19th December 1938 and studied History and was an Exhibitioner at the College between 1957 and 1960. Tragically, she died in an accident whilst in Australia in 1970. The fund for the Julia Wood Prize was established by the parents and friends of Julia Wood in May 1971.

history essay writing competition 2022

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Libra Education

Essay Prizes for History

The 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.


An annual competition for Year 12 or Lower 6th students, the Robson Prize encourages ambitious and talented Year 12 or Lower Sixth students to apply to university to read History and recognises 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.


Open to all students currently in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, or equivalent) at a UK School, responses 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.


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.


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.


Entries are invited for a history essay prize for students in the sixth form during the 2023-24 academic year. The subject this year is "Repression in Pre-war Nazi Germany" – a seminal moment in 20th century history, leading onto the second world war and the Holocaust. The winning prize is £1,500 and there are also prizes for the second, third and those highly commended. Length: 1,800 to 2,000 words. One entry per student but no limit to entries per school.

The Versus History Essay Prize

The Versus History Essay Prize (#VHEssayPrize) is an annual essay competition for Year 11-13 (or equivalent) students across the world. The #VHEssayPrize aims to promote history as an academic discipline and a popular pursuit amongst the future generation of historians, who will ultimately play a key role in preserving and interpreting our global past and heritage. Versus History is dedicated to democratizing access to, and inclusion in, the field of history, and offering essay prizes contributes to this goal. 2023 marks the exciting debut of the competition from Versus History. 

history essay writing competition 2022


2023 global essay competition.

T he John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style. Our Essay Competition invites students to explore a wide range of challenging and interesting questions beyond the confines of the school curriculum.

Entering an essay in our competition can build knowledge, and refine skills of argumentation. It also gives students the chance to have their work assessed by experts. All of our essay prizes are judged by a panel of senior academics drawn from leading universities including Oxford and Princeton. The judges will choose their favourite essay from each of seven subject categories, and a junior category for under 15s, and then select an overall 'best essay' across the seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.

Q1. A team of scientists wants to discover how many genders there are. How should they proceed?

Q2. In what sense are you the same person today that you were when you were ten?

Q3. Is tax theft? 


Q1. Do the results of elections express the will of the people?

Q2. If China becomes the leading superpower, what would that mean for the people who live there? What would it mean for everyone else?

Q3. What might account for the different levels of political corruption in your own country and your country's nearest neighbour?

Q1. A government funds its own expenditure by taxing its population. Suppose, instead, it relied solely on money newly created by the central bank? What would be the advantages and/or disadvantages?   

Q2. In his thought experiment, the Iowa Car Crop, David Friedman tries to show that growing wheat is, in an important sense, just another 'technology' we can use for manufacturing cars, and in some circumstances a much more efficient one.

If international trade is thus a way of using less valuable inputs to produce more valuable outputs, why would governments impose trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas, thereby forcing producers to be more wasteful and less efficient?

Q3. What would happen if we banned billionaires?


Q1. How much richer or poorer are the British today than they would have been without the effects of British colonialism? 

Q2. Which has a bigger effect on history: the plans of the powerful or their mistakes?

Q3. Which characteristics distinguish successful movements for social change from unsuccessful ones?

Q1. Can happiness be measured?

Q2. In surveys conducted in the United States, significantly more than half the respondents reported that they believed themselves to be more attractive than the median person in their country. How might we account for this?

Q3. Are beliefs voluntary?


Q1. What distinguishes a small religion from a large cult?

Q2. If you cannot persuade your intelligent, sympathetic friends to embrace your religious belief system, do you have enough reason to believe what you believe? 

Q3. What was God doing before He created the cosmos?

Q1. Would justice be better served in the United States if more Supreme Court judges were women? 

Q2. Suppose that you were contemplating, in violation of the rules of this competition, submitting an essay written for you by artificial intelligence. What would be the difference between such an act and ordinary attempted theft?

Q3. Are there too many laws?


JUNIOR prize

Q1. Is safety more important than fun?

Q2.  If you had $10 billion to spend on making the world better, how would you spend it?

Q3. What, if anything, do your parents owe you?

Q4. What is something important, about which nearly everybody is wrong?

Q5. Why is John Locke sometimes called the father of liberalism?


Our entry requirements and submission system have changed substantially.

Please read the following carefully.

Entry to the John Locke Institute Essay Competition 2023 is open to students from any country.


Only candidates who registered before the registration deadline of 31 May 2023 may enter this year's competition.

All entries must be submitted by 11.59 pm BST on  the submission deadline: Friday, 30 June 2023 .  Candidates must be eighteen years old, or younger, on that date. (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be fourteen years old, or younger, on that date.)

Entry is free.

Each essay must address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, endnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). 

The filename of your pdf must be in this format: FirstName-LastName-Category-QuestionNumber.pdf; so, for instance, Alexander Popham would submit his answer to question 2 in the Psychology category with the following file name:


Essays with filenames which are not in this format will be rejected.

Candidates should NOT add footnotes. They may, however, add endnotes and/or a Bibliography that is clearly titled as such.

Each candidate will be required to provide the email address of an academic referee who is familiar with the candidate's written academic work. This should be a school teacher, if possible, or another responsible adult who is not a relation of the candidate. The John Locke Institute will email this referee to verify that the submitted essay is indeed the original work of the candidate.

Submissions may be made as soon as registration opens in April. We recommend that you submit your essay well in advance of th e deadline to avoid any last-minute complications and to ensure that you can submit your essay for free.

Acceptance of your essay depends on your granting us permission to use your data for the purposes of receiving and processing your entry as well as communicating with you about the Awards Ceremony Dinner, the academic conference for essay competition finalists, and other events and programmes of the John Locke Institute and its associated entities.  

Late entries

If for any reason you miss the 30 June deadline you will have an opportunity to make a late entry, under two conditions:

a) A late entry fee of 20.00 USD must be paid by credit card within twenty-four hours of the original deadline; and

b) Your essay must be submitted  before 11.59 pm BST on 10 July 2023.

To pay for late entry, a registrant need only log into his or her account, select the relevant option and provide the requested payment information.

Our grading system is proprietary. Essayists may be asked to discuss their entry with a member of the John Locke Institute’s faculty. We use various means to identify plagiarism, contract cheating, the use of AI and other forms of fraud . Our determinations in all such matters are final.

Essays will be judged on knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the competent use of evidence, quality of argumentation, originality, structure, writing style and persuasive force. The very best essays are likely to be those which would be capable of changing somebody's mind. Essays which ignore or fail to address the strongest objections and counter-arguments are unlikely to be successful .

Candidates are advised to answer the question as precisely and directly as possible.

The writers of the best essays will receive a commendation and be shortlisted for a prize. Writers of shortlisted essays will be notified by 11.59 pm BST on 31 July . They will also be invited to Oxford for an invitation-only academic conference and awards dinner in September, where the prize-winners will be announced. Unlike the competition itself, the academic conference and awards dinner are not free. Please be aware that n obody is required to attend either the academic conference or the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to Oxford.

All short-listed candidates, including prize-winners, will be able to download eCertificates that specify their achievement. If you win First, Second or Third Prize, and you travel to Oxford for the ceremony, you will receive a signed certificate. 

There is a prize for the best essay in each category. The prize for each winner of a subject category, and the winner of the Junior category, is a scholarship worth US$2000 towards the cost of attending any John Locke Institute programme, and the essays will be published on the Institute's website. Prize-giving ceremonies will take place in Oxford, at which winners and runners-up will be able to meet some of the judges and other faculty members of the John Locke Institute. Family, friends, and teachers are also welcome, subject to capacity constraints.

The candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, which comes with a US$10,000 scholarship to attend one or more of our summer schools and/or gap year courses.

The judges' decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

R egistration opens: 1 April, 2023.

Registration deadline: 31 May, 2023. ( Registration is required by this date for subsequent submission.)

Submission deadline: 30 June, 2023.

Late entry deadline: 10 July, 2023. (Late entries are subject to a 20.00 USD charge, payable by 1 July.)

Notification of short-listed essayists: 31 July, 2023.

Academic conference & awards dinners: 16 September, 2023.

Any queries regarding the essay competition should be sent to [email protected] . Please be aware that, due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to answer every query. In particular, questions whose answers can be found on our website will be ignored.

If you would like to receive, from time to time, content from our examiners about what makes for a winning essay or updates about the 2023 essay competition, please provide your email here to be added to our contact list. .

Thanks for subscribing!


"I hope you will find this year's questions thought-provoking, and that you will be one of the thousands of contestants from over a hundred different countries to submit an essay to what has become the world's largest competition of its kind. Not only will the experience of researching and writing the essay be a valuable learning experience, but the shortlisted candidates will be invited to Oxford to join with other talented young people who have thought carefully about the same question, for a unique series of precepts under the experienced leadership of an academic expert."

Martin Cox, Director of the John Locke Institute

Q. I missed the registration deadline. May I still register or submit an essay?

A. No. Only candidates who registered before 31 May will be able to submit an essay this year. 

Q. Are footnote s, endnotes, a bibliography or references counted towards the word limit?

A. No. Only the body of the essay is counted. However, you may not use footnotes: please use endnotes instead. 

Q. Are in-text citations counted towards the word limit? ​

A. If you are using an in-text based referencing format, such as APA, your in-text citations are included in the word limit.

Q. Should citations be footnotes or in-text citations? ​

A. We do not allow footnotes. Please use in-text citations or endnotes

Q. Is it necessary to include foo tnotes or endnotes in an essay? ​

A. You  may not  include footnotes, but you may include endnotes. You should give your sources of any factual claims you make, and you should ackn owledge any other authors on whom you rely.​

Q. I submitted my essay before the rule about footnotes was changed. I've used footnotes so my essay does not comply with the prohibition of their use. What should I do?

A. Nothing. You will not be penalized in any way. As long as you followed the rules as they were when you submitted your essay, your essay has been accepted and is being considered like any other.  

Q. I am interested in a question that seems ambiguous. How should I interpret it?

A. You may interpret a question as you deem appropriate, clarifying your interpretation if necessary. Having done so, you must answer the question as directly as possible.

Q. How strict are  the age eligibility criteria?

A. Only students whose nineteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2023 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. In the case of the Junior category, only students whose fifteenth birthday falls after 30 June 2023 will be eligible for a prize or a commendation. 

Q. May I submit more than one essay?

A. Yes, you may submit as many essays as you please in any or all categories.

Q. If I am eligible to compete in the Junior category, may I also (or instead) compete in another category?

A. Yes, you may.

Q. May I team up with someone else to write an essay?  

A. No. Each submitted essay must be entirely the work of a single individual.

Q. May I use AI, such as ChatGPT or the like, in writing my essay?

A. All essays will be checked for the use of AI. If we find that any content is generated by AI, your essay will be disqualified. We will also ask you, upon submission of your essay, whether you used AI for  any  purpose related to the writing of your essay, and if so, you will be required to provide details. In that case, if, in our judgement, you have not provided full and accurate details of your use of AI, your essay will be disqualified. 

Since any use of AI (that does not result in disqualification) can only negatively affect our assessment of your work relative to that of work that is done without using AI, your safest course of action is simply not to use it at all. If, however, you choose to use it for any purpose, we reserve the right to make relevant judgements on a case-by-case basis and we will not enter into any correspondence. 

Q. May I have someone else edit, or otherwise help me with, my essay?

A. You may of course discuss your essay with others, and it is perfectly acceptable for them to offer general advice and point out errors or weaknesses in your writing or content, leaving you to address them.

However, no part of your essay may be written by anyone else. This means that you must edit your own work and that while a proofreader may point out errors, you as the essayist must be the one to correct them. 

Q. Do I have to attend the awards ceremony to win a prize? ​

A. Nobody is required to attend the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to Oxford. But if we invite you to Oxford it is because your essay was good enough - in the opinion of the First Round judges - to be at least a contender for First, Second or Third Prize. Normally the Second Round judges will agree that the short-listed essays are worth at least a commendation.

Q. Is there an entry fee?

A. No. There is no charge to enter our global essay competition unless you submit your essay after the normal deadline, in which case there is a fee of 20.00 USD .

Q. Can I receive a certificate for my participation in your essay competition if I wasn't shortlisted? 

A. No. Certificates are awarded only for shortlisted essays. Short-listed contestants who attend the award ceremony in Oxford will receive a paper certificate. If you cannot travel to Oxford, you will be able to download your eCertificate.

Q. Can I receive feedba ck on my essay? 

A. We would love to be able to give individual feedback on essays but, unfortunately, we receive too many entries to be able to comment on particular essays.

Q. The deadline for publishing the names of short-listed essayists has passed but I did not receive an email to tell me whether I was short-listed.

A. Log into your account and check "Shortlist Status" for (each of) your essay(s).


Q. The system will not accept my essay. I have checked the filename and it has the correct format. What should I do?  

A. You have almost certainly added a space before or after one of your names in your profile. Edit it accordingly and try to submit again.

Q. The profile page shows my birth date to be wrong by a day, even after I edit it. What should I do?

A. Ignore it. The date that you typed has been correctly input to our database. ​ ​

Q. How can I be sure that my registration for the essay competition was successful? Will I receive a confirmation email?

A. You will not receive a confirmation email. Rather, you can at any time log in to the account that you created and see that your registration details are present and correct.


If you are unable to submit your essay to the John Locke Institute’s global essay competition, your problem is almost certainly one of the following.

If so, please proceed as indicated.

1) PROBLEM: I receive the ‘registrations are now closed’ message when I enter my email and verification code. SOLUTION. You did not register for the essay competition and create your account. If you think you did, you probably only provided us with your email to receive updates from us about the competition or otherwise. You may not enter the competition this year.

2) PROBLEM I do not receive a login code after I enter my email to enter my account. SOLUTION. Enter your email address again, checking that you do so correctly. If this fails, restart your browser using an incognito window; clear your cache, and try again. Wait for a few minutes for the code. If this still fails, restart your machine and try one more time. If this still fails, send an email to [email protected] with “No verification code – [your name]” in the subject line.


3) PROBLEM: The filename of my essay is in the correct format but it is rejected. SOLUTION: Use “Edit Profile” to check that you did not add a space before or after either of your names. If you did, delete it. Whether you did or did not, try again to submit your essay. If submission fails again, email [email protected] with “Filename format – [your name]” in the subject line.

4) PROBLEM: When trying to view my submitted essay, a .txt file is downloaded – not the .pdf file that I submitted. SOLUTION: Delete the essay. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “File extension problem – [your name]” in the subject line.

5) PROBLEM: When I try to submit, the submission form just reloads without giving me an error message. SOLUTION. Log out of your account. Open a new browser; clear the cache; log back in, and resubmit. If resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “Submission form problem – [your name]” in the subject line.

6) PROBLEM: I receive an “Unexpected Error” when trying to submit. SOLUTION. Logout of your account; log back in, and resubmit. If this resubmission fails, email [email protected] with “Unexpected error – [your name]” in thesubject line. Your email must tell us e xactly where in the submission process you received this error.

7) PROBLEM: I have a problem with submitting and it is not addressed above on this list. SOLUTION: Restart your machine. Clear your browser’s cache. Try to submit again. If this fails, email [email protected] with “Unlisted problem – [your name]” in the subject line. Your email must tell us exactly the nature of your problem with relevant screen caps.


Do not email us before you have tried the specified solutions to your problem.

Do not email us more than once about a single problem. We will respond to your email within 72 hours. Only if you have not heard from us in that time may you contact us again to ask for an update.

If you email us regarding a problem, you must include relevant screen-shots and information on both your operating system and your browser. You must also declare that you have tried the solutions presented above and had a good connection to the internet when you did so.

If you have tried the relevant solution to your problem outlined above, have emailed us, and are still unable to submit before the 30 June deadline on account of any fault of the John Locke Institute or our systems, please do not worry: we will have a way to accept your essay in that case. However, if there is no fault on our side, we will not accept your essay if it is not submitted on time – whatever your reason: we will not make exceptions for IT issues for which we are not responsible.

We reserve the right to disqualify the entries of essayists who do not follow all provided instructions, including those concerning technical matters.

Open Every Day from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


History Contest

Visit the hershey story museum in hershey, pa.

The Hershey Story, The Museum on Chocolate Avenue

history essay writing competition 2022


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Our History in Your Words

The Purpose of The Hershey Story History Contest for Young Writers

The Hershey Story offers this writing contest as a way to encourage students to communicate their interest in and knowledge of history in a creative and coherent manner. Awards are presented in support and acknowledgement of students’ efforts and for public recognition of their success.

View the Winning Entries from the 2022-2023 History Contest for Young Writers Here

Entry information.

Entries must be submitted here  beginning November 1, 2023.

Contest Opening Date and Deadline

Students may submit History Contest entries beginning November 1, 2023.  The deadline for submission of entries to the 2023-2024 contest is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 15, 2024.


Any Pennsylvania student enrolled in public, private or homeschool, grades 5 through 8, in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry or York County is eligible to submit one entry to the contest.

Entries must be the work of one individual student and a student may submit only one entry .

Each entry must be the original work of the contest entrant, but may also have been submitted as an assigned school project as long as it fulfills the requirements below.

Age Division

  • Grades 5 and 6, Junior
  • Grades 7 and 8, Senior

We suggest that entrants use the MLA format. For guidance, consult a website such as www.easybib.com (Please note that not all bibliography formatting may be preserved during the online submission process.)

Students may submit an entry in one of the following categories:

  • Non-fiction: An essay about a historical event, era or person(s). The entry must include an explanation of the student’s personal interest in the chosen topic. For example, the student may include examples of personal experiences that influenced the choice of topic, or books, classroom activities, or travel experiences that sparked the student’s interest.
  • Fiction: A piece of creative writing, such as a fictional diary or story, about a historical event, era or person(s).
  • Poetry: A poem about a historical event, era or person(s).
  • Science/Health: A non-fiction essay about a historical science or historical health-related event, era or person(s). The entry must include an explanation of the student’s personal interest in the chosen topic. For example, the student may include examples of personal experiences that influenced the choice of topic, or books, classroom activities, or travel experiences that sparked the student’s interest.

Essay entries must be at least 400 words but no more than 1000 words. Poems must be at least 35 lines but no more than 100 lines.

Please indicate paragraphs by either indenting the first line or adding an extra line between paragraphs. The form will allow the use of bold and italics . The entry form will strip any special characters or fonts that are used when the entry is submitted online.

Student & School Information

To complete the entry form, the following information is required. Please assemble required information before beginning the entry process.

  • Title of Entry
  • Category (Non-fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Science/Health)
  • Name of Contest Entrant
  • Home Address
  • Parent’s Email
  • Home Phone Number
  • Teacher’s Name
  • Teacher’s Email


A bibliography must be included with each entry (including poetry). The bibliography is not included in the word count. A least two (2) of the following types of sources must be cited:

  • Magazine/Journal article
  • Interview (oral or video)
  • Internet (please include complete URL)

Students must use at least one source that is not from the Internet.

Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Evidence of an understanding of the historical context surrounding the event, era, or person(s) discussed in the entry
  • Historical accuracy
  • Clarity and coherence
  • Creativity and imagination in the choice of subject and presentation.
  • Grammar, spelling and compositional structure

Judging Committee

The judging panel includes historians, educators and other community leaders who are not employed by The Hershey Story. The decisions of the judges are final.

Eight (8) first place and eight (8) second place awards will be given in the following categories:

  • Grades 5/6: Non-Fiction
  • Grades 5/6 Fiction
  • Grades 5/6 Poetry
  • Grades 5/6 Science/Health
  • Grades 7/8: Non-Fiction
  • Grades 7/8: Fiction
  • Grades 7/8: Poetry
  • Grades 7/8: Science/Health

1 st place winners receive:

  • 1 st place certificate
  • One year family membership to The Hershey Story Museum
  • Hershey’s Chocolate gift basket and 30 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars to share with winner’s class (donated by The Hershey Company)
  • Two 1-day tickets to Hersheypark (donated by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company)

2 nd place winners receive:

  • 2 nd place certificate
  • A 1 lb Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar (donated by The Hershey Company)

Winning students will be notified in the spring.  All  honorable mention students will be notified in a timely fashion.  


By entering the contest, participants grant permission to The Hershey Story to publish winning entries and/or winners’ names and photographs for publicity purposes.

The Hershey Story – Background

The Hershey Story is a non-profit educational institution founded in 1933 by Milton S. Hershey. He believed in providing educational and cultural opportunities for Hershey residents and the Central Pennsylvania region. In keeping with Mr. Hershey’s philosophy, the museum is dedicated to helping people of all ages understand and enjoy many aspects of history.

For Further Information Contact Susan Hetrick, Supervisor of Education & Public Programs @ 717-520-5587 or email [email protected] .

Enter the History Contest for Young Writers here beginning November 1, 2023.

The Hershey Story is a non-profit educational institution founded in 1933 by Milton S. Hershey who believed in providing educational and cultural opportunities for the people of Hershey and the Central Pennsylvania region. In keeping with Mr. Hershey’s philosophy, The Hershey Story is dedicated to helping people of all ages understand and enjoy many aspects of history.

Visit the Museum Shop

World Historian Student Essay Competition

Congratulations to Joshua Hangartner of La Jolla Country Day School, the winner of the 2023 World Historian Student Essay Competition for his essay, "World History: A Vehicle for Understanding Ourselves."

2023 World Historian Student Essay Competition Winner: Joshua Hangartner (La Jolla Country Day School)

  • The WHA is pleased to announce that Joshua Hangartner of La Jolla Country Day School (La Jolla, CA) is the winner of the 2023 World Historian Essay Competition for his outstanding essay, "World History: A Vehicle for Understanding Ourselves." Focusing on its broad and deep complexities, Mr. Hangartner ably demonstrates how World History's vast and complex scope connects us personally to the sweeping historical themes that shaped the present day and serves as a "uniquely powerful tool" that allows us to discover ourselves in an incredibly complicated world. Congratulations, Joshua!

The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international competition open to students enrolled in grades  K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs. Membership in the World History Association is not a requirement for submission. Past winners may not compete in the same category again.  Finalist essays will be checked against AI internet components and will be automatically disqualified should stock answers be detected.

The World History Association established this $500 prize to recognize young scholars. A one-year membership in the WHA will also be included with each prize.

Each competitor will submit an essay that addresses one of the following topics and discuss how it relates to you personally and to World History:  Your view of a family story related to a historical event or your personal family cultural background, or an issue of personal relevance or specific regional history/knowledge, such as "My ancestor walked with Abraham Lincoln from Illinois to fight in the Black Hawk War of 1832." 

The committee will judge papers according to the following criteria:

  • clear thesis;
  • elaboration on the thesis with specific, concrete, personal example(s);
  • evidence of critical-thinking, such as synthesis and evaluation, when reflecting on the essay question;
  • organization and fluency; and
  • overall effectiveness of the student’s ability to communicate his or her personal connection with the study of world history—in other words, how well has the student described the experience of being changed by a better understanding of world history?

To view some of our past winning essays, please click on the links below.

2023 Paper Prize Winner

2019 Paper Prize Winner

2018 Paper Prize Winner

2017 Paper Prize Winner


Length & format.

Length:  Submissions for the  K–12  World Historian Award should be approximately 1,000 words.

Formatting:  Number all pages except for the title page. All pages are to be double-spaced. Use 12-point Times New Roman Font. Margins are to be 1 inch left and right, and top and bottom.

Submissions must be composed in Microsoft Word.

The author’s identity is to appear nowhere on the paper.

A separate, unattached page should accompany the paper, identifying the author, title of paper, home address, telephone number, e-mail address, and name of school.

Papers that do not adhere to these guidelines will be disqualified.

Entries must be emailed or postmarked by the annual deadline of 1 May.

Winning papers will be announced during the summer.

The  WHA  reserves the right to publish in the  World History Bulletin  any essay (or portion thereof) submitted to the competition. It will do so solely at its discretion, but full acknowledgment of authorship will be given. If someone’s essay is published in whole or in part, the author will receive three (3) copies of the  Bulletin.

E-mail submission

Send the following materials as separate attachments (formatted in  MS  Word) in the same e-mail, with the subject line  World Historian Student Essay :

  • the paper, and
  • a page with identifying information (author, title of paper, home address, telephone number, e-mail address, and name of school).

E-mail to:  Susan Smith <[email protected]> .

Postal submission

Send five copies of the paper and five copies of the page with identifying information. In the lower left hand corner on the front of the envelope write:  World Historian Student Essay.

Susan Smith Maple Grove Senior High 9800 Fernbrook Lane  N. Maple Grove,  MN  55369-9747


  • Susan Smith, chair
  • Paul Richgruber


  • Joshua Hangartner, La Jolla Country Day School (La Jolla, CA) "World History: A Vehicle for Understanding Ourselves"
  • Amanda Zhao, Pacific Ridge School (Carlsbad, CA) “History: An Ode to the Bricks of Progress”
  • Akram Elkouraichi, Yonkers Middle High School (Yonkers, NY) “The Realization of Impermanence: Ephemerality in World History as a Conceptual Framework”
  • Steven Chen, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School (Vancouver, BC, Canada) “A Human Story: World History as an Optimist”
  • Juliana Boerema, Cary Christian School (Cary, North Carolina) “Brilliant Painting: How the Study of World History Changes Perspective”
  • Ahmad Aamir, Lahore Grammar School (Lahore, Pakistan) “Learning from History: Cooperation, Belief, Scholarship, & Words”
  • Vivian Liu, International School of Beijing (Beijing, China) “History: Bread of the World”
  • Vanessa Yan, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School (Bradenton, Florida) “World History: The Great Macroscope”
  • Rachel Hughes, Webber Academy (Calgary, Canada), “Fostering a Universal Understanding of World History is the Key to a Brighter Tomorrow”
  • Campbell Munson, The Episcopal School of Dallas, “How History Has Affected My Worldview: Economies, Migration, Causality and Disease”
  • Jacob Cooper, North Oconee High School (Bogart, Georgia), “World History: The Basis for Self-Determination, Democracy, and Religion“
  • Luke J. Hamilton, Sword Academy (Bridgeport, Nebraska), “The Present: Living History”
  • David Kim, Wydown Middle School ( St.  Louis), “History: The Shadow of the World”
  • Elizabeth Mello, Dartmouth High School (Dartmouth, Massachusetts), “Out of Many Threads, One Cloth”

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Awards Sample banner EXCERPT

  • Department of History

History essay competition

The Department of History's essay competition for 2023-2024 is now open! The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday 26th April. We aim to inform all entrants of the outcome of the competition by the end of May 2024. We are proud to sponsor this Y12/L6 History essay prize competition.

Student writing in a book

Our essay competition is open to Year 12 or Lower Sixth history students from schools and colleges anywhere in the UK.

There is a prize of £100 for the winning essay, and two runners-up essays will receive a prize of £25 each.

The intention behind the prize is:

  • to give History A Level students an opportunity to write about a topic that interests them
  • to encourage them to develop independent study skills
  • to provide schools and colleges with a 'stretch and challenge' exercise for their most talented students
  • to recognise the talents of aspiring history students

Essays must be on topics in our essay question title list.

You can view an example of a previous winning essay here .

Please read the full criteria below.

  • essays should be no more than 1500 words in length, including footnotes but excluding any bibliography
  • essays must be on a topic chosen from the essay question title list below
  • essays must not be on a topic that entrants have studied in the year they are applying to the competition
  • entrants must be in Y12 or Lower 6th and must be studying A Level History, or equivalent. We can only accept essays from entrants who are based in the UK and study at a UK-based school or college  
  • a maximum of two applications per school/college per year are permitted

The assessors will be looking for essays that:  

  • provide a broad historical context 
  • show awareness of the changes in historiography 
  • use a range of sources (primary and/or secondary) 
  • are analytical, not descriptive 
  • are written in clear, continuous prose, correctly spelled and punctuated
  • demonstrate an understanding of differing interpretations of history and reach a substantiated conclusion. 
  • How ‘Roman’ was the Roman Empire? 
  • Was Alfred the Great great? 
  • How complete was the Norman Conquest? 
  • Were the Vikings primarily traders or raiders? 
  • How central were religious imperatives in the Spanish Conquest? 
  • How important is it to reframe the English Civil War as a war of three kingdoms? 
  • Why did England become involved in the Atlantic slave-trade during the seventeenth century? 
  • Can historians ever truly understand the experiences and perspectives of enslaved African Americans? 
  • Does childhood have a history? 
  • ‘The most important consequences of the French Revolution were in Haiti’. Discuss. 
  • Was the First World War the first ‘global’ conflict? 
  • Did women have a political voice in Britain before 1918? 
  • Is it fair to call Stalin a ‘new tsar’?  
  • Evaluate the roles of women in the Third Reich.
  • Should historians extend the chronological boundaries of the American Civil Rights Movement beyond the 1950s and the 60s? 
  • Did Mao Zedong lay the foundation for China’s rapid development?
  • Did 1960s Britain experience a cultural revolution?
  • ‘South African apartheid was ended not by the decisions of a few great men, but by the actions of ordinary people.’ Do you agree with this interpretation? 
  • Why did all the ‘insane asylums’ close in Britain? 
  • What can historians learn from the humour of past societies?

How to apply:

Deadline for the 2023-24 competition: 5pm, friday 26 april 2024.

  • No more than two applications can be received per school and college, so you should speak to your teacher before submission.
  • To submit your essay, please complete the Google form found here . 
  • The Google form will prompt you to submit the essay via a Dropbox link.
  • Please ensure once you've submitted the essay via the Dropbox link, you return to, and complete the Google form to ensure your submission is received by us.

We plan to be in touch with applicants to let them know the outcome of their application by the end of May 2024. We will keep applicants up-to-date if there are any delays with this timeline

If you have any questions, or issues, please get in touch with us at  [email protected] .

Good luck to all applicants!

Due to the number of entries we get from across the UK, please note that we are unfortunately unable to provide feedback on unsuccessful entries. 

Related information

Our work with schools and colleges

We offer a generous package of financial support for international students including 75 undergraduate scholarships worth £10,000 towards the annual tuition fee and 125 postgraduate taught scholarships worth £5,000 towards the tuition fee. Applications are now open for existing offer holders.

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Resources from the Essay Prizes 2022

Last year, we ran a programme of structured advice and guidance webinars to support students entering the Essay Prize Competition. Reviewing this programme will give you the opportunity to improve your essay writing skills, get the tools for developing a strong essay, and get a sneak peak of university-level study.

The recorded webinars can be found here;

  • Recorded on Friday 14 th January 2022 (5-6pm): Help Getting Started
  • Recorded on Thursday 17 th February 2022 (5-6pm): Writing your Essay
  • Recorded on Thursday 24 th February 22 (5-6pm): Perfecting your Essay

The password for each recording was provided in your results email. Please email [email protected] for the password if you did not enter the 2022 competition.

Take a look at our ‘ Hints & Tips For Aspiring Essayists’ guide, written by Newnham staff and students! You can also read last year’s winning entries for each subject below.


  1. How to Write a Self Portrait Essay?

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  8. Oxford and Cambridge Essay Competitions

    2020 Questions: E.g. Can one write a history of women in Ancient Greece? · The competition carries a First Prize of £600, and second prize of £400 both to be

  9. The Hershey Story History Contest

    View the Winning Entries from the 2022-2023 History Contest for Young Writers Here.

  10. World Historian Student Essay Competition

    © 2022 Copyright: The World History Association.

  11. 2022 CNO Naval History Essay Contest

    The Chief of Naval Operations invites entrants to submit an essay that applies lessons from throughout naval history.

  12. History essay competition

    We are proud to sponsor this Y12/L6 History essay prize competition. Student writing in a book. Off. Our essay

  13. Resources from the Essay Prizes 2022

    ... Essay Prize Competition. Reviewing this programme will give you the opportunity to improve your essay writing skills, get the tools for developing a strong

  14. Humanities Writing Competition

    Essays or creative responses (such as dramatic monologues or short stories) are equally welcome. We are looking for the ability to connect different areas of