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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Bell Burnell Society Essay Competition 2023

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    28 Apr
    Murray Edwards College Bell Burnell Society Essay Competition 2023

    The Murray Edwards College Bell Burnell Society is welcoming entries for its annual Essay Competition. The competition is open to any Sixth Form student (or equivalent). We encourage entries from interested students studying any combination of subjects who are eager to develop and showcase their independent study and writing skills.

    Please answer one of the following questions:

    1. Is gene therapy the future of medical advancement?
    2. How do you define intelligence?
    3. Is technology to blame for the accelerated rate of global warming and the deterioration of our climate?
    4. How will quantum technology change our world by 2100?

    Essays should be between 1,000 and 3,000 words, and should be referenced in a standard format. More information is available in the Terms and Conditions.


    The deadline for essay submission is the 26th July, 12 Noon. Please send your essay as well as a completed Entry Form (including your full name, school address and email address) to with the email subject 'Submission for Essay Competition 2023'.

    We aim to decide on a winner by the end of August.


    1st place- £50
    2nd place- £30
    3rd place- £20

    Judging Criteria

    • Your essay will be judged on the following criteria:
    • Clear presentation of information and focus on answering the question
    • Scientific accuracy of the essay
    • Creativity and originality in approach to the question
    • Demonstration of understanding beyond the AS/A level syllabus
    • Use of examples and evidence
    • Range, credibility and validity of sources used
    • Spelling, punctuation and grammar

    Top Tips

    • Plan your essay before you start and use a structure that is clear, coherent, and presents the information in an engaging way
    • There is no need to meet the upper word limit — try to keep your points concise and highlight key pieces of evidence, rather than telling us everything you know about the topic
    • Consider several different approaches to the question and try to include a range of ideas in your essay
    • Use reliable scientific sources to back up your claims, such as textbooks, articles from New Scientist or BBC News Science & Environment, and scientific articles
    • Feel free to use subheadings to help you structure your essay clearly
    • You can use diagrams to illustrate key points — remember to include a caption and refer to your diagram in the essay
    • Include a list of references at the end of your essay and make sure you keep your referencing style consistent — you can use this website as a guide:
    • There is no need to cite facts from your AS/A level textbook
    • Try to avoid colloquial language or a conversational tone
    • Make sure your formatting is consistent throughout (e.g. same font)
    • Make sure you proofread your work before submitting!

    Good luck!