Shrewsbury School

Inaugural Fourth Form Essay Prize Competition

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Thirty-six members of the Fourth Form took up the challenge of the inaugural Fourth Form Essay Prize Competition on Monday 29th April.

The boys were presented with a set of essay questions from a wide range of academic disciplines. The questions were philosophical in nature as opposed to syllabus based, and so candidates had to think on their feet. They had one hour to complete the paper.

The essays will be judged by Dr Tim Harper, a fellow of Magdalane College Cambridge, and the prize for the winning entry will be presented on Speech Day Prize Giving.

4th Form Essay Prize Competition 2013

Fourth Form Essay Prize Competition 2013 Questions


  • ‘Only through reading do we truly understand ourselves and others.’ Explain how any stories you have read have helped you understand yourself or others.
  • ‘Villains make the most interesting characters.’ To what extent have you found this to be true in the literature you have read?


  • ‘If Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed’ (Pascal). Discuss.
  • ‘Modern civilisation owes everything to Classical Civilisations.’  To what extent do you agree with this?


  • ‘Actions are right as long as they produce happiness’ (J.S.Mill).  Discuss.
  • ‘All you know for certain is that you exist.’ Discuss.


  • Living organisms vary in size by many degrees of magnitude. Is it better to be large or small?
  • Does a scientific understanding of a flower make it more or less beautiful and mysterious?
  • Several NASA missions are searching for evidence of life on Mars. How would the discovery of life on Mars affect our view of ourselves?


  • Why study history?
  • If you had a time machine with which to travel the past, where and when would you go, and why?


  • What is the geography of colour?
  • ‘Geography is solely about places.’ Discuss. 4th Form Essay Prize Competition 2013
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