Linguistics Essay Prize

This is an annual Linguistics competition for Year 12 (Lower 6th) students. The Essay Prize aims to raise awareness of the systematic study of language as an interesting and multifaceted subject in and of itself. It is hoped that the Prize will encourage students with an interest in linguistics to explore this further and to apply for a University course in this subject. In addition, the Prize aims to recognise the achievements of high-calibre students from whatever background they may come, as well as the achievements of those who teach them.

The competition is open to all students with an interest in how language works regardless of the specific subjects they are currently studying at A-Level (or similar qualification). For example, it may be of interest to students taking A-Levels in Modern Languages, English Language or Classics, but also to students taking Psychology or Mathematics.

The 2017 competition has closed.  The topic for the 2018 competition will be published here in February 2018.

The following academic webpages  contain a lot of useful information:  (section 2)

Candidates are invited to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 2,500 words. Essays should be submitted both in hard and electronic form. Hard copies to be sent to:

Linguistics Essay Prize, Ms Stacey Smith, Admissions Administrator, Trinity College, Cambridge, CB2 1TQ

Electronic copies (in PDF or Microsoft Word compatible format) to be sent to:

Both copies should arrive by the deadline of 1 August. Those submitting an essay should also complete a cover sheet to be attached to their submission. All candidates will be notified with the results of the competition by early September.

Any queries should be directed to Dr Napoleon Katsos at

The competition carries a First Prize of £600, to be split equally between the candidate and his or her school or college, and a Second Prize of £300, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college. The school or college’s portion of each prize will be issued in the form of book tokens with which to buy linguistics books. In addition, up to three further essays of a high quality will be commended.

Past Prize Winners


  • 1st Prize: Julia Southern-Wilkins (Bedford Girls’ School)
  • 2nd Prize: Martha Birtles (Holy Cross College, Bury)


  • 1st Prize: Shefali Chander (Westminster School)
  • 2nd Prize: David Fenton-Smith (High Storrs School)


  • Joint 1st Prize: Olivia Bonsall (Holy Cross College, Bury)
  • Joint 1st Prize: Georgina Connors (The British School of Paris)
  • 2nd Prize: Kirsty Bailey (Croydon High School)