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The Thrupp Essay Prize


The Thrupp Essay Prize is a long-standing St Edmund’s award.  It dates back to 1865, when J.W. Thrupp donated a generous sum to the school to encourage and reward academic endeavour, ambition and achievement.

Today, we remain proud to keep alive the tradition initiated by J.W. Thrupp and the values he sought to inspire.


  1. Your essay should be selected from the list provided.
  2. The essay is open to all Upper Fifth, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth pupils.
  3. Your answer should not exceed 1500 words. It does not have to be that many, but it should not be any more!
  4. You are very welcome to research your title and to draw on others’ ideas, views and studies, but it is important that you acknowledge their work by naming it and them.
  5. Submissions should be emailed, with the essay attached as a Word document, to
  6. Submissions should reach Mr Whitman no later than 4.30, Friday, 21st April.


Proposed Thrupp Essay Prize Titles

1. The story of history is the story of progress.’  To what extent do you agree with this view? 

2. How far do you agree with the claim that literature has no relevance to real life? 

3. ‘Our political leaders should be role models.’ To what extent do you believe that the words and actions of politicians should influence our view of them? 

4. Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that the limits of our language are the limits of our world.  In the light of this view, explore the importance of language in understanding the world. 

5. To what extent do you agree with the view that science has made everybody’s life better? 

6. Edgar Degas claimed that art is not about what the artist sees, but what the artist encourages others to see.  How far do you agree that this is the purpose of art? 

7. ‘It is impossible to justify the exploration of space when so many on earth are hungry.’  To what extent do you agree? 

8. ‘Science brings humankind closer to God.’ In the light of this claim, explore the relationship between science and religion.   

9. ‘Our priority must be to tackle climate change.’  To what extent do you agree that the climate is humanity’s most urgent problem? 

10. How far do you agree with the view that the internet is a force for good? 

11. ‘Freedom of speech should be defended at all costs.’ In the light of this claim, explore the value of free speech and how free it ought to be.