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Summer Essay Competition 2023

Welcome to this year’s essay competition! This is a chance for you to explore an interesting question in one of your A Level subjects over the summer.

The rules:

  • Anyone who is beginning Year 12 at Newstead Wood in September 2023 can enter the competition. 

  • The word ‘essay’ comes from the French word essayer - to try or attempt something. We are not expecting you to give a definitive answer but to explore aspects of the questions that interest you.

  • Only one entry is permitted per person. You can answer on any of the questions below, but are encouraged to choose a title for a subject you are taking at A Level.

  • Essays must be your own work. Please use footnotes to cite any information that have come from other sources.

  • Prizes will be awarded to the best essays in each category as well as a grand prize awarded to the best essay overall.

  • Your essay should be about 1000 words long.

  • The best essays will be shared in an anthology of student writing. By entering the competition, you are agreeing to your essay being shared with full credit in the anthology via the school website and social media. 

  • Please send your entry in .doc or .pdf format by August 31st to Mr Lewis -

  • Please include your name in the filename and put the essay title in the subject line of the email.

The essay questions


The impressionists were the demise of real art. Is this true?

The easier it is to say what a work is about, the less interesting that work becomes. To what extent do you agree?


Discuss human use of forest trees and its impact on tree diversity.


Using ideas of thermodynamics and pH, discuss the ability of the world's oceans to mitigate climate change

Classical Civilisation

Greek Theatre still has much to say about the modern world. Explore this statement.

Physical objects from the past tell us much about the ancient world, and as much about ourselves. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Fashion and Textiles

"Fashion provides one of the most ready means through which individuals can make expressive visual statements about their identities" (Bennett, 2005). Do you agree?

How and why is fashion influenced by celebrities? 

What was the worst fashion era? Why? 

Product Design & Engineering

How has the introduction of new materials improved the performance of modern racing bicycles?

How might ergonomic factors be considered in the design of a new telephone for physically impaired people?


Evaluate the view that increasing tax on the highest income earners is the best way to reduce inequality.

English Literature

Does the use of male pseudonyms by female writers represent repression or liberation?

Should we focus on studying ordinary or extraordinary women in literature?


"You live a new life for every new language you speak.  If you know only one language, you live only once." - To what extent do you agree with this statement?


‘A full understanding of human geography often requires an appropriate understanding of physical geography' Discuss, with reference to specific examples.

Government & Politics

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” To what extent do you agree?


‘The biggest challenge facing historians is a culture of post truth' Assess the validity of this view.


How have improvements in transport and communications infrastructure affected the history of music – and in what ways might they do so in the future?

In some ways music can be thought of as the ultimate interdisciplinary subject, but it is also highly specialised in other respects. Examine this paradox in the context of the debate about music’s role in primary and secondary education.


Should we construct a superior, next-generation particle accelerator and collider?

Is nuclear fusion a saviour for an energy-hungry world?

How would the detection of gravitational waves affect the future of astrophysics?

What two words would summarise the Universe and how?

What would be the consequences of cuboid planets instead of spherical?

Would dark matter and energy be linked to each other as ordinary matter and energy do so?


"It is still open to question whether psychology is a natural science, or whether it can be regarded as a science at all." Discuss this famous quote from Ivan Pavlov. 

Is it time for a world without gender? Discuss the origins of gender and modern developments in our understanding of this term. 


"If our actions are determined, then it is absurd that we should be held responsible for them." To what extent do you agree?

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