St John's College Oxford

Year 12 Classics and Ancient History essay competition

Every year St John's holds a Classics and Ancient History essay competition for students in Year 12.

Entries are now open for the 2018 competition.

The competition is open to all students who are currently studying in Year 12 (or equivalent) anywhere in the UK, and is designed to give students of any subject the opportunity to write an essay on the classical world, whether or not they have studied the ancient world before. Topics include ancient history, archaeology, ancient literature and philosophy.  The essay titles are chosen to take account of the research expertise at St John’s, and to encourage the widest possible approach to investigation of the ancient world. 

Prizes of up to £175 in book tokens will be awarded for the best essays and all entrants will receive a certificate of entry.  Entrants will also be invited to attend a study afternoon at St John’s College on Thursday 19 April 2018.

The deadline for entries is 4pm on Thursday 22 February 2018

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Due to the large number of entries, we are not able to offer feedback on individual essays; instead tutors produce a report which reflects on the previous year's competition. Please find here the Essay Competition Report for 2017. 

2017 Competition results
161 students submitted essays as part of our Classics and Ancient History essay competition 2017. The winners were: 

  • Overall winner and winner in the Literature category: Constance Everett-Pite
  • Winner in the History category:  Nicholas Pymont
  • Winner in the Philosophy category: Charlotte DeLeyser
  • Winner in the Archaeology category: Laura Garratt

The following entrants received a certificate of high commendation for their entries: Rose Grossel, Jan Preiss, Matt Coleclough, James Maskill.

Classics essay competition winners

Studying the ancient world
St John’s offers courses in Classics & Joint Schools, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, and History (Ancient and Modern). We welcome applications from students with and without prior experience of studying the ancient world. 

This essay competition is part of a range of activities offered by the Classics faculty at Oxford. Further information about their work with schools can be found on their Outreach pages.