Philsoc instituted this essay competition in the Hilary term 2012. Its
objective is to promote a serious interest in philosophy and to encourage and
stimulate students participating in Oxford University's Department of
Continuing Education (OUDCE) philosophy on-line courses, weekly attended
classes and summer schools (OUSSA). Entry for the Prize is very simple, since
all a student needs to do is submit an essay of 750-1,500 words already
written as part of required coursework. The full rules governing the
termly essay prize and submission are found here.
Each term all prize-winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd prize) will receive diplomas
and prizes of Amazon vouchers (£25, £15 and £10). They will
also be awarded one year's free membership of Philsoc and their essays will be
published here on the Philsoc website. Essays winning a First Prize will also
appear in Philsoc's annual Review. Prize-winners will receive private comments
on their essays from the judges.
There can be as many as twenty qualifying OUDCE philosophy courses in a
term, so to achieve a win or place will be something to be proud of. The
essays will be judged by philosophically well qualified members of the
Philosophical Society, who do not know the identity of the authors, only the
titles of the courses they are pursuing.
The winners of the past Hilary term competition (January - March
2018) are shown below. The submission deadline for the current Trinity term
2018 (April - June) and OUSSA summer schools (July-August) is 20th August
2018. We aim to announce the winners by the end of September 2018.
Judges' Report for Hilary Term 2018
14 essays were entered for the Prize, 11 from OUDCE's online courses and 3
from OUDCE's weekly, attended classes. The three prizes that have been
awarded, along with one highly commended, are set out below. The essays may be
read by clicking on the essay titles.
Highly Commended: Andrew Peasgood for his essay entitled Are there any non-existent
things?. Andrew participated in the online Introduction to Metaphysics
course tutored by Shlomit Harrosh.
Judges' General Comments
We congratulate the prize-winners above in one of the strongest fields
since the Prize was inaugurated in 2012. Several of the runners-up could have
found themselves prizewinners in previous competitions, and we have in fact
awarded Highly Commended status to Andrew Peasgood, who won the previous
term's competition, and include his essay among those published here. We have
taken the unusual step of awarding three 1st equal prizes to essays on very
different topics, since to demote any of them to a second or third place
would, it seemed to us, imply an invidious comparison between three really
excellent essays. All three prize-winners will receive the 1st Prize
Once again we were delighted to see how well the majority of essayists
observed our recommendations on such issues as keeping the whole essay
strictly relevant to answering the question, keeping within the word limit,
recognising and combatting arguments against the essay's conclusions, and
delivering the good, tight essay structure necessary within such an exacting
word limit. There were nevertheless some exceptions. Regretfully we had to
disqualify one essay for exceeding the word limit. And we would once again
draw attention to the requirement to provide good references, sufficiently
explicit to enable the interested reader to look up quoted sources. We must
abide by standard academic practice here, something which we do understand may
be a trifle hard on beginners to philosophy.
Again, too, we give strong thanks to the hard-working tutors, the quality
of whose tutelage is manifest in the admirable essays submitted by their
Set out logic-book
style the argument that follows, saying what type of argument it is,
and using the methods you were taught in the course, say whether or not
you think it is a good argument, where 'good' is appropriate to the type
of argument you have decided it to be. 'Every time I have played chess
with James he has been so irritating that I have been unable to
concentrate, and in losing to him I have lost a lot of money. Tonight I
am playing chess with Tom rather than James, but Susan tells me that Tom
is as irritating as James. I am probably, therefore, going to lose
concentration, and therefore money tonight.'