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How to use the John Locke Essay Competition in your University Application

What is the John Locke Essay competition?

The John Locke Essay competition is a prestigious essay competition open to anyone studying in their final two years of school. It makes students answer thought–provoking questions beyond the school syllabus and therefore is a great academic exercise in advance of applications.

What questions are there in the John Locke Essay competition?

In 2024 there are 21 (!) questions across 7 broad areas of social sciences and humanities. Take a look at the questions below and see which ones take your fancy!


Do we have any good reasons to trust our moral intuition.

Do girls have a (moral) right to compete in sporting contests that exclude boys?

Should I be held responsible for what I believe?


Is there such a thing as too much democracy?

Is peace in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip possible?

When is compliance complicity?


What is the optimal global population?

Accurate news reporting is a public good. Does it follow that news agencies should be funded from taxation?

Do successful business people benefit others when making their money, when spending it, both, or neither?


Why was sustained economic growth so rare before the later 18th century and why did this change?

Has music ever significantly changed the course of history?

Why do civilisations collapse? Is our civilisation in danger?


When, if ever, should a company be permitted to refuse to do business with a person because of that person’s public statements?

In the last five years British police have arrested several thousand people for things they posted on social media. Is the UK becoming a police state?

Your parents say that 11pm is your bedtime. But they don’t punish you if you don’t go to bed by 11pm. Is 11pm really your bedtime?


According to a study by researchers at four British universities, for each 15-point increase in IQ, the likelihood of getting married increases by around 35% for a man but decreases by around 58% for a woman. Why?

There is an unprecedented epidemic of depression and anxiety among young people. Can we fix this? How?

What is the difference between a psychiatric illness and a character flaw?


 “I am not religious, but I am spiritual.” What could the speaker mean by “spiritual”?

Is it reasonable to thank God for protection from some natural harm if He is responsible for causing the harm?

Does God reward those who believe in him? If so, why?

What prizes can you win in the John Locke Essay competition?

Prizes are awarded to first, second and third places. Top performing students are also shortlisted for a gala dinner at which rewards are announced.

The top performing student for each subject receives a scholarship worth 2,000 US$ which can be put towards the cost of any of the John Locke’s institute programmes. However, the winner across all seven subject categories receives a 10,000 US$ reward, but again this can only be used towards the cost of a John Locke institute programme.

Who is eligible to enter the John Locke Essay competition?

Anyone is eligible to enter as long as your 19 birthday is AFTER 30 June 2024. In practical terms this means anyone doing A-Levels in 2025.

How many people enter the John Locke Essay competition

The John Locke essay competition is highly competitive with over 19,000 students entering each year.

How can this help my application?

At University Admissions Tutors we recommend all of our Oxford and Cambridge applicants enter into at least one essay competition, and the John Locke essay competition is a great one to enter. The essay competition can help you in the three following ways:

Focus attention: Too many applicants write personal statements and general applications that are far too diffuse. What’s needed is a sharp focus on a particular subject area. The John Locke Essay competition can prove a great way of doing this as it allows you to dig deep into one area and develop your own ‘hot take’ on it.

Showcase independent thought: Many personal statements only give examples of things that students have passively read. Entering the John Locke Essay competition means that you can show as well as absorbing knowledge from books and articles you can synthesise information and make your own unique arguments.

Develop writing ability: Writing a concise well-argued essay is a tricky (and yet essential) skill and the John Locke Essay competition is the perfect opportunity to develop this. It forces you to write a well structed essay which will prove a useful skill wherever you end up studying.

I’m interested… So what now?

Our team of elite tutors are experts in assisting students through the essay writing process. Get in contact here so you can start your journey today.









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