Essay competitions at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Essay Competitions

The deadline for the 2023 essay competitions has now passed. We aim to release results of all competitions by Wednesday 7th June.

The University of Cambridge seeks out students with a passion for their subject and who have investigated it outside the classroom. Our essay competitions provide students with an opportunity to engage with their interests in this way, allowing them to demonstrate their enthusiasm for their subject.

2023 Competitions

The deadline for the 2023 essay competitions has now passed, and questions for the 2024 essay competitions are expected to be released by November 2023. This previous year's questions, as well as competition rules, can be found below.

Ancient World and Classics


Economics (for state-school UK students only - please see link for details on eligibility)


Land Economy

Medieval World

Architecture – students wishing to enter the Architecture Design Competition may find this plan of Fitzwilliam College and information on the history of Fitzwilliam’s buildings useful

The deadline for all competitions was 6pm on Wednesday 1st March.

Competition rules

These essay competitions are exclusively for students in their penultimate year of education (Year 12 in England and Wales, S5 in Scotland, Year 13 in Northern Ireland). They are open to students in any country but submissions must be written in English.

Submissions should strictly adhere to the word limit set out in the subject brief (2500 words for Archaeology, Classics & Ancient World, History, Land Economy and Medieval World; 1500 words for Economics; 500 words for the Architecture narrative), and contain a bibliography at the end. The word count should exclude the bibliography, but include any footnotes. Each page should be numbered and contain the applicant's full name.

We understand that not all students will have previous experience of writing a bibliography, and may not have equal access to advice on doing so. We therefore include this link to guidance on how to correctly use the Harvard referencing system. Anyone who wishes to use a different referencing system is free to do so.

Students are only permitted to enter one competition and may only submit one entry to that competition. There is a strict limit of five submissions per school for each competition. If more than five students from the same school enter the same competition, a teacher from that school will be contacted and asked to select the five entries; failure to do so will result in all submissions from the school to that competition being disqualified. Please note that this limit does not apply to Sixth Form Colleges where year groups are over 1000 students in size. When submitting an essay, the student will be asked to provide the name and email address of a teacher who may be contacted in order to verify the submission.

The submission must be entirely the individual student's work and must not be submitted or have been submitted to an exam board as part of any coursework or extended essay, either in part or in full.

Submission guidelines

Anyone who wishes to enter an essay competition must complete the online form.

Submissions can be uploaded to the online form in a PDF format. If the file size is too big to upload to the form, please email your submission to We can also accept entries by post. Please address postal submissions to: Schools Liaison Officer, Fitzwilliam College, Storey's Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DG.

You should receive an email confirmation after submitting the form. If you do not receive confirmation within 24 hours, please contact us at the email address below. Any technical difficulties will be dealt with on the next day, and students affected may be allowed to submit late in some circumstances.

Writing Webinars

Students preparing submissions who would like advice on essay writing may wish to seek advice from our two essay writing webinars:

  •  Webinar 1 - Initial Preparation - 12th January 2023 - a recording of this webinar can be found here
  • Webinar 2 - Finalising your Essay - 16th February 2023 - a recording of this webinar can be found here

The webinars are delivered by the Schools Liaison Officer - the first webinar focuses on initial planning, research, and structuring of an academic essay, while the second provides advice on how to finalise arguments, edit, and reference your essays. Please email with any questions about this event. 

Contact us

If you have any questions relating to the competitions please contact us on