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2017 R.A. Butler Prize Awarded

last modified Oct 09, 2017 12:19 PM

The R.A. Butler Prize is a competition for essays in Politics and International Studies for students in Year 12 or the Lower 6th. The Prize is jointly organised by Trinity College Cambridge and the Department of Politics and International Studies, and was established in memory of the former Master of Trinity College, Lord Butler.

This year we received an unprecedented 226 entries. The quality of the submitted essays was very high, with most entries thoroughly researched, carefully reasoned and often ambitiously argued. With the competition so intense and the submissions so excellent, the winning essays were consequently of very high calibre.

The 2017 winner of the R.A. Butler Prize is Folu Ogunyeye, from Aylesbury High School, who wrote to the essay question: ‘Is economic globalisation incompatible with national democracy?’

Folu wrote a superb essay on the tensions between two major features of our world. The essay makes excellent use of a wide range of sources and academic literatures, and has a sophisticated sense of arguments and counter-arguments. This was an outstanding, first-rank entry to the competition.

Congratulations to Folu, who received the First Prize of £600, half of which is given in the form of book tokens to her school!

Congratulations also to Eve McMullen from Minster School in Southwell, the winner of the Second Prize, who wrote to the question ‘Are the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit the products of common causes?’ Eve won £400, half of which is given in book tokens to her school.

Eve’s essay presents a careful, nuanced understanding of the two political earthquakes of 2016. It reasons through its points effectively, and is shrewd at engaging critically with many of the commonly aired arguments about Brexit and Trump. This is an incisive, thoroughly impressive piece of work.

Folu and Eve visited Cambridge on Saturday 23rd September and they were joined by seven of eight candidates whose essays received special commendations. Here they are in Trinity College:

2017 R.A. Butler Prize

Pictured (top row, from the left): Joe Heath (The Gryphon School, Sherborne), Oliver Shaw (Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby). Middle row: Asisa Johal (Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham), Adil Arif (Loughborough Grammar School), Elisa Giandomenico (Bilborough College, Nottingham). Bottom row: Sophie West (Sherborne School for Girls), winner of the First Prize, Folu Ogunyeye (Aylesbury High School), winner of the Second Prize, Eve McMullen (Minster School, Southwell), and Ish Tominey-Nevado (St Albans High School for Girls). Not pictured:  Harriet Milner (Exeter School, Exeter) who was sadly unable to join us on the day.

They were invited to join two discussions, which gave them a taste of what seminars at Cambridge can be like. They first considered the process of researching and writing their essays and later discussed with Dr Peter Sloman of POLIS if democracy is now in crisis.

2017 Butler Prize seminar

2017 Butler Prize seminar_1

We certainly hope they had a great time in Cambridge and enjoyed the programme on the day and participating in the R.A. Butler Prize competition.

Last but not least, many thanks to everyone who participated and made the selection process as enjoyable as it was difficult for the prize panel!

The questions for next year's competition will be advertised in March 2018, with a deadline for submitting the essay in August 2018. Any queries from teachers with students who may be interested in submitting work for the prize should be directed via email to butlerprize@trin.cam.ac.uk.