The Institute for Government Essay Competition 2016

Essay graphic

The Institute for Government Essay Competition 2016 is now closed and the winners have been announced

The Institute for Government is an independent charity which seeks to act as a catalyst for inspiring the best in government. We spark ideas, generate debate, challenge preconceptions, bring experience to bear and make new connections to improve government for the benefit of society. The Institute's essay competition aims to find the best ideas for improving UK government from current undergraduate and master’s students.

This year, we asked for essays of up to 2,000 words in answer to this question:

If you were made Head of the Civil Service tomorrow, what would your priorities be?

The competition was open to anyone currently studying for a master's or undergraduate degree in any subject at a UK university.

Find out who the winners are. The winning essays will be published our website later this year.

Prizes (for students):

  • 1st Prize: £500
  • 2nd Prize: £250
  • 3rd Prize: £100.

Prizes (for the university department that the student is studying in):

  • 1st Prize: £1,000
  • 2nd Prize: £500.


  • Peter Riddell, Director of the Institute for Government
  • Dr Patrick Diamond, Lecturer in Politics at Queen Mary University of London
  • Jane Dudman, Editor, Guardian Public Leaders and Housing Networks
  • Julia Goldsworthy, former Liberal Democrat MP and an advisor to Nick Clegg under the Coalition
  • Bernadette Kelly, Director General of the Rail Executive


Last year, we asked students what they would do to make Government more effective. The winner, Kristopher Cawood of the University of Cambridge, made a convincing argument for ministers from outside of Parliament. Runner up Raymond Kennedy from LSE said we needed an internal ‘Government Consultancy Company’, bringing new ideas into departments without relying on the private sector. (Download links to each of these are available on this page.)


Competition rules:

The competition is open to anyone currently studying for a undergraduate or master's level postgraduate degree at a UK university. The Institute encourages entries from across the range of disciplines. Entrants should submit an original 2,000 word essay in English answering the question above. The word limit includes substantive footnotes but not references or a bibliography. The best entries should demonstrate clarity, critical thought, and conviction - and offer ideas which reflect the Institute for Government's values of being innovative, rigorous, impartial and trusted. Entrants consent to the terms and conditions below by submitting their entry.

For enquiries, please contact:

Full terms and conditions:

  1. This competition is open to any full-time or part-time or distance-learning current undergraduate or postgraduate masters degree student registered at a UK university in any subject. Current or former employees of the Institute for Government, or members of their immediate family, may not apply.
  2. All information detailing how to enter this competition forms part of these terms and conditions. It is a condition of entry that all rules are accepted as final. Submission of an entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions,
  3. Essays must be in English and be no longer than 2,000 words including footnotes but excluding references and bibliography.
  4. All entries must be received by midnight on 31st January 2016.
  5. Entries must be the work of the individual submitting them and must not have been published elsewhere or have won a prize in any other competition. It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that their entry does not infringe the copyright of any third party or any laws.
  6. Copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the award-winning entries will vest in the Institute of Government. The Institute for Government shall be entitled to an indemnity from the author against claims for copyright infringement, defamation, or other proceedings, and any profits arising from publication by the Institute for Government shall be the property of the Institute for Government. The moral rights of the author will be acknowledged.
  7. Only one entry allowed per person. Late, ineligible, incomplete or corrupt entries will not be accepted. No responsibility can be accepted for lost entries and proof of transmission will not be accepted as proof of receipt. Entries must not be sent through agencies or third parties.
  8. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The judges reserve the right to not award any or all prizes, and will have discretion to award entries as 'highly commended'.
  9. The first-prize-winning entrant will win £500. Second prize will be £250, and third prize £100. 
  10. The academic department in which the first-prize winning entrant is studying will receive £1,000.  The academic department in which the second-prize winning entrant is studying will receive £500.  If the first- or second-prize-winning entrant is studying in more than one department, they will designate one of them to receive the prize.
  11. The award winners will be notified by 1st April 2016.
  12. The award winners may be required to take part in publicity.
  13. The winner's name may be disclosed to anyone who writes within one month after the published date by which winners will be announced (1st April 2016), enclosing a stamped addressed envelope to Institute for Government, 2 Carlton Gardens, London, SW1Y 5AA. The winner's name will also be published on the Institute for Government website.
  14. These rules may be discontinued or amended by the Institute for Government in any way and at any time, and no entrant shall have any right or claim under the rules for any work he or she may be preparing at the time of such discontinuance or amendment.