The LSE UPR is pleased to announce the return of its essay competition, in which we hope to encourage incoming and outgoing year 12 and 13 students to tackle current, complex topics outside of the standard academic curriculum.

The UPR is a platform for leading undergraduate research, supporting students in engaging with academic debates of a broadly political nature.

ESSAY QUESTIONS

1) ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ is a new sculpture by Turner prize winning artist Mark Wallinger located in the center if the LSE’s campus. In light of this, imagine you have been given the power to redefine one of the geographic borders on the world map. Which would you redefine and why?

2) Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has frequently said all university level tuition fees should be abolished because ‘education is a right held by all’. Do you agree with this claim?

3) Whether it be cyber-attacks influencing election outcomes, or the perpetuation of our thought-bubbles through social media platforms, technology has become an inextricable part of the way we engage in politics. To what extent is this a force for good, or something that poses a threat to our political order?

4) ‘The interests of the current generations matter more than the interest of future generations.’ Do you agree with this claim and discuss what obligations, if any, we might have to future people and why?

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU THINKING

https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/016228803322761973?casa_token=5_YTYL7Vr64AAAAA%3AL83byPcd6RieUx11jjaMM_5lk5EeKaZ6sUuT5Ob__RVuvIN_PnnxAl5GhNSFWNINnFXJziCh_pOm&

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/106591290305600206

https://www-oxfordscholarship-com.gate2.library.lse.ac.uk/view/10.1093/019824908X.001.0001/acprof-9780198249085-chapter-16?print=pdf

Some of these readings will be quite challenging but they reflect the sort of things you will be expected to read at LSE. If you have any trouble understanding do not worry and please email any queries or questions to lseupr@lse.ac.uk.

PRIZES

  • 1st place:  £50 prize, certificate signed by an LSE Professor.
  • 2nd place:  £25 prize, certificate signed by an LSE Professor
  • 3rd place: £10 prize, certificate signed by an LSE Professor

In addition, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place entries will have their submissions posted on our LSEUPR blog site and all will be invited to our annual Research Conference.

WHY ENTER?

  1. EXPERIENCE – writing an academic essay supported by non-biased evidence is a crucial part of higher education.
  2. CREDIT – entry into this competition will be a great achievement that is sure to impress both teachers and universities for potential applications (maybe even to LSE !!)
  3. PRESTIGE – the LSE UPR is a top platform for undergraduate research and is part of one of the best Politics Departments in the World.

GUIDELINES

Please submit your essay by midnight on September 1st 2019

Send your essay to our email: lseupr@lse.ac.uk – with “Essay competition 2019” as the subject.

  • Include a cover letter in your document. This should be page 1 of the pdf or word document, and should detail:
    • The question you have answered
    • Your name
    • Your email
    • The school you attend
    • Your country of study
    • Which school year you are in
    • How much help you received (from teacher or other)
  • When uploading:
    • Fill in your first name and surname
    • Fill in your contact email

Entries must be submitted as either PDFs or Word documents, in size 12, font Times New Roman or Helvetica, double-spaced, and 1200 words max. The word count does not include titles, titles of graphs/charts, footnotes, citations or bibliography. With regards to citations, any commonly accepted method is recognised (APA, Harvard, Chicago, MLA, etc). Here is a useful guide to Harvard referencing.

Entry is open to students in their final two years of secondary school, or in sixth form college (including students taking A-Level, the International Baccalaureate, and any other equivalent curriculum). Entrants do not have to be from schools in the UK – we accept essays from any school of all countries!

All work must be the student’s original content and must have been produced solely for this competition. Whilst help from parents, peers, and teachers is by no means prohibited, we highly encourage all entrants to develop a scholarly piece of work independently.

Students do not need to have studied politics at school in order to enter, but they should still adhere to the guidelines below.

ADVICE

The judges will be looking for essays that are concise, analytical, imaginative, and impartial. It is extremely important to cite your sources.

While not necessary, the use of charts, graphs, and other forms of data visualisation, where appropriate, are welcomed to back up your arguments with real world data. Note, whilst you can create your own data visualisations from sourced data, using graphs and charts found online is more than acceptable (but please remember to cite!).

Although this is indeed an “essay” competition, there is no specific formatting style, except that essays should generally follow that of an academic blog article, such as the ones published on the UPR’s website. Whilst politics is undeniably an opinionated subject, the best essays will be as analytically driven as possible, using strong pieces of evidence to prove and disprove claims made about political phenomena.

The LSE’s motto (translated) is “to understand the causes of things”, and so essays that are explicitly biased, emotive, and agenda-fuelled, without strong supporting evidence, are discouraged – scholarly essays are not columnist opinion pieces.

For further, slightly more advanced examples, feel free to browse the LSE British Politics and Policy and LSE US American Politics and Policy blogs. In terms of grammatical structure, The Economist’s ‘Style Guide’, George Orwell’s six rules of writing and the British Politics and Policy’s blog note on ‘Audience, writing style and language’ are good guides on how to best write your essays.

 

Thank you very much for submitting your essays, and we wish you the best of luck!

UPR Team 2019-20

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