OxBright Essay Competition 2024

Test your academic skills with the OxBright Essay Competition. Designed for bright 15-18 year olds, the competition will challenge you to go beyond the school curriculum and think about the future of your subject.

Think big, stretch yourself – and stand out from the crowd when the time comes to apply to university.

Applications for the Spring 2024 Essay Competition are now closed. Check back soon to see details of future competitions.

person's hands, which have been painted with a world map on them

At OxBright, we’re passionate about giving you the edge to succeed, find your purpose and make a difference in the world.

We’re optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead and about the potential of young people to make the most of them (read more about our Worldview).

The OxBright Essay Competition gives you the chance to think about the future, challenge yourself beyond the school curriculum, and consider your subject through a wider lens.

All shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend one of our Online Conferences free of charge, and there are a variety of prestigious prizes for the winners.

We look forward to reading your submission!

Applications for Spring 2024 are now closed. See below for details of the winners.

To be the first to hear about future Essay Competitions, please register your interest here.

Essay Question 2024

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

How does collaboration in [your subject] support social impact and innovation? Discuss how working together is essential when addressing global challenges and creating meaningful change.





 Computer Science & Coding

 Writing & Journalism











Watch our Explainer Video

How Our Essay Competition Works

Submit Your Entry

Research and write your essay and then submit it, along with your references, via our short form below.

Entries close at 9pm UK time on 15th April 2024!


Next Steps

We’ll be in touch within two weeks of your entry to let you know whether you’ve been shortlisted. The first 1,000 shortlisted entrants are invited to attend one of our Conferences, free of charge.

Awards Ceremony

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to attend our Awards Ceremony in May 2024, where the winners will be announced.

Over £100,000 Worth of Academic Prizes

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Free Conference place

The first thousand students who are successfully shortlisted will be awarded a free place at one of our OxBright Conferences (worth £95) in the autumn. Alternatively, you can put this credit towards an Online Course or Online Internship.

Awards Ceremony

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to attend our online Awards Ceremony in May 2024, where the winners will be announced.

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Award Winners

Awards include:

  • Most Outstanding Essay (prize: a place on our sister organisation, the Oxford Scholastica Academy’s residential Oxford Summer School in 2025, worth £6,995)
  • Best Essay for each subject category (prize: a place on an OxBright Online Course or Online Internship, worth £995)
  • Highly Commended (for the the top 20% of entries, who will receive a Certificate of Achievement)


Meet the Previous Winners

The question sparked a really interesting chain of thought for me – I feel quite strongly that study of history is important both from an academic and practical perspective, and this question gave me the opportunity to explore that in depth.


Winner, History, 2023

I’m both thrilled and flabbergasted at the outcome of the competition.

Winning this competition undoubtedly made me feel much more confident in researching and writing in my field from now on, opening a lot of new doors for me!


Winner, Psychology, 2023

I’m very happy and grateful to win such a meaningful competition. I truly learned a lot.

My advice to anyone considering entering is to try to think deeper and further about your chosen topic.


Winner, Philosophy, 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Entering the Essay Competition

How will entering the OxBright Essay Competition help me in the future?
Our Essay Competition is designed to give you the chance to think about the future, challenge yourself beyond the school curriculum, and consider your subject through a wider lens.

You’ll be able to mention the essay you’ve written in your university applications as proof of your passion for your subject – and you’ll develop clarity about your future direction and ambitions.

Why do you run an essay competition?

OxBright is about giving students the edge to help them to succeed, find their purpose and make a difference in the world.

We think it’s the greatest time to be alive, but we’re aware that young people face challenges their predecessors didn’t. We’re passionate about encouraging students to be optimistic about the future by being active thinkers interested in collaborating to create a better future for the long-term. You can read more about this in our Worldview.

Our essay competition combines these two elements – encouraging students to think actively about the future, and giving them tools to help them to succeed.

Who can enter?

Anyone can enter – the only eligibility criteria is that you must be aged between 15-18. You don’t need to have previously joined an OxBright programme in order to take part.

Kindly be aware that to be eligible to take up any of the free places offered as prizes, such as our online courses/internships, winning students must be between the ages of 15 and 18 at the commencement of the programme.

Can I write more than one essay?

Sorry, we only accept one essay per student in each Essay Competition. This is due to the volume of essays we receive.

Can I enter jointly with a friend?

No, we can only accept entries from individuals, and it’s important to make sure that your work is entirely your own.

Is there a fee to enter the OxBright Essay Competition?

No, the essay competition is completely free to enter.

When is the entry deadline?

The deadline has been extended, and is now the 15th April 2024, at 9pm.

Are you connected to any university?

No, OxBright is an independent education organisation which is not connected to any university.

Where can I see the results of the Essay Competition 2023?

You can see the results of our previous Essay Competition, including the winning essay in full, here.

Writing Your Essay

What are the subject categories I can enter for?
You can see the list of subjects here.
How long should my essay be?

There are three parts to the essay:

  • Essay title: the title of your essay can be up to 100 characters long, including spaces
  • Essay: your essay can have up to 3,800 characters, including spaces (this is about 500 words). This includes everything you write, like the main text and in-text citations. In-text citations are little notes you put in your essay to show where your information came from. For example, if you quote something from a book by John Smith, you would add (Smith, 2010, p. 50) right after the quote. These citations are part of your word count, so make sure to include them
  • References: as for references, there’s no word limit – you can include as many as you need! These are important for showing where your information came from. Please use the Harvard Referencing Style for your references (you can find how to do this in the guidelines provided here). This won’t count towards your essay character limit, so please list all the sources you used


What are the evaluation criteria?

We’ll be assessing essays on the following criteria:

  • Fluency of written English
  • Relevance to the question
  • Coherence
  • Creativity and originality of ideas
  • Use of evidence or examples
  • Relevance to the OxBright Worldview


Should I use references?

Please make sure to include references to your sources, using the Harvard Referencing Style (guidelines here).

What makes a good essay?

Make sure to read our criteria carefully (you can find it in the FAQ above).

We want essays that are thoroughly researched, packed with examples and solid evidence. What really catches our attention are essays with unique analysis. So, we’re not just interested in essays that simply describe things – we want your thoughts, analysis, and fresh ideas.

Don’t forget, it’s crucial to use and mention trustworthy sources for the evidence you provide.

Do you accept personal or descriptive essays?

We’re looking for clear, concise and compelling answers to the question above, written and formatted in an academic style. Please don’t submit personal essays or creative writing samples.

What Happens Next?

When will I hear the results?

We’ll be in touch within two weeks of your entry to let you know whether or not you’ve been shortlisted (all entrants who meet our core standards of relevance and coherence will be shortlisted).

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to our Awards Ceremony in May 2024, when the winners in each subject category will be announced.

How are essays assessed?

You can read about the criteria we use to assess your essay in the FAQ above (“What are the evaluation criteria?”).

Essays are assessed using our proprietary system which combines a mixture of technology and personal assessment. Essays which are deemed to be plagiarised or be written by AI will be rejected and our decision on this is final.

There are two stages to our assessment process:

Our first stage assessment reviews whether the essay is relevant and coherent. If so, your essay will be shortlisted, you will be offered a free place at an OxBright Conference and you will be invited to the Awards Ceremony.

Shortlised essays are then given further assessment by our panel. This includes a review of the References. In the application form, we ask for a the name of a teacher who is familiar with your academic work. If your essay is nominated for an Award, we will ask this teacher to confirm that the essay was genuinely written by you.

What are the prizes?

Please click here for more information about the prizes and awards.

Why is the overall prize a place at Oxford Scholastica in 2025, not 2024?
The Oxford Scholastica 2024 Summer School is likely to be fully booked in April 2024, when the Essay Competition winner will be announced. However, if you win, we’ll be in touch to discuss how to redeem your prize, and if there is still availability for your preferred course and dates, you’d be welcome to join.
Will I receive feedback?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of entries received, we are unable to provide feedback on essays.

Does everyone who enters get a free place at a Conference?

The first thousand students to who make a valid submission and are shortlisted will be invited to attend an OxBright Conference of their choice, free of charge (worth £95). Conference subjects include Business, Medicine, Law and Psychology. It is optional to attend a Conference.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to choose to apply the £95 credit toward another programme with us.

Does everyone receive a certificate?

Only students who win one of the awards receive a certificate. Certificates are issued in online format.

Do you publish the names of the award winners?

Yes, award winners will be published on our website after the Awards Ceremony.

How can I pass on some feedback about the essay competition?
We’d love to hear from you! We’re very open to feedback as we aim to make this Essay Competition as impactful as possible. Please feel free to contact our Co-Director Lavinia here.