J Kenyon Mason Institute Essay Competition

Call for Essays

The J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law (MI) is pleased to invite undergraduate and postgraduate students to submit an essay for the annual J Kenyon Mason Institute Essay Prize.



The essay competition has a submission deadline of 23:59 GMT on Friday 2nd April, 2021. Winners will be announced via email in April 2021 (exact date TBC).


Where to submit

Please submit your essays to Dr Edward Dove, Lecturer in Law at the University of Edinburgh: edward.dove@ed.ac.uk.

The essay should be accompanied with a cover note which clearly indicates:

  1. your name as the essay competition entrant;
  2. the degree for which you are studying;
  3. your institution;
  4. that the submitted essay is being entered into the competition (either as part of the undergraduate or postgraduate essay category); and
  5. if part of the undergraduate essay category and previously written for a course, the date on which the essay was submitted to the course.


Essay topic

For the essay competition, you are invited to submit an essay, either newly written or previously written and submitted to one of your courses within the past academic year, that falls within the scope of the MI’s work on the linkages between medicine, life sciences, ethics and the law. You can read more about the MI’s work here.



You must be either:

  • Currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a university, or
  • Currently enrolled as a postgraduate (e.g. Masters or PhD student) at a university

Essays must be submitted through your institutional email account.


Formal criteria

  • All essays should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words, excluding essay title, cover note, and references (note: the reference style is at your discretion)
  • All essays must be written in English
  • Submitted work must be single-authored
  • Essays should be submitted as Word (.docx) or PDF (.pdf) files
  • You are allowed to submit to the competition one paper only in any given year


Criteria for judgement

From the pool of submitted essays in each category, a shortlist of three candidates will be made based on an assessment by an academic panel (the MI Essay Panel). Both undergraduate and postgraduate essays will be judged on the level of knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the clarity and style of writing, critical analysis and quality of argumentation, relevance, persuasive force and originality of approach. The potential to significantly expand, challenge or critique existing approaches of the topic which might lead to rethinking of the issue shall be considered a merit. The winner for each category will be decided by the MI Essay Panel. The Panel’s decision will be final; any feedback or comments will be at the Panel’s discretion.


MI Essay Panel composition

The MI Essay Panel will consist of three members of the Mason Institute Executive Committee, comprising the Deputy Director for Career Development and Training (Edward Dove) and two rotating members. The Panel will strive to have a gender balance and reflect different disciplinary backgrounds, ideally comprising law, bioethics, social science, medicine and natural science.



For each of the undergraduate and postgraduate category, there will be a cash prize to the winning essays at the undergraduate and postgraduate level: £150 (Winner). The shortlisted essays (i.e. the top 3) in both categories will be published on the Mason Institute website. Winning essays at the undergraduate and postgraduate level will be announced at in April 2021.

Any and all questions regarding the competition may be sent to edward.dove@ed.ac.uk.

Good luck!