Newnham Essay Prizes

Criteria for the Newnham Essay Prizes have been amended for the 2022 competition. Please read below to check you are eligible to apply.

All female students currently in Year 12 (S5 Scotland, Y13 NI) at a UK state school may enter the prizes, which are offered in a variety of subject areas, as well as our annual ‘Woolf Essay Prize’ with questions inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

Each of the Newnham Essay Prizes have a first prize of £400, a second prize of £200 and a third prize of £100. Prize money is split 50:50 between the Essay Prize winner and the funding of resources for their school.

We welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects at school. Each competition has a slightly different word limit, so make sure you read the Information and Questions sheet for the prize to which you plan to apply. 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 4 entries per subject.

Not sure where to start?

This year, we are running a programme of structured advice and guidance webinars to support students entering the Essay Prize Competition. Attending this programme will give you the opportunity to improve your essay writing skills, get the tools for developing a strong essay, and get a sneak peak of university-level study.

The recorded webinars can be found here;

The password for each recording was provided in your results email.

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.

The submission deadline for your essay is 12pm on Friday 11 March 2022.  A completed cover sheet (signed by your school) must be uploaded along with your essay to the submission webform for your entry to be valid.  If you have any questions, please email essayprizes@newn.cam.ac.uk.

The Woolf Essay Prize

Woolf Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out more about studying English Literature at University of Cambridge

Meet Shakespeare scholar Dr Bonnie Lander-Johnson

Read essays from previous winners of the Woolf Essay Prize here: 

First Prize: Connie Higgins

Second Prize: Freya MacLeod

Third Prize: Malia Rock-Joffe

The Archaeology Essay Prize

Archaeology Information And Questions 2022

As Archaeology is such a broad subject spanning both the arts and humanities and the sciences, this prize may appeal to students studying a range of subjects – from History, English and Sociology to Biology and Chemistry. We welcome entries from students studying any combination of subjects.

Find out about studying Archaeology at University of Cambridge

Meet archaeologist Dr Emma Pomeroy

Read essays from previous winners of the Archaeology Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Hillary Small

Second Prize: Charlotte Rowlands

Third Prize: Roxanna Fahid

The Biological Sciences Essay Prize

Biological Sciences Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out about studying Biological Sciences at University of Cambridge

Meet biologist and Director of Studies Dr Barbara Blacklaws.

Read essays from previous winners of the Biological Sciences Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Niamh Tooher

Second Prize: Brintha Yasodaran

Third Prize: Silvia McCarthy

The Classics Essay Prize

Classics Information And Questions 2022

The Classics Essay Prize 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.

Find out about studying Classics at University of Cambridge

Meet Director of Studies Dr Carol Atack

Read essays from previous winners of the Classics Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Adhithy Hari Baskar

Second Prize: Megan Houston

Third Prize: Georgia Baker

The Computer Science Essay Prize

Computer Science Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out about studying Computer Science at University of Cambridge

Meet computer scientist Luana Bulat

Read essays from previous winners of the Computer Science Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Ruby Watsham

Second Prize: Saori Henwood

Third Prize: Rujul Godghate

The Engineering Essay Prize

Engineering Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out about studying Engineering at University of Cambridge

Meet sustainability engineer Dr Claire Barlow

Meet civil engineer Dr Sakthy Selvakumaran

Read essays from previous winners of the Engineering Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Orla McLelland

Second Prize: Suraya Williams

Third Prize: Katie Anderson

The History Essay Prize

History Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out about studying History at University of Cambridge

Meet historian of science Dr Emma Perkins

Read essays from previous winners of the History Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Catherine Booth

Second Prize: Imogen Hamp

Third Prize: Andrea Thodarson

The Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Essay Prize

Mathematics Information And Questions 2022

The Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Essay Prize 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.

Find out about studying Maths at University of Cambridge

Meet mathematician Dr Maria Ubiali

Read essays from previous winners of the Philippa Fawcett Mathematics Prize here:

First Prize: Romy Franchi

Second Prize: Eleanor MacGillivray

Third Prize: Lilly Hong

The Medicine Essay Prize

Medicine Information and Questions 2022

The prize may be of particular interest to those studying Biology and Chemistry, but we welcome entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects.

Find out about studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge

Meet Neurobiologist Professor Jenny Morton

Read essays from previous winners of the Medicine Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Kathryn Chia

Second Prize: Theebiga Sivasatkunanathan

Third Prize: Amelia Kloss

The Music Essay Prize

Music Information And Questions 2022

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.

Find out about studying music at University of Cambridge

Meet music historian Dr Delphine Mordey

Find out about music at Newnham

Read essays from previous winners of the Music Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Lily Fowke-Green

Second Prize: Isabella Myers

Third Prize: Juliet Gray

The Philosophy Essay Prize

Philosophy Information And Questions 2022

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 University of Cambridge

Meet philosopher Prof Rae Langton

Read essays from previous winners of the Philosophy Essay Prize here:

First Prize: Shalva Louisa Hadari

Second Prize: Antonia Chao

Third Prize: Amia Guha