School Science Writing Competition FAQs

Teachers can join the Mailing List here to be notified upon future competition releases

  • Who are the competition judges, and what are they looking for?

The judges are scientific researchers and communicators at the University of Oxford. Recently, this has included leading professors and Nobel Laureates. They will assess the essay based on topic, relevance, writing style and grammar, interest to a general audience, and factual accuracy. It is important to remember that our audience is quite broad, ranging from GCSE students to PhD students, and even some professors! Students are recommended to write at a level that would be simple enough for someone who has an interest in science, but isn’t an expert in the topic being writing about. 

  • How can teachers upload submissions for multiple students?

For teachers uploading multiple students’ submissions, please fill in a new form for each student. There are no limits to how many different students teachers can submit essays for.

  • Are there limits to the number of applicants per school?

No. There are no limits to the number of applicants per school. As a reminder, each student may only have one submission. 

  • I am home-schooled in the UK without a school teacher, can I still compete?

Yes. If you are home-schooled in the UK then you are eligible to compete. Please email [email protected] with the details and the essay.

  • What if my science teacher is very busy and can’t submit the essay for me?

Any teacher in the school who has taught you or knows your ability such as your Form Tutor, Subject Teachers, Head of Subjects, Head of Years, or Headteachers…. are welcome to submit the essay on your behalf. If there are mitigating circumstances and it is not possible to find a suitable teacher, please get in touch at [email protected] and we can make an exception for any member of staff in the school provided they have an official school email can submit your entry on your behalf. 

  • Can generative AI such as Chat GPT tools be used?

All work submitted must be the student’s own and produced independently. Students are encouraged to research and learn from a variety of sources, including lectures, books and can make use of generative AI and other online tools. However, all information and content derived from these resources must be properly verified and understood to ensure originality. Plagiarism in any form is strictly prohibited.

  • Can the essay exceed the 700-word limit?

We cannot accept articles that exceed the maximum 700-word limit. The reason for this is so that we can make sure that the winning article will fit on a single page in our print magazine.

  • Is a bibliography required?

No. A bibliography is not a requirement of the competition and if provided, it will count towards the 700 word limit. 

  • Which year groups are eligible? What about Scotland and Northern Ireland? 

The student must be a school, college or sixth form student in Year 13, 12, 11 or 10 in England, Wales. Year 14, 13, 12, 11 in Northern Ireland and S3, S4, S5, S6 in Scotland. If the student skipped or repeated a year group, but are in the qualifying year groups, they are also eligible to take part (ie. if they are 19 years old but in Year 13 in England).

  • Can images be included in the article?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept images. This is because we have to follow strict guidelines to prevent any copyright infringements.

  • Can articles be written with friends?

We cannot accept articles that have been co-authored. Articles must be the student’s own work.

  • When is the deadline?

The deadline is 11:59PM on the date specified on the website. We will not accept articles that are submitted after this date. Please ensure teachers submit the essay ahead of time to ensure there are no disappointments. Teachers will receive an email with confirmation of receiving the submission that they are welcome to show students to remove any worries.

  • Can students submit more than one article?

We will only accept one submission per student. If a mistake was made and there was a resubmission, we will only mark the latest submission from that student. 

  • How can I check if my teacher has submitted the essay yet?

Teachers will receive a confirmation email after submitting an essay. Please ask your teacher for confirmation of this. 

  • A mistake was made when the article was uploaded! Can it be uploaded again?

Yes. We will accept only the last article written by each student, so if a mistake was made, teachers can simply fill out the form again and send the correct version. If there are any issues, please email [email protected].

  • How will I know if I am the winner?

If your article is selected as a winner, we will contact your school to let you know and arrange the delivery of any prize or certificate.

  • I attend an international school that follows the UK curriculum. Am I eligible for the competition?

Unfortunately, at this time the competition is only open to students at schools in the UK, or who are UK residents.

  • I am home schooled in the UK with no UK school teachers. Am I eligible for the competition?

Yes, as long as you are in the age range equivalent to Year 10-13. When you submit your article, you should select the year group that is equivalent to your age range. For the option which asks for the name of your school, please write “Home Educated”. Once you have submitted your article, please send an email to [email protected] so that we can contact you directly if your article is selected as the winner of the competition, and note that would need to speak to your parent or guardian to arrange delivery of your prize (as typically, we would send these to your school).

  • I have a great idea for an article, but I’m not sure it is relevant to the topic. What should I do?

Articles that show “outside of the box thinking” can be good for a number of reasons – they can grab the judges’ attention and can be really interesting for the audience. However, an article that is too far detached from the topic won’t be considered if it does not answer the question. Be sure to explain why you think your article is relevant if it’s not entirely obvious!

  • Please can you provide feedback on my article?

Due to the high number of submissions we receive, it is unlikely that we will be able to provide individual feedback about a submission.

  • My school would like to purchase a subscription to the Oxford Scientist magazine. Who should I contact?

If your school, sixth form or college would like to subscribe to The Oxford Scientist for just £15 per year, please contact [email protected].

  • What should I do if my question isn’t answered here?

If you have any questions about the competition, please email [email protected].

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