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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 questions for the 2024 competition are available here.

Format: Essays can be up to 3,000 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.  There is no recommended referencing or bibliographic style – use whatever format you think works best.  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. To be eligible, you must be in your penultimate year of school. That is, to be eligible for the 2024 competition, you should be expecting to receive your final school results in the year from September 2024 to August 2025. This condition is held to strictly and, to be fair to the participants, no exceptions are made.  Each entrant to the competition is allowed to submit only one essay.

Submissions: Essays must be submitted by 12 noon (UK time) on Thursday 1 August 2024.  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.  We award on average 8 special commendations each year and 40 additional commendations. Winners and recipients of special commendations 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 Dr Glen Rangwala by email to:

About you

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About your school

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Your Entry

Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, Max. file size: 2 MB.
1. I hereby agree that for educational/non-commercial purposes the College may use the essay I submit (‘Essay’) (with due acknowledgement of my authorship) for the full period of copyright, including all renewals, reversions, extensions and revivals of such period, for the purpose of storing, publishing or transmitting the Essay in College internal archives and databases. 2. The information provided in this form is used for the administration of the R.A. Butler Prize and is managed and stored in accordance with UK Data Protection regulations 3. This agreement shall be governed in all respects by English law.
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Past Prize-winners


1st Prize: John Paul Cheng (Winchester College, Winchester)
2nd Prize: Fela Callahan (Harris Westminster Sixth Form, London)


1st Prize: Eunju Seo (North London Collegiate School Jeju, Republic of Korea)
2nd Prize: Luke Grierson (High Storrs School, Sheffield)


1st Prize: Saumya Nair (Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire)
2nd Prize (joint): Liyana Eliza Glenn (Home-schooled, UK)
2nd Prize (joint):  Amr Hamid (St Paul’s School, London)


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)

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