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R.A. Butler Prize

The 2017 competition is now complete. The list of questions that was open to competition entrants is available here, and a report on the awards and an account of the prize essays is here. The questions for next year's competition will be advertised in March 2018, with a deadline for submitting the essay in August 2018.

The R.A. Butler Prize for essays in Politics and International Studies is a competition that can be entered by students in Year 12 or the Lower 6th. 

Candidates are invited to submit an essay on a topic to be chosen from a list of general questions announced in March each year, and to be submitted later in the year.

The Prize is jointly organised by Trinity College Cambridge and Cambridge University’s Department of Politics and International Studies. The Prize was established in memory of the former Master of Trinity College, Lord Butler, who most famously served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and who was responsible for the introduction of free secondary education for all students in the UK.

The objectives of the R.A. Butler Prize are twofold. Firstly, it aims to encourage students with an interest in modern politics and world affairs to think about undertaking university studies in Politics, International Studies or a related discipline; it is not limited to those already studying these subjects or indeed other social sciences. Secondly, its intention is to recognise the achievements both of high-calibre students and of those who teach them.

Format. Essays should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words (not including the bibliography). It's worth considering the use of examples in your essays: the best essays often use a diverse selection of contemporary, historical or literary examples. We encourage you to provide references to your sources of information, and to include a bibliography at the end of the essay.

Submission. Word or PDF file formats are acceptable. It will be helpful if you could name the file with your surname and initial, in the style (for example): <SmithJ.pdf> or <SmithJ.docx>. On the first page of your essay, please include the following information: your name, email address, school name and address, your year at school (eg Year 12), and the subjects you are studying and to what level (eg A-level). Please include a statement of originality: “I confirm that this essay is written in my own words and is the result of my own work. All sources used have been acknowledged in the essay.” Please ‘sign’ that statement (ie put your name, electronically is fine) and put the date on which you are submitting the essay.

If you cannot submit the essay electronically, please post it to R.A. Butler Prize, c/o Dr Glen Rangwala, Trinity College, Cambridge CB2 1TQ.

Eligibility. The Prize is for students who are in Year 12 (or Lower 6th) on the date when the questions are released. Students based abroad are most welcome to participate. They should, however, be in their penultimate year of school when the questions are released.

Prize. The competition carries a First Prize of £600, to be split equally between the candidate and his or her school or college (the school or college’s portion of the prize to be issued in the form of book tokens), and a Second Prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college. Winners will be announced in September, and will be invited to visit Cambridge to meet some of the politics & international relations teaching staff.

Contact. Any queries from teachers with students who may be interested in submitting work for the prize should be directed via email to

2017 winners: 

First Prize: Folu Ogunyeye, Aylesbury High School

Second Prize: Eve McMullen, Minster School, Southwell

Special commendations were awarded to Adil Arif (Loughborough Grammar School), Elisa Giandomenico (Bilborough College, Nottingham), Joseph Heath (The Gryphon School, Sherborne), Asisa Johal (Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham), Harriet Milner (Exeter School, Exeter), Oliver Shaw (Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby), Ish Tominey-Nevado (St Albans High School for Girls) and Sophie West (Sherborne School for Girls).


2016 winners: 
First Prize: Silas Edwards, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, Bristol
Second Prize: Eliza Harry, Greene's Tutorial College, Oxford

2015 winners: 
First Prize: Stephen Horvath, Westminster School, London
Second Prize: Grace Elshafei, Sevenoaks School, Kent

2014 winners:
First Prize: Oscar Alexander-Jones, St Paul's School, London
Second Prize: Sam Maybee, King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham

2013 winners:
First prize: Eleanor Shearer, Westminster School, London
Second prize (joint): Stephanie Clarke, Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, Lancaster
Second prize (joint): Will Barnes, Manchester Grammar School, Manchester

2012 winners:
First prize: Kiah Ashford-Stow, King Edward VI School, Southampton
Second prize: Jamie Sproul, Stamford School, Stamford, Lincolnshire

2011 winners:
First prize: Aman Rizvi, Winchester College, Winchester
Second prize: Frans Robyns, Kings College School, Wimbledon