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Churchill College Philosophy Essay Prize

The exceptional academic talent of Year 12 female students was celebrated by Newnham College at a prestigious ceremony in Cambridge for essay prize-winners.

Newnham College’s annual essay prize competitions are designed to encourage ambitious female sixth-form students to explore university-level subjects and themes and to develop their independent research and writing skills.

A record-breaking number of entries were received from a wide range of schools across eight different categories; Architecture, Biological Sciences, Engineering, History, Modern and Medieval Languages, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, and the Woolf Essay Prize, with questions inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

Virginia Woolf based A Room of One’s Own on a series of lectures she gave at Newnham in 1928.

Winners were selected by a panel of Newnham academics after hundreds of essays were received. Each competition has a prize of £400 for first place, £200 for second place, and £100 for third place.

All of the winners were invited to the women’s college at the heart of Cambridge University on Saturday (June 24) to take part in a special ceremony where they were presented with their prizes by Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College.

The sixth-formers and their families then enjoyed afternoon tea and a chance to meet leading academics from all disciplines.

Dr Sam Lucy, Newnham Admissions Tutor, said: “The field this year was particularly strong, with a record number of entries, and the judges were impressed by the range and quality of the research undertaken by the entrants.

“Whittling that field down to the winners and runners-up of the eight prizes involved some hard decisions, but those chosen are well-deserved winners and should be extremely proud of their achievement.”

It is hoped that exposing the high-flying sixth-formers to the type of work they would be expected to do at Cambridge will encourage them to consider applying to Newnham.

Although it is not part of the admissions process at Newnham, several previous prize-winners are current students.

Questions for the 2018 Essay Prize Competitions will be announced in November 2017.

Read more about the 2017 questions and categories and the entries from the winners.

Photograph caption: Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal and Dr Sam Lucy, Admissions Tutor and Director of Admissions for the University of Cambridge, with the group of Year 12 students who won first prize in each category

The full list of 2017 Essay Prize Winners/Highly Commended/Commended:

Architecture

1st Prize: Poppy Mitchell, The King’s School, Canterbury
2nd Prize: Lucy Dabbs, St Peter’s School, York
3rd Prize: Dorothy Zhang , King Edward VI High School for Girls

Highly Commended: Lydia Cronin (Chichester High School), Lucy Jones (Sandon School), Catherine Sheridan (The Tiffin Girls’ School), Bernice Wong (Cheltenham Ladies College).

Biological Sciences

1st Prize: Amelia Irwin, Sevenoaks School
Joint 2nd Prize: Elina Ganatra, Nottingham Girls’ High School
Joint 2nd Prize: Srishti Agarwal, Aylesbury High School
3rd Prize: Rachel Jones, St Paul’s Girls’ School

Highly Commended: Chloe Palma (Santa Maria del Pilar), Hannah Lin (Hills Rd Sixth Form).

Engineering

1st Prize: Thea Krumins, St Paul’s Girls’ School
2nd Prize: Sita Tailor, Guildford High School
3rd Prize: Tamilore Ayo-Famola, Cheltenham Ladies College

Highly Commended: Alice Ertle (Brighton College), Anna Mills (St Albans School), Amelia Standing (The King’s School, Chester)

Commended: Rosanna Fresen (The King’s (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough), Justine Hong (Wycombe Abbey School), Bridget Whithers (Wycombe Abbey School), Shannen Zeller (The Tiffin Girls’ School).

History

1st Prize: Ashlan Richards, The Tiffin Girls’ School
2nd Prize: Sanjana Gunasekaren, The Grammar School at Leeds
Joint 3RD Prize: Eleanor Graham, Epsom College
Joint 3rd Prize: Helen Markus, Hills Rd Sixth Form

Highly Commended: Helena Heyndrickx, (Alleyns School), Eve McMullen, (Southwell Minster School), Georgia Brown (Wilmslow School).

The Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) Essay Prize

1st Prize: Hemma Jari, Withington Girls’ School
2nd Prize: Effie Webb, Twyford C of E High School
3rd Prize: Mary Osborne, Beauchamp College

Highly Commended: Georgia Findlay (Withington Girls’ School), Daisy Coombes ( Eirias High School), Emma Tinn (The Abbey School, Reading)

Commended: Anna Zakonyi (Oxford High School), Esther Leong (Backwell School).

Philosophy

1st Prize: Cherry Dicko, Hills Rd Sixth Form
2nd Prize: Heléna Vegas Quinn, Stratford Girls’ Grammar School
3rd Prize: Maia Webb, Alleyns School

The Weston-Smith Physical Sciences Essay Prize

1st Prize: Josephine Jones, St Olave’s Grammar School
Joint 2nd Prize: Charlotte Ghali, King Edward’s School, Bath
Joint 2nd Prize: Sarah Walberton, Guildford High School

Highly Commended: Anna Stevenson (St Paul’s Girls’ School), Urvi Sonawane (The Tiffin Girls’ School), Eve Pope Gordano School, Aine McColgan, St Benedict’s Ealing.

Commended: Neha Ramu (The Tiffin Girls’ School) Claudia Chavasse (Withington Girls’ School).

The Woolf Essay Prize

1st Prize: Eleanor Graham, Hitchin Girls’ School
2nd Prize: Charlie Matheson, Kingsbridge Community College
3rd Prize: Georgia Mitchell, Hills Rd Sixth Form

Highly Commended: Kate Lucas (Wimbledon High School), Evie Patel (Kimberley College).

Commended: Florence Anderson (Alleyns School), Suzanne Azim (Coombe Girls’ School), Millie Bloom (Putney High School), Hanna Hughes (The King’s (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough), Eliza Jones (The Latymer School), Cassandra Somers-Joce (Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate), Annabel Stock (Stratford Girls’ Grammar School).

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Poppy Mitchell, from The King’s School, Canterbury, who won the first prize in the Architecture category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Lucy Dabbs, from St Peter’s School, York, who won the second prize in the Architecture category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Dorothy Zhang, from King Edward VI High School for Girls, who won the third prize in the Architecture category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Amelia Irwin, from Sevenoaks School, who won the first prize in the Biological Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Elina Ganatra, from Nottingham Girls’ High School, who won the joint second prize in the Biological Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Srishti Agarwal, from Aylesbury High School, who won the joint second prize in the Biological Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Rachel Jones, from St Paul’s Girls’ School, who won the third prize in the Biological Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Thea Krumins, from St Paul’s Girls’ School, who won the first prize in the Engineering category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Sita Tailor, from Guildford High School, who won the second prize in the Engineering category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Ashlan Richards, from The Tiffin Girls’ School, who won the first prize in the History category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Sanjana Gunasekaran, from The Grammar School at Leeds, who won the joint second prize in the History category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Helen Markus, from Hills Road Sixth Form College, who won the joint third prize in the History category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Eleanor Graham, from Epsom College, who won the joint third prize in the History category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Hemma Jari, from Withington Girls’ School, who won the first prize in the Modern and Medieval Languages category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Effie Webb, from Twyford C of E High School, who won the second prize in the Modern and Medieval Languages  category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Mary Osborne, from Beauchamp College, who won the third prize in the Modern and Medieval Languages category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Cherry Dicko, from Hills Road Sixth Form College, who won the first prize in the Philosophy category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Heléna Quinn, from Stratford Girls’ Grammar School, who won the second prize in the Philosophy category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Maia Webb, from Alleyns School, who won the third prize in the Philosophy category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Josephine Jones, from St Olave’s Grammar School, who won the first prize in the Physical Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Sarah Walberton, from Guildford High School, who won the joint second prize in the Physical Sciences category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Eleanor Graham, from Hitchin Girls’ School, who won the first prize in the Woolf category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Charlie Matheson, from Kingsbridge Community College, who won the second prize in the Woolf category.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, with Georgia Mitchell, from Hills Road Sixth Form College, who won the third prize in the Woolf category.

All of the winners with Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, and Dr Sam Lucy, Admission Tutor at Newnham and Director of Admissions for the University of Cambridge.

All of the Year 12 students who won the first prizes with Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, and Dr Sam Lucy, Admission Tutor at Newnham and Director of Admissions for the University of Cambridge.

Historical documents and photographs from the Churchill Papers Collection held at the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College.

History at Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the world’s great History faculties with over 100 academics who publish world-class research. Many have won prestigious prizes for their work.

The life of a successful Cambridge History student is a very busy one. You will be expected to attend up to eight lectures a week and participate in one or two classes (for which preparation is necessary); and each week you will have to read extensively and intensively on a specific subject and write an essay. This essay (typically 2000 words in length) is not formally assessed as it might be at other universities. Rather, it forms the basis for discussion in your weekly supervision. Your supervisor will be less interested in what you know than in the ideas thrown up by your reading, however under-developed or trivial they may seem to you.

Full details are provided on the Faculty of History website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

History at Churchill

Historians try to reconstruct the lives, minds, and cultures of people in the past, and historians at Churchill College are no exception. Studying History here involves imagination and a good measure of scepticism, requiring you to keep questioning and testing the limits of what we can reasonably know about other societies and eras. These are questions you can explore on a broad canvas: examining the experiences of the powerful and the weak; imagining long-lost mental worlds, whether political, philosophical or mystical; from empires to cities to villages; in Mexico, Mozambique or Manchester. You can investigate why people killed for Christ in the Crusades, why they hunted witches in the seventeenth century, why they voted for Thatcher in the 1980s, or what the Victorians thought about sex. These diverse topics all present searching problems about how we should understand our ancestors and ourselves in time.

For the first two years of the course you will tackle such problems, weighing up the validity of historical sources: the scribal, the literary, the visual, the oral. By your third year you will reach the frontiers of professional historical research in a Special Subject using primary sources, or in a dissertation based on your own archival research - perhaps using papers in the Churchill Archives Centre, with its 3000 boxes of the great war leader's papers and over 570 other collections besides.

While Churchill is well-known for being a college devoted to sciences, mathematics and engineering, 30% of our undergraduate students study arts and humanities subjects. History students at Churchill can expect to draw upon considerable strengths of expertise and experience in teaching and research. These include; Archives Centre staff, numerous postgraduate History students, one or more Junior Research Fellows, and usually a handful of Visiting Fellows. Amongst the teaching staff, History at Churchill is represented by Professor Mark Goldie, Dr Leigh Denault, and Mr Richard Partington, who all have a strong commitment to social, economic, political and cultural History.

No Cambridge college is able to depend entirely on its Fellowship in History to supervise all of its own undergraduates. The demand for variety within the Tripos will always exceed the specialisms of the teaching staff and it is common for students be sent to supervisors at other colleges to be supervised. Students will also spend a great deal of time in departmental and University libraries, and attending lectures and classes at the Faculty.

Churchill sets the highest standards and expects the greatest degree of commitment from its students, while providing the best quality teaching and guidance. At the same time, this is a friendly and relaxed environment in which to live and learn, where you will feel enthused and energized into studying, not stressed and intimidated.


Admissions

To apply to Churchill, you need to love libraries and books, reading and writing, to have the patience to investigate, to have the discipline to govern your own time, and to care about the details as well as the big ideas.

There is no secret about what Churchill looks for in its students. We need bright, energetic, hard-working, enthusiastic, open-minded, committed students with an uncommon passion for reading, thinking, writing and discussing History. If that is not really you, you may still be able to get through the interview, but it's unlikely you would thrive here, nor would you be very happy. So be honest. We want the right students (not necessarily the most brainy or the best-taught) for the way we teach and learn in this College, and this University. So if you have these attributes we would very much like to meet you.

Typically, we receive between ten and twenty applications each year; a combination of direct applications and open applications allocated to us by the University. Each year, we aim to admit a small number of candidates for the following academic year, and a similar number for deferred entry places. Overall, the intention is to maintain a cohort of four students in each of the three academic years — so a total of twelve.

Unsuccessful candidates may be entered into the Inter-collegiate Pool (from which they may be selected by another College in the following January), although we usually take more historians out of the Pool than we put in. The misconception that Churchill is a science-obsessed College where no arts student can ever survive needlessly deters strong applicants who, in fact, may stand a better chance of being offered a conditional place here than they would at colleges more strongly associated with History. Christ's and Caius, for example, are strong History colleges, but are routinely deluged with applications, causing a great many hopeful candidates to be disappointed. In every instance, a direct applicant to Churchill can expect to have their forms scrutinised very carefully among the handful of others we receive each year, and it would be very unlikely that he or she would not be invited to an interview.

Subject pre-requisites

EssentialHighly desirable/useful
A Level/IB Higher Level HistoryNo specific subjects

Standard entry requirements

Written assessments

Cambridge University uses a system of common format written assessments, specifically tailored to each subject. These give us valuable additional evidence of your academic ability, knowledge base, and potential to succeed at Cambridge. For more information about written assessments in this subject, click on:

Written assessments

Written work

We will ask you to submit two examples of teacher-marked History essays on different topics.

Interviews

If called, you will normally have two interviews, both with academic Fellows of the College. The conversations will focus very much upon your own interests. Before one interview, you will be allowed half an hour to study a short passage of historical writing for discussion, but we are interested only in your reaction to that, not your ability to date it or identify its provenance - interviews are not oral examinations to test knowledge. We understand that interviews can be nerve-racking so we will do what we can to put you at your ease and help you show yourself in the best light.


Resources

You may find it useful to do some preparatory reading, and — most importantly — to think about what you have read. Here are some suggestions:

  • John Arnold, History: a Very Short Introduction (2000)
  • Peter Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing (1991)
  • David Cannadine (ed.), What is History Now? (2002)
  • E. H. Carr, What is History? (1961) — 2002 edn, introduced by Richard Evans
  • Richard J. Evans, In Defence of History (1997)
  • Arthur Marwick, The New Nature of History (2001) — replacing old editions
  • John Tosh, The Pursuit of History (1991) — 2002 revised edition

Careers

The range of careers open to History graduates is vast and varied. Some of Churchill's recent History graduates have secured management training contracts or have taken law conversion courses after graduation. Others have gone into teaching, and at least one has stayed on to further his historical research at doctoral level. Three years studying History at Churchill is about much more than just gaining a degree. The effects the experience will have on your thinking, your personality, and your outlook on life are likely to be profound and will last forever.


Contact

For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office

“Students of History at Churchill can expect to draw upon considerable strengths of expertise and experience in teaching and research. ”Richard Partington, Senior TutorShare