Judging Criteria

Across the 25 categories, the judging panels will focus on the following qualities in each paper/project in addition to assessing the 100-300 word abstract that must accompany each entry.


To ensure a fair judging process, all papers and projects submitted to the Undergraduate Awards must not include the entrants personal details within the body of their paper/project or within the title of the file.

While the Undergraduate Awards team will have your personal details on file from your submission form, these details are not given to the judging panels. Each paper is assigned an Entry ID number which is used to assist the Judging Chairs in identifying each paper. Through the Entry ID number, the Undergraduate Awards team are able to match each paper to the corresponding entrant.

Judges will not consider papers that have violated the anonymity policy.


The extent to which the essay preserves clear and consistent focus on key concepts/terms.

  • The paper/project must answer the question/adhere to the title.
  • The focus should remain throughout the essay/paper.
  • The argument should be relevant and appropriate to the title, which should be accurate, succinct and clearly indicating the topic, issue or question under discussion.


The ability to present a balanced, logical, well-developed argument and to reach a considered personal conclusion.

  • The essay should show an appreciation of important issues and concepts.
  • The argument should be perceptive and persuasive.
  • The chosen argument should demonstrate innovation and independent thinking.


The degree of knowledge and use of primary sources.

  • The paper/project should show the ability to select and apply evidence judiciously.
  • Primary sources should be appropriate to the title and argument of the essay/paper.
  • There should be a thorough understanding of sources and relevant contexts.
  • The evidence should be presented and assessed most effectively.
  • References, footnotes and bibliography should be presented correctly and in accordance with the usual scholarly conventions.
  • The bibliography should be clear, comprehensive and follow a uniform structure.
  • When evidence is presented in a form other than text, it should be clear and unambiguous.


The ability to clearly communicate appropriate knowledge, understanding and insight, using appropriate terminology and fluent, accurate expression.

  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation must be used correctly (especially in prominent texts, e.g. the title).
  • Arguments should be effectively organised and structured, including correct use of paragraphing.
  • Referencing – in whatever form is employed – should be uniform, clear and applied appropriately throughout the essay.


The extent and quality of engagement with secondary sources.

  • The extent to which sources are used should demonstrate the effort the student went to complete the paper/project.
  • Secondary sources should be appropriate to the title and argument of the paper/project.
  • Originality in the choice of secondary sources is favoured.
  • These sources should support the argument and remain relevant.


The degree of originality.

  • The student should show their ability to articulate independent opinions and judgments that are informed by others’ opinions and interpretations.
  • The student’s work should be deemed innovative, in that it presents a new argument, perspective or solution.
  • In appropriate categories, the potential for commercialisation should be rewarded

Cases of plagiarism will result in instant disqualification.

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