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 in August.

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 2020 competition has closed.

Format. Essays should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words, including all footnotes and references but excluding 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.  Please include your name on the document and save the file as “Surname, First name”.

Eligibility. The Prize is for students in Year 12 or Lower 6th at the time the questions are released in March.  Students based abroad are most welcome to participate. They should, however, be in their penultimate year of school.  Each entrant to the competition is allowed to submit only one essay.

Submissions: Essays must be submitted by 12 noon (UK time) on 3 August 2020.  Please submit essays using the form below.

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 students who may be interested in submitting work for the prize, or their teachers, should be directed to Mr Nick Devlin by email to: butlerprize@trin.cam.ac.uk.


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How information about you will be used

Your email address will only be used for the purposes of contacting you in regards to your submission . It will not be used for any other reason or given or sold to any other company or organisation.  You will receive a copy of the information you have provided to the email address you specify.

Past Prize-winners


1st Prize: Lydia Allenby (Gosforth Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne)
2nd Prize: Louis Danker (City of London School, London)


1st Prize: Matthew Gursky (Hall Cross, Academy, Doncaster)
2nd Prize: Evie Morgan (Ipswich School, Ipswich)


1st Prize: Gergely Bérces (Milestone Institute, Budapest, Hungary)
2nd Prize (joint): Tatyana Goodwin (Varndean College, Brighton)
2nd Prize (joint): Eloise George (Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge)


1st Prize: Folu Ogunyeye (Aylesbury High School)
2nd Prize: Eve McMullen (Minster School, Southwell)


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)