Our Annual Essay Competition has returned!

Essay Question 2021:

To what extent have emerging social movements caused politicians to respond with effective social change? 

In May 2020, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis galvanised the Black Lives Matter movement in an unprecedented manner. The uproar for justice echoed throughout the globe calling for a confrontation of the racial violence inherent in present social and political systems. Protestors called for the toppling of colonial statues as an attempt to terminate the glorification of nations’ colonial pasts and the systemic racism that it accompanied. Did these calls by protestors cause political leaders to become cognisant of the social problem at hand and to make political amendments that would achieve their movement’s goal of a more equal, anti-discriminatory society? To what extent has the Black Lives Matter movement, or any other recent demonstration of collective action, been able to nudge political leaders such that effective social change has occurred?

Why Enter?

1st Place Prize:
  • £100 Amazon Voucher
  • Certificate signed by Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey, Head of the LSE Department of Government
  • Essay published in the LSEUPR blog
  • The opportunity to attend and to present your essay at the LSEUPR Annual Conference
2nd Place Prize:
  • £50 Amazon Voucher
  • Certificate signed by Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey, Head of the LSE Department of Government
  • Essay published in the LSEUPR blog
3rd Place Prize:
  • £25 Amazon Voucher
  • Certificate signed by Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey, Head of the LSE Department of Government
  • Essay published in the LSEUPR blog
As well as the prospect of winning a prize, this competition presents a unique opportunity for:
  1. Exploration: this is a chance to engage with the topic and to explore your ideas and thoughts in a new way, outside the confines of academic stress from examinations and grades.
  2. Experience: for those of you wishing to apply to university, this essay competition is a chance to produce an evidence-based, long form piece of writing. This is exactly the kind of work you will be regularly asked to produce at university, LSE or elsewhere!
  3. Prestige: taking part in this competition is an achievement in itself and something that you can discuss in interviews, on your CV, and your personal statement for university.


  • You must be yet to complete your A-Level studies, IB or equivalent, i.e. about to begin year 12 or 13 of secondary school or equivalent.
  • Students from any country are allowed to enter, the competition is not limited to the UK, but is limited by level of study.

How to Enter:

To enter, fill out the form below with your personal details and please ensure to attach your essay submission as a PDF.
Click here to enter: Entry Form


1st October 2021, 23:59 BST

Submission Specifics:

  • Must be written in English.
  • The word limit is 1000 words, any submission that is longer than this will be automatically disqualified.
    • Please note: any in-text citations, footnotes and headings are included in the word count, but the title, bibliography and appendix, if applicable, are not included.
  • Arial font, sized 12.
  • Standard 1-inch margins.
  • Submit essay as a PDF.
  • It is extremely important to cite your sources. You are free to use any established referencing style (APA, Chicago, Harvard), as long as its use is consistent.
  • Ensure that the PDF essay entry is completely anonymised, there should not be any personal details such as name or school attended included within the PDF.
  • This is an independent piece of work. While you are free to discuss the topic with your peers/teacher, the final submission ultimately needs to be your own work. Plagiarism is a serious case of academic misconduct and will be met with disqualification.
  • Essays should be concise, analytical, imaginative, and impartial.
    • Submissions that are explicitly biased, agenda-fuelled, or without strong supporting evidence, are discouraged – scholarly essays are not columnist opinion pieces.


Essay Writing: 

Structuring your essay:

Writing a clear introduction:

Ensuring your essay is clear and easy to follow:

Writing an impactful conclusion:

Editing your essay:

Referencing your Essay

General overview:  https://student.unsw.edu.au/referencing


Topic Specific Resources:

The study of social movements is vast and it can be difficult to know where to start. If you are unsure of where to begin, here are some resources that can kick off your research:

LSE Research on Social movements 

Background on social movements and effective change: 

Background on specific examples of critical social movements: 

Examples of responses to protests: 

Good luck!
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