Philosophical Essay Competition

2017-2018 Essay Contest

The Thomas D. Sullivan Medal in Philosophy for the Best Undergraduate Philosophical Essays

The University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department is pleased to announce its tenth annual student essay contest.

The authors of the three best submissions will receive the Thomas D. Sullivan Medal in Philosophy and a cash prize -- $500, $300, or $200 for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, respectively.

Winners will also have the opportunity to present their winning papers publicly at the last philosophy department colloquium of the year.

Student Eligibility & Restrictions:

  • Only current UST undergraduate students are eligible.
  • Each student may submit only one essay per year.

Paper Requirements & Submission Procedures:

  • The paper may be on any philosophical topic.
  • The paper may not be more than 3500 words in length (word count does not include footnotes and bibliography).
  • The author's name may not appear anywhere in the paper.
  • The paper must be submitted by midnight, January 30, 2018, as attachment to an email message containing the author's name and sent to with the subject line "Student Essay Contest."

Award Criteria:

Papers should state and defend a philosophical thesis. Sorts of theses that may be defended include (but are not limited to) claims about solutions to philosophical problems, about the analysis of philosophical concepts, and about the interpretation of philosophical texts. Papers should be clear and well-written. Papers should exhibit skill in philosophical argumentation, evidence of high-quality philosophical research (where appropriate), and independent thought.

As you review your essay prior to submission, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the thesis clearly stated?
  • Is there an easily identifiable argument in defense of the thesis?
  • Have you shown that the premises of the main argument are true (or at least plausible)?
  • Have you made the key terms clear?

Direct all questions about the contest to


Philosophy Essay Prize

The winner of the Prize will receive £2,500 with his or her essay being published in Philosophy and identified as the essay prize winner.

2018 Topic:  Philosophy and International Relations

Arguably, philosophers have been thinking about issues regarding the status and relations between nations for as long as they have been thinking about nations themselves. With the development of colonisation and empires in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, serious consideration began to be given to the philosophy of relations between peoples, and this was further intensified with the rise of the nation state in Europe in the 19th century and the competition and wars between ‘great powers’ . Entries for this competition may address such general issues as the nature of nations, states and international and multi-state entities, and the basis for normative relations between them (e.g. ‘realism’ vs ‘moralism’, and ‘nationalism’ vs ‘cosmopolitanism’). More specific and practical issues might also be taken up; such as the basis for international aid; immigration and refugees; wars of self-defence vs wars of humanitarian intervention; international terrorism; globalisation of finance, trade and services; and environmentalism and global threats, etc.

In assessing entries priority will be given to originality, clarity of expression, breadth of interest, and potential for advancing discussion. All entries will be deemed to be submissions to Philosophy and more than one may be published. In exceptional circumstances the prize may be awarded jointly in which case the financial component will be divided, but the aim is to select a single prize-winner.

Entries should be prepared in line with standard Philosophy guidelines for submission (see They should be submitted electronically in Word, with PRIZE ESSAY in the subject heading, to

The closing date for receipt of entries is 1st October 2018. 

Entries will be considered by a committee of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and the winner announced by the end 2018.  The winning entry will be published in Philosophyin April 2019.

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