Competitions, Awards & Activities

Fighting for a university place can be tough. Below is a list of competitions/olympiads/challenges etc. that you might want to have a look at and get involved with as it would give you something to put on your personal statement and even if not, it’s really quite fun to do.


Linguistics Olympiad:

UKLO is a competition for students who are still at secondary school, in which they have to solve linguistic data problems.

For all the budding linguists out there, this is a competition that you should really get involved with. Use your skills of logic, deduction, educated guessing etc. to decipher the meaning of words in languages that you have never met before. It is an intellectual challenge and tests your skills; it is really worth considering.

Even if you aren’t a linguist, those with a mathematical/scientific incline might like to have a go at this too, in fact anyone can have a go.


Peterhouse (the oldest College of the University of Cambridge) runs three Essay Competitions in History, Science and English each year for lower sixth students. The top prize in each essay competition is £500 and the second prize is £250. All winners and highly commended entrants are invited to a presentation at Peterhouse in late June/early July. This year’s competition is now live and the deadline for receipt of all essays is 22nd March 2013.

For the Thomas Campion English Essay Prize, please click here:


For the Vellacott History Prize, please click here:


For the Kelvin Science Prize, click here:

CREST Awards:

Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) enrichment activities to inspire and engage young people aged 5-19 years

This is a great opportunity to do some independent research, experiments, designing to develop your interest into a particular aspect of science, it could be anything ranging from building a lie detector to monitoring the effect of temperature on the oxygen content of water. There are three different levels, each requiring different hours of input: Bronze level (minimum of 10 hours), silver (min. of 40 hours), and Gold (100+ hours.)

Young Scientists Journal:

Do you like to write? Do you like science? Is there something you would like to write about? Sign up for the young scientists journal and submit your articles which could be chosen and published in their magazine.

Headstart EDT Courses:

These courses come with a fee but they give you the opportunity to undertake a short residential course at universities such as University of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge.

Nuffield Research Placements (previously Nuffield Science Bursaries):

They provide over 1,000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Students in the first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course are eligible to apply. Placements are available across the UK, in universities, commercial companies, voluntary organisations and research institutions.

The National Science  + Engineering Competition:


University of Birmingham Particle Physics Cascade Competition:

This is a really exciting competition as you get to make a short video trying to explain an aspect of particle physics; this allows you to show how you have done extra reading and research outside of what you are learning in school and it’s a lot of fun, especially because you can work in a team with your friends.

Physics Challenge and/or British Physics Olympiad:

The fact that is it mostly geared to using and manipulating data from unfamiliar situations and not dependent on a GCSE spec is excellent”.

(Teacher, Physics Challenge)

The British Physics Olympiad Experimental Project –

Our newest competition, the Practical Project was introduced in 2007. It was developed in response to the decreasing amount of practical physics available to students in school. An interesting problem is posed, to be investigated using common household and school equipment. The project is written up in the style of an academic paper.

BOSCH Technology Horizons Award:

The Bosch Technology Horizons Award is an essay-writing competition for 14 to 24 year olds in the UK.


Biology Challenge and/or British Biology Olympiad:

Encouraging an interest in biology beyond the school curriculum.

Stimulating curiosity about the natural world.


UK Chemistry Olympiad:

The RSC organises the selection and training of the UK team for the International Chemistry Olympiad competition.

Cambridge Chemistry Challenge:

There is an online version which you can view by visiting the website with monthly problems that you can try and solve. In June there is a written paper open to year 12 students in the UK.

Salters’ Chemistry Camps:

Sixty students participate in each Camp.  Four students from each school may apply from Year 10 (or equivalent in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).


UKMT Maths Challenge:

The levels vary depending on your age group: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior.

The papers contain 25 multiple choice questions. Of these, the first 15 are more accessible whilst the final 10 will provide more food for thought.


Visit the Joint Association of Classical Teachers website for a list of competitions related to Classics:

Economics/ Business

Young Enterprise:

World Bank International Essay Competition for Youth:

Young Economist of the Year Essay Competition:

Poly U Global Student challenge:

Schools’ Brightest Business Brain:

Entering essay competitions are a good way to develop your communication skills which is an important skill to have. Being able to articulate your ideas both verbally and on paper will stand you in good stead for university life.


Duke of Edinburgh Award:

The Cambridge Schools Debating Competition:

The Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition:

Commonwealth Essay Competition:

Hopefully this will give you some idea of the competitions that you could be taking part in. Have a go!

Keep checking this blog post for updates of other competitions.


2 thoughts on “Competitions, Awards & Activities

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s