CEU Philosophy Undergraduate Essay Competition

2nd CEU Philosophy Undergraduate Essay Competition

December 10, 2021

It was a great pleasure meeting you all! Many thanks to all who helped us in doing it once again. The winners have been announced!  

About the 2021 CEU Philosophy Undergraduate Essay Competition 

The Philosophy Department at Central European University invites students to its second Undergraduate Essay Competition, a timed essay-writing event on the 10th of December 2021 from 3pm5:30pm CET. See registration link below. See program here

  • Participation is open for all undergraduates. Students who have been already in an MA program cannot participate.
  • The essay event will be held in a form of a 90-minute-long invigilated online writing session. 
  • At the beginning of the essay event, participants will be given a selection of a few essay prompts, i.e., short quotations from philosophical works putting forth a thought-provoking idea. The topics will reflect some of the main areas of philosophy that our faculty specializes in.
  • Students must choose one prompt, identify a philosophical problem implicit in it, and write an essay explaining their coherent and well-argued position on the issue. The upper word limit for the essays is 1000 words (+/- 10%). Familiarity with the context of the quotation is not a requirement, instead, emphasis will be put on how well the student understood the problem at hand, as well as the clarity of thought and persuasiveness of the argument manifested by the essay.
  • Submissions will be reviewed and judged anonymously by members of our department. 


Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded for the most successful essays. In case the recipients then successfully apply to CEU Philosophy Department’s MA programs, the medals are accompanied by grants in the first year of studying at CEU in the following way: 

  • Gold medal: one-time grant of 300 EUR.
  • Silver medal: one-time grant of 200 EUR.
  • Bronze medal: one-time grant of 100 EUR.

Technical and data provision requirements: As the event is organized online, participants must have stable internet connection during the whole time of the competition and using a device with full audio and video connecting possibilities. If you participate, we will have to ask you to record your screen during the 90 minutes of writing, to secure fairness of competition. All personal data from non-recipients as well as all recordings will be deleted after we assessed the submissions.  

To prepare students for the competition, we will hold an essay writing workshop on the 3rd of December 2021, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. CEU students can join offline in the Auditorium, external students can join via Zoom. Registration for the workshop is open for those who register to the competition. During the essay writing workshop, we will look at sample essays to discuss how to analyze essay prompts, how to structure your essay and how to construct your own argument.  

Registering is necessary, free of charge, latest by the 1st of December, 48 hours before the workshop. Call will be closed once the threshold of 100 participants has been reached. Those who register will receive a Zoom link to the competition and the workshop in a confirmation email. Get in touch with us if you did not receive the link (check your spam folder first). 

Update (Dec 09, 6pm, CET): Registration still closed. Come back next year in November when we plan to do it all again!

Update: Nov 23 (6pm, CET): Registration now closed. We reached the threshold of 100 participants. Should we reopen the registration (if people drop out), we will do that here, at the latest 24 hour before the latest registration cut-off date (Dec 01, 3pm). 

Feedback from participants

I really enjoyed the whole thing, even more than I believed I was going to. Especially hanging out in the online cafe space afterwards – it was great to chat to fellow philosophy students from around the world and the rest of Europe. Thank you so much! I'll really promote it at my university for future years. 

It was a great event because of the personal kindness of the organizers. They helped us in all things they could. A great thanks and congrats for the organization. 

The competition was challenging and enjoyable. Thank you very much for organizing it, and please do more competitions or events like this.

Feedback from student graders 

It was a super helpful experience as I got to know what things I need to focus on in my own essays. I realised how difficult it actually is to maintain a good balance of being charitable and also being critical at the same time. It was certainly enjoyable! Looking forward more such opportunities in the future :)) 

I really had fun reading the essays. Also, participating in the grading workshop made me realize what the criteria for a good paper are, which can help me a lot in the future. 

Among many other virtues of the PUEC grading, discussing essays together on the spatial chat stands out. Particularly, evaluating the texts with another grader with more experience helped to understand which parts of texts deserve attention and which do not; when it is relevant to be picky about the concepts and when one should focus on the main idea the author attempts to convey. Apart from that, it brings a lot of pleasure whilst your points of view match and thus complement each other with additional details, noticed weak spots, etc. 

Feedback from faculty 

"It was refreshing and encouraging to read so interesting and vastly different takes on the prompts of our essay competition." István Bodnár 

"I was quite impressed with the quality of some of the essays and enjoyed hearing my colleagues' perspectives on them." Asya Passinsky 

"I was impressed by the independence of thinking evident in the essays and the many valuable insights and connections made." David Weberman

Email: puec@ceu.edu  

(Poster by: Nóvé Soma; Picture by:  drobotdean - www.freepik.com)