R.A. Butler Politics Prize

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 by the beginning of September.

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.

The list of questions is available here, and on the website of the Department of Politics and International Studies, via: http://www.polis.cam.ac.uk/about-us/prizes/r-a-butler-prize

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. Essays should preferably be sent by email to butlerprize@trin.cam.ac.uk. 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 (e.g. Year 12), and the subjects you are studying and to what level (e.g. 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 (i.e. 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 in Year 12 or Lower 6th at the time the questions are released (in the school year 2015-16). Students based abroad are most welcome to participate. They should, however, be in their penultimate year of school.

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 the College to meet some of the teaching staff.

Contact. Any queries from teachers with students who may be interested in submitting work for the prize should be directed to Dr Glen Rangwala by email to: butlerprize@trin.cam.ac.uk.

Past Prize-winners


1st Prize: Silas Edwards (St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, Bristol)
2nd Prize: Eliza Harry (Greene’s Tutorial College, Oxford)


1st Prize: Stephen Horvath (Westminster School, London)
2nd Prize: Grace Elshafei (Sevenoaks School, Kent)


1st Prize: Oscar Alexander-Jones (St Paul’s School, London)
2nd Prize: Sam Maybee (King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham)


1st Prize: Eleanor Shearer (Westminster School)
2nd Prize (joint): Stephanie Clarke (Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School)
2nd Prize (joint): Will Barnes (Manchester Grammar School)


1st Prize: Kiah Ashford-Stow (King Edward VI School, Southampton)
2nd Prize: Jamie Sproul (Stamford School)


1st Prize: Aman Rizvi (Winchester College)
2nd Prize: Frans Robyns (Kings College School, Wimbledon)