The St John’s College Classics and Ancient History Essay Competition will be running for the twelfth time during the academic year 2021/22.
  • Date 3 December 2021 - 11.00 a.m. - 29 April 2022 - 4.00 p.m.
  • Location Virtual
Classics 2021

The competition is open to all students currently studying at a UK School or College, in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) or equivalent, whether or not they are currently studying a Classical or Ancient subject. All entrants will be invited to attend a Study Afternoon at St John’s College, Oxford on one of two dates; Thursday 21st April or Friday 29th April 2022. We are able to cover travel expenses of all students eligible for free school meals or in care.  Each student may submit one essay (only) of up to 2,000 words on any of the following four questions:

  1. ‘No (wo)man is an island.’ How self-sufficient are characters in ancient literature?
  2. Was one’s community in the ancient world limited to one’s city?
  3. Many ancient philosophers emphasised the importance of friendship and community in the good life. What place do you think others have in the happy life?
  4. Does Greek and/or Roman art ever express notions of community, or is it simply a reflection of wealthy and powerful individuals?

 Prizes Awarded:

A £100 book token will be awarded to the best essay in each category and an additional £75 book token to the overall winner. A further £75 book token will be awarded to the best essay submitted by a pupil who has not previously studied a Classical or Ancient subject. All applicants will receive a certificate of entry.

Aims and Guidelines:

The competition gives students currently studying any subjects at a UK School or College, in Year 12 or equivalent, an opportunity to write an essay on the classical world. The organizers are interested in providing an occasion for independent research, to encourage curiosity and reflection in those who have studied the ancient world before and those who have not.

The essay titles have been chosen to take account of research interests of our tutors and to encourage the widest possible approach to investigation of the ancient world.

All primary texts can be considered in translation or in the original language. Where either primary or secondary sources have been used they should be acknowledged with full references given.

All essays should:

  • Be word-processed with double-spaced lines, and saved in a PDF format.
  • Include ONLY your initials and date of birth in your header or footer (to allow anonymous marking).
  • Be no more than 2000 words in length.

To submit your essay, you should:

  • Complete a pre-submission cover form, by following this link. Please note, you will be asked to provide a name and email address for a parent or carer, and a teacher; please confirm this with them prior to submitting your form.
  • Submit your essay via email, as a PDF attachment, to Emails must include your Full name, School name and Date of Birth.

Both the pre-submission cover form and your email must be submitted before 4pm on Thursday 3rd March 2022

To confirm we have received your essay, all pupils who submit an essay will receive a confirmation email shortly after the deadline. If you do not receive a confirmation email within two weeks of the deadline, please email the Access Team.

If you have any outstanding questions, please contact