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 Michaelmas term competition (October -
December 2017) are shown below. The submission deadline for the current
Hilary term 2018 (January - March) is 31st December. We aim to announce
the winners by the third week of June 2018.
Judges' Report for Michaelmas Term 2017
12 essays were entered for the Prize, all from OUDCE's online courses.
The three prizes that were awarded are set out below.
The essays may be read by clicking on the essay titles.
1st Equal Prize to Andrew Peasgood for his essay
entitled Did Berkeley
Misunderstand Locke? Andrew participated in the online Introduction to
Philosophy course tutored by Rachel Paine.
3rd Prize to Nicholas Juckes for his essay
entitled The Problem of
Induction. Nicholas participated in the online Theory of Knowledge course
Judges' General Comments
We congratulate the prize-winners above, especially because we found this
term's entries of a particularly high standard. This made judging the essays
an extremely enjoyable task, except for having to exclude some really good
essays from winning prizes. Special congratulations to prizewinner, Andrew
Peasgood, for moving up from second place in the previous term to achieving
1st= this time.
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 a good,
tight essay structure. Moreover, some of the essays were really stylish in
their writing, as well as in their thoughtfulness and imaginative expression
of relevant arguments. Well done!
Again there was a wonderful geographic spread of entrants for the essay Prize,
as follows: UK 6, USA 2 and one each from Argentina, Australia, Latvia and
We always give strong thanks to the hardworking tutors, and none deserves that
more than the three tutors whose online courses provided the three
prizewinners: Schlomit Harrosh, Rachel Paine and Ilhaam Isaacs. Students from
their classes have submitted many prizewinning essays over the last several
years. We thank them and all of OUDCE's tutors who have inspired their
students to take an interest in philosophy and drawn attention to the
opportunity to enter their course essays for Philsoc's Student Essay
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.'