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Essay competition with historical bite

What is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? That is the question being put to Year 12 students in Cornwall by Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Exeter's Tremough Campus, Penryn in an essay writing competition.

Students between the ages of 16 and 18 will be encouraged to enter the competition, write the essay over the summer and submit their essay to the University by 7 September. Essays will be judged on their originality of argument, accuracy of content and quality of original research. The winner will receive prizes of up the value of £75.00.

Dr Nick Vaughan-Williams, who will be leading a seminar on the essay theme, said: "In a rapidly changing and unstable world, in which environmental and technological change, migration and terrorism present pressing challenges, we believe that this question offers talented students the chance to engage with challenges humanity has faced in its history and to consider the means by which they have been overcome."

The question reflects the interdisciplinary research strengths on the Tremough Campus and has been formulated to allow AS level students with any disciplinary focus to participate.

It is the first annual essay writing competition that the department has organised and is keen to get schools and colleges onboard. The aim is to encourage students to think about history and social sciences as subjects to study at degree level. For those already set on studying these areas it is anticipated that by being involved in a competition of this kind it will illustrate their commitment and interest for the subject and make them stand out as a prospective student if they include this information on their personal statement in their UCAS form.

History lecturer, Dr Tim Cooper, said: "We hope that students will not only develop their research and writing skills, but also gain an insight into the thought processes of university level work."

Schools and colleges with sixth forms have been invited to the launch of the competition at the Tremough Campus, Penryn on Monday 30 June. They will participate in a seminar and lecture that addresses relevant themes in the essay title. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in a session entitled 'Researching and Writing an Essay at University', which will provide them with practical academic skills. They will also be able to go to a lecture given by Professor Ilan Pappe, a leading historian on the Middle East.

Those students unable to attend the launch but interested in submitting an essay to the competition need to contact the Outreach Officer, Richard Prest. He will be able to give up to date advice on how to enter and put them in contact with a University academic who will be able to discuss their essay proposals. Richard is available on 01326 371 858 or

The £100 million Tremough Campus is a Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative ­of which the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners. It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus offers a lively student community. The University of Exeter now offers degrees in Biology, Modern Celtic and Cornish Studies, English, Geology, Geography, History, Law, Mining Engineering, Politics and Renewable Energy on its Tremough Campus, which has expanded rapidly as part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative.

For further information please contact Esther White, Press Officer, University of Exeter, on 01392 262307 or email

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). University of Exeter is a partner of the CUC.


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
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