School Science Writing Competition FAQs

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

The judges are scientific researchers and communicators at the University of Oxford. They will assess your essay based on topic, relevance, writing style and grammar, interest to a general audience, and factual accuracy. You should remember that our audience is quite broad, ranging from GCSE students to PhD students, and even some professors! You should try 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 you are writing about.

  • Can my 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.

  • Can I include a bibliography?

A bibliography is not a requirement of the competition. However, if you wish to include a list of articles you used at the end of your essay, these will not count towards the word limit.

  • Is my year group eligible? What about Scotland and Northern Ireland? 

You 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 you skipped or repeated a year group, but are in the qualifying year groups, you are also eligible to take part (ie. if you are 19 years old but in Year 13 in England).

  • Can I include images in my article?

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

  • Can I write an article with my friend?

We cannot accept articles that have been co-authored. Your article must be entirely your 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.

  • Can I submit more than one article?

We will only accept one submission per applicant. In the event that you accidentally submit your article twice, we will accept only the last article that you submit.

  • I made a mistake when I uploaded my article! Can I upload it again?

Yes. We will accept only the last article written by each student, so if you made a mistake, you can simply fill out the form again and send the correct version. If you are worried about having submitted your article incorrectly, you can email [email protected] to make sure we have the correct version!

  • How will I know if I am the winner?

We do not store any of your contact information when you submit your article. Therefore, 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. 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].