Newnham Essay Prizes

The winners of the 2020 Newnham Essay Prizes will be announced on the 22nd of June.

All female students currently in Year 12 at a UK school may enter the prizes, which are offered in Biological Sciences, Computer Science, Engineering, History, Modern and Medieval Languages, MusicPhilosophy and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, as well as our annual ‘Woolf Essay Prize’ with questions inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

This year, we are pleased to introduce two new essay prizes in Classics and Mathematics.

Each of the Newnham Essay Prizes has a first prize of £400, a second prize of £200 and a third prize of £100.

We welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Each competition has a slightly different word limit, so please consult the questions and information sheet for each of the prizes. All essays must reference sources (including websites consulted) and provide a bibliography.

Students may only submit an essay for one subject. Each school may only submit 5 entries per subject.

The submission deadline for all entries apart from Philosophy is midday on Friday 6 March 2020. Students must complete the following web form, and ensure that they attach both their essay and a cover sheet (blank copy below).

Cover Sheet for all subjects

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our Hints & Tips For Aspiring Essayists guide, written by Newnham staff and students!

You can also read last year’s winning entries for each subject below.

If you have any questions, please email slo@newn.cam.ac.uk.

The Woolf Essay Prize

Woolf Information And Questions 2020

In 1928, Virginia Woolf addressed the Newnham Arts Society on the Subject of ‘Women and Fiction’, and from this talk emerged her seminal text, A Room of One’s Own. Newnham is very proud of its place in the history of women’s education, and we are delighted in the continuation of the Woolf Essay Prize. A Room of One’s Own raises a number of questions surrounding the place of women in society and culture, and the competition allows students to contemplate these themes and ideas while developing the independent research and writing skills essential to university-level study.

This prize may be of particular interest to those studying English Literature, History, Politics, Philosophy or Sociology, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in ‘Woolf Information and Questions 2020’ above, which should be between 1,500 and 2,500 words (including footnotes and captions). All sources must be appropriately acknowledged and cited, and a bibliography – including websites consulted – should be attached (though excluded from the word count). Up to five entries may be submitted per school.

The winning entries from previous competitions can be found below and may be useful as you decide how to answer your chosen question. However, it is to be noted that there are many angles from which to approach each question and those available here are only a limited sample. Good essays will present a clear argument using specific examples, but outside of this many different approaches are welcome.

Find out more about studying English Literature at Cambridge University

Meet Shakespeare scholar Dr Bonnie Lander-Johnson

Winners of the Woolf Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Ariana Rubio
2nd Prize: Hollie Noble
Joint 3rd Prize: Naomi McKeown
Joint 3rd Prize: Clara Wittmann

 

The Biological Sciences Essay Prize

Biological Sciences Information And Questions 2020

This prize may be of particular interest to those studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Biological Sciences Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying Biological Sciences at Cambridge University.

Meet biologist and Director of Studies Dr Barbara Blacklaw.

Winners of the Biological Sciences Essay Prize 2019

Joint 1st Prize: Clodagh Bottomley
Joint 1st Prize: Alexandra O’Callaghan
Joint 3rd Prize: Catherine Coffey
Joint 3rd Prize: Isabella Woodward

The Classics Essay Prize

Classics Information And Questions 2020

The Classics Essay Prize is a new addition to our annual essay prizes. It is designed to give students the opportunity to think and write about the literature, history, society and culture of the ancient Mediterranean and the societies of the Roman and Greek worlds, while developing their independent study and writing skills.

This prize may be of particular interest to those studying classical subjects, including Classical Civilisation, Ancient History, Latin and Greek; but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Classics Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying Classics at Cambridge University.

Meet Newnham classicist Prof Mary Beard

Meet Director of Studies Dr Carol Atack

The Computer Science Essay Prize

Computer Science Information And Questions 2020

This prize may be of particular interest to those studying Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Chemistry, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Computer Science Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying Computer Science at Cambridge University.

Meet computer scientist Luana Bulat

Winners of the Computer Science Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Chloe Wong
2nd Prize: Celeste à Brassard
3rd Prize: Verity Powell

The Engineering Essay Prize

Engineering Information And Questions 2020

Newnham is offering an annual prize for a submission on Engineering, intended to encourage students to think creatively about how some of the scientific knowledge gained at school may be applied in later life, in particular in industry, so as to improve matters (the aim of most engineers). The prize also aims to recognise the achievements of high-calibre students and those who teach them, and also to encourage more girls to study Engineering at University. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Engineering Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying Engineering at Cambridge University

Meet sustainability engineer Dr Claire Barlow

Meet civil engineer Dr Sakthy Selvakumaran

Winners of the Engineering Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Emma Allen
2nd Prize: Deborah Smith
3rd Prize: Natalie Tsang

The History Essay Prize

History Information And Questions 2020

The Newnham History Essay Prize may be of particular interest to those studying History, Politics, English Literature, Philosophy or Sociology, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in ‘History Information and Questions 2020′.

Find out about studying History at Cambridge University

Meet historian of science Dr Emma Perkins

Meet archaeologist Dr Emma Pomeroy

Winners of the History Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Francoise Dyer
2nd Prize: Kirsty Tennant
Joint 3rd Prize: Ines Mubgar-Spencer
Joint 3rd Prize: Ava Smith

The Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Essay Prize

Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Information And Questions 2020

The Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Essay Prize is a new addition to our annual essay prizes. It is named after the former Newnham student who in 1890 was the first woman to obtain the highest mark of all candidates for the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos.

The prize may be of particular interest to those studying Mathematics, Statistics or Further Mathematics but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying Maths at Cambridge University

Meet mathematician Dr Maria Ubiali

The Modern and Medieval Languages Essay Prize

Modern And Medieval Languages Information And Questions 2020

This prize may be of particular interest to those currently studying languages, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Modern and Medieval Languages Information and Questions 2020’. Essays should be written primarily in English.

Find out about studying Languages at Cambridge University

Meet Director of Studies Dr Jenny Mander

Winners of the Modern and Medieval Languages Essay Prize 2019

Joint 1st Prize: Emily Coatsworth
Joint 1st Prize: Natasha Festenstein
2nd Prize: Giulia Moretti
3rd Prize: Katie Pruden

The Music Essay Prize

Music Information And Questions 2020

This prize may be of particular interest to those currently studying Music or History, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects. Entrants are invited to submit a response to any one of the questions set out in the ‘Music Information and Questions 2020’.

Find out about studying music at Cambridge University

Meet music historian Dr Delphine Martin

Find out about music at Newnham

Winners of the Music Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Jemma Jeffery
2nd Prize: Evie Press
3rd Prize: Ella Jackson

The Philosophy Essay Prize

Philosophy Information & Questions 2020

*Please note that this prize has a later submission deadline of 11 May 2020. A teacher’s signature and school stamp are no longer required.*

The Newnham Philosophy Essay Prize is designed to give students the opportunity to think and write about philosophy and philosophical matters in the broadest sense, while developing their independent study and writing skills. This prize may be of particular interest to those either currently studying, or considering studying, Philosophy, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects.

Find out about studying Philosophy at Newnham

Meet philosopher Dr Rae Langton

Winners of the Philosophy Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Sharon Chau


The Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Essay Prize

Psychological And Behavioural Sciences Information And Questions 2020

This prize may be of particular interest to those studying Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, or Sociology, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects.

Find out about studying psychology at Cambridge University

Meet psychologist Prof Claire Hughes 

Winners of the Psychological & Behavioural Sciences Essay Prize 2019

1st Prize: Georgia Hewett
2nd Prize: Michi Aneez
3rd Prize: Melissa Adams