Writing competitions

Below is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing competitions currently open to UK and Irish writers — and some to writers worldwide.

Competitions whose terms and conditions request copyright in entries submitted — or make other unreasonable demands — are not included. T&Cs are usually checked, but some copyright-grabbers may occasionally slip through. Please read them carefully. 

For advice on entering writing competitions, you might like Cathy Bryant’s How to Win Writing Competitions



29th June 2018
Impress Prize
Book proposal and sample chapter, 6,000 words. (Fiction, as well as non-fiction.)

30th June 2018
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted (as well as fiction), 3,000 words maximum.



13th July 2018
Wasafiri Life Writing Prize.
Life writing.

31st July 2018
Robert Fear’s 2018 Travel Stories Competition
Various modest cash prizes / publication.

Park Publications Article Competition
“Reflections on Writing”.

I Must Be Off! – Travel Writing Competition
Travel articles, stories and reflections, 1,000 words.

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Open to students whose 19th birthday falls after the deadline date (i.e. 18s and under). Essay categories in philosophy, politics, economics and history.

Guild of Health Writers’ Health Writing Awards
Articles in various health categories. £750 each. £20 entry free for non-members

Forward/emagazine Student Critics Competition 2018
For a critical appreciation of one of the poems shortlisted in the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2018 Shortlist. Open to young people and teachers.



28th August 2018
World Congress of Faiths Essay Competition
Theme: Can interfaith dialogue achieve any lasting value for society? Approx. 3000 words. £300.

30th August 2018
The Tony Lothian Prize 2018
For the best proposal for a first biography.

31st August 2018
Association of Christian Writers Journalism Competition
For a topical, well researched article, not necessarily with Christian slant.



1st September 2018
The Planet Essay Competition
Open to under 30s. Broad brief. 1,500-2,000 words. £200 prize.

16th September 2018
Youth Essay Competition
In answer to the question: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

30th September 2018
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize
For the “best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth”.



1st October 2018
The Royal Institute of Philosophy essay prize.
On philosophy and international relations.

31st October 2018
Senior Travel Expert’s Heritage Writing Competition
£100, plus 10 x £10 Amazon vouchers. 750 words on theme of heritage.

1st November 2018
The Philosophical Quarterly’s Essay Prize
Theme: The philosophy of Derek Parfit

15th December 2018
The Institute of Information Law’s “Science Fiction & Information Law” Essay Competition
For essays which “reflect on our possible data-driven future, where data has been firmly established as an economic asset and new, data-driven smart technologies can change the way we live, work, love, think and vote”

21st December 2018
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize.
8,000-10,000 words on some aspect of Scottish women’s or gender history.


FURTHER AHEAD … but unconfirmed

NB: Most of the following are included here on the basis of having run in the previous year, but are provisional or as yet unconfirmed for the upcoming date specified.

August 2018
W&N Student Essay Prize

September 2018
Writers in Oxford Young Oxfordshire Writers Competition
Bright Blue’s The Tamworth Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
The Garden Media Guild Awards.
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
Cassandra Jardine Prize, open to young women journalists
Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards.

October 2018
The Portobello Prize. For ‘new voices in narrative non-fiction’
The Armchair Mountaineer Wild Writing Competition
Scottish History Network School Essay Prize. Open to High School students only
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize.

November 2018
Words and Women Prose Competition. 2,200 words or under. Includes memoir / life-writing / creative non-fiction (plus fiction).
Bradt Travel Guide’s New Travel Writer of the Year
The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism.

December 2018
Michael Terence Publishing Short Story Competition
Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival Writing Competition
Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Awards
New Media Writing Prize.

January 2019
Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize. Biennial essay prize. £20,000 top prize; 5 x £1,000 runners-up.
The Orwell Prize. For political writing.
The Fresher Writing Prize.
The Keats-Shelley Prize.
The Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize
Fish Short Memoir Contest
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland
Guild of Food Writers Awards 2018

February 2019
Northern Writers Awards.
New Welsh Writing Awards.
Coram Voice’s Voices 2018 Writing Competition
Spread the Word Life Writing Prize.

March 2019
City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition 2017–18
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
University of Warwick’s The School of Modern Languages and Cultures’ Two Chairs Creative Writing Competition
Words for the Wounded Prize.
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize. For unpublished writers. For a proposal of a book-length essay. £3,000.
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Wainwright Prize. For writing on nature and the outdoors.
Thresholds International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition.
Wavell Writes: Essay Writing Competition 2018
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Essay Prize.
Methodist Women ‘At the Heart’ Writing Competition.

April 2019
The Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition
Hugh Miller Writing Competition – Children’s and adult categories. For any form of writing inspired by fossils in Scotland.
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition. Various categories, including memoir, comedy, travel (and fictional forms).

May 2019
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
John Murray Prize with the Spectator
Cancer World Journalism Award
Tacchi Morris: The Page Is Printed
Transitions Abroad Writers’ Contest

National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition
Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals’ Creative Writing Prize
Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize

June 2019
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People

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