7th Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Final Presentation

Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics OUC purple and white logo

We’re Going National: Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics is pleased to announce the national roll-out of the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics. 

All Graduate and undergraduate students (full and part-time) currently enrolled at any UK university, in any subject, are invited to enter the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics by submitting an essay of up to 2000 words on any topic relevant to practical ethics.  Two undergraduate papers and two graduate papers will be shortlisted from those submitted to go forward to a public presentation and discussion, where the winner of each category will be selected.  The Judging panel for the final in 2022 will be confirmed in due course.

Practical ethics is concerned with what we should do in any given situation. It reflects on personal, professional, policy, and social choices and structures and holds them up to scrutiny. It may balance or prioritise different values and interests. Good practical ethics relies on in-depth understanding of the relevant real-world facts and issues: it is often interdisciplinary. There are many different approaches to practical ethics, and different ethical theories that could apply. The prize is open to students in any discipline.  The judges are looking for high-quality arguments. You won’t be expected to display any knowledge of philosophy or ethical theory, although it may help construct your argument. The judges are interested in the ethical problem or question that you identify and a clearly argued approach to addressing it. How do you get to your solution, and why is it the right course of action? Please see below for examples of past finalists and winners.

The winner from each category will receive a prize of £300, and the runner up £100. Revised versions of the two winning essays will be considered for publication in the Journal of Practical Ethics.

To enter, please submit your written papers by the end of Tuesday 15th February 2022 to rocci.wilkinson@philosophy.ox.ac.uk. Finalists will be notified on Tuesday 22nd February of selection. The public presentation will take place in 9th Week, Hilary term 2022, on Tuesday 15th March, from 5:30pm. Please save this presentation date, as you will need to attend if selected as a finalist.  

Detailed instructions

Stage 1: The Essay

The essay of up to 2000 words may cover any topic relevant to practical ethics. The question to be addressed should be stated clearly in bold at the outset. The focus of the marking will be on the quality and originality of your argument. References are therefore allowed but are not required.  The essay can draw upon existing published work but needs to be sufficiently original for it to be eligible for consideration of publication in the Journal of Practical Ethics.

Submissions should be prepared for blind review by our assessors. Please remove any identifying information from your manuscript (both as a pdf and a word document) and provide a title sheet on a separate file with the title of your essay, your name and contact details, including email. Please include a word count. Please note that essays exceeding 2000 words cannot be considered. Footnotes [and references] are not included in the word count, however footnotes should be kept to a minimum. All assessors will be blinded to the identity of contributors and software to detect plagiarism will be employed. 

Assessors will be asked to divide their marks to give 10% on the quality/originality of question posed; 40% originality of argument; and 50% quality of the argument. Scores and feedback will not be provided. The exception to this is the two winners if their papers are invited to be submitted to the Journal of Practical Ethics.

Stage 2: Presentation Event

The best two papers from each section will go to the final round, the final presentation event. We invite the public, all entrants, friends and family to join us at the final presentation. which in 2022 will be a hybrid event, before a panel of judges and the audience, the finalists will be asked to give a 10 minute presentation expanding on the key ideas of their paper. This will be followed by a 5 minute Q&A.

The panel will make a final judgement based on 75% weighting on the quality of the paper, and 25% from the presentation and question and answer session. 
After the presentation we invite the audience to join the finalists and judges at a drinks reception, during which the panel will announce the winners. Following which the finalists are invited to join the judging panel at a celebration dinner to be held in one of the Oxford colleges.

(Finalists from outside of Oxford will have their travel and accommodation provided to allow them to attend this event in person.)

Stage 3: The Festival of Arguments

The two winners from the prize will be invited to take part in an online Q&A, as part of the Oxford Uehiro Festival of Arguments, which will take place the following week, w/c March 19th 2022.  

The Prize

The winner of each category will be awarded a prize of £300. The runner up will win £100.

All finalists, as well as papers that receive an honorable mention, will also be considered for publication on the blog: Practical Ethics in the News. Winners and shortlisted entrants will be announced on the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics’ website and notified by email.