John Locke Essay Competition


Any nationality, 18 years old or younger

Type(s) of Writing

Philosophical, Argumentative

Related Subject(s)

Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology, and Law

Expected # of References


Word Limit



June 30th 2024


The John Locke Essay Competition inspires philosophical thinkers from across the globe to share their ideas and openly challenge controversial topics. By encouraging students to craft essays that express their independent thoughts, the depth of their academic inquiry and exploration, and capture previously unrepresented perspectives, the John Locke Essay Competition is the place where new ideas meet time-tested conflicts. 

Contestants have the opportunity to address prompts in categories such as Economics, Philosophy, Politics, History, Law, Theology, and Psychology. Although every year, the essay prompts change, John Locke consistently encourages students to bring their unique moral, philosophical, and rational beliefs to every competition cycle. While an essay prompt may exist in the History category, John Locke asks its contestants to examine the topic from an unconventional approach and write an essay that you could never find in a textbook or previously published journal. Students typically write essays anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 words—enough space to persuasively develop their arguments. By participating in the John Locke Essay Competition, students get the chance to forget about memorization—and can instead examine where they stand and what they believe. 

The J&B Essay Consulting team works with students to help them express and polish their ideas in written form, honing their knowledge and logic. As students work one-on-one with a team of experienced J&B consultants, they get the opportunity to break down research, analysis, and critical thinking to prepare them for a future of out-of-the-box ideation and innovative essay writing.    


Essay Prompts


Q1. Do we have any good reasons to trust our moral intuition?​​

Q2. Do girls have a right to compete in sporting contests that exclude boys?

​ Q3. Should I be held responsible for what I believe? 


Q1. Is there such a thing as too much democracy?​

Q2. Is peace in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip possible?​​

Q3. When is compliance complicity? 


Q1. What is the optimal global population? ​

Q2. Accurate news reporting is a public good. Does it follow that news agencies should be funded from taxation? ​

Q3. Do successful business people benefit others when making their money, when spending it, both, or neither? 


Q1. Why was sustained economic growth so rare before the later 18th century and why did this change?​

Q2. Has music ever significantly changed the course of history?​

Q3. Why do civilisations collapse? Is our civilisation in danger? 


Q1. According to a study by four British universities, for each 16-point increase in IQ, the likelihood of getting married increases by 35% for a man but decreases by 40% for a woman. Why?

​ Q2. There is an unprecedented epidemic of depression and anxiety among young people. Can we fix this? How?​

Q3. What is the difference between a psychiatric illness and a character flaw? 


Q1. “I am not religious, but I am spiritual.” What could the speaker mean by “spiritual”?​​

Q2. Is it reasonable to thank God for protection from some natural harm if He is responsible for causing the harm?​

Q3. Does God reward those who believe in him? If so, why? 


Q1. When, if ever, should a company be permitted to refuse to do business with a person because of that person’s public statements?​

Q2. In the last five years British police have arrested several thousand people for things they posted on social media. Is the UK becoming a police state?​

Q3. Your parents say that 11pm is your bedtime. But they don’t punish you if you don’t go to bed by 11pm. Is 11pm really your bedtime? 


Q1. Does winning a free and fair election automatically confer a mandate for governing? ​

Q2. Has the anti-racism movement reduced racism?​

Q3. Is there life after death?​​

Q4. How did it happen that governments came to own and run most high schools, while leaving food production to private enterprise?

​​ Q5. When will advancing technology make most of us unemployable? What should we do about this?​​ Q6. Should we trust fourteen-year-olds to make decisions about their own bodies?

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