Tom Rocks Maths: Essay Competition 2024

This competition is now closed.

This exciting competition asks students of all ages and abilities to explain their favourite mathematical topic in an essay aimed at a non-specialist audience. Originally launched in 2020 as a partnership between Tom Rocks Maths and St Edmund Hall, the competition aims to provide the participants with the opportunity to communicate complex ideas in an understandable manner, and to encourage them to engage with maths beyond any curriculum. 

Competition details

There are no eligibility requirements, all you need is a passion for maths and a flair for writing to participate! The closing date is Monday 1st April 2024 and the showcase of entries (including the announcement of the winners) will take place throughout summer 2024. 

There are two strands of entry:

  • 16-18's (student); and
  • Over 18's (adult)

Please note: A ‘student' is defined as anyone who is still studying full-time at school or college, university students fall into the ‘adult’' category.

There is no word limit for the essays, but as a guideline 1000-2000 words is sufficient. All entries must be submitted using the online form as PDF or Microsoft Word documents.

The winners will be selected by Dr Tom Crawford, Public Engagement Lead and Departmental Lecturer, and the creator of the award-winning ’Tom Rocks Maths’. All entries will be published on the Tom Rocks Maths website as part of the essay showcase. 


The student prizewinner will receive a cash prize of £100 alongside the publication of their winning essay on the University website. 

The adult prizewinner will receive free registration to an online live-time weekly class (WOW) of their choosing and the publication of their winning essay on the University website. The full list of courses available can be found here.

Choosing your essay topic

The mathematical topic of your essay can be anything you choose, but if you’re struggling to come up with ideas, here are a few examples to get you started:

Previous years' entries:

Previous editions of the competition have received extremely high numbers of excellent submissions, all of which can be found at the links below:

If you have any questions about the competition or would like some more information, please contact Tom at

Data policy

Personal data

Personal data is information that relates to you. In the course of completing this Tom Rocks Maths: Essay Competition submission form, you have provided the Department with information about yourself, which is known as personal data.

What will the Department do with your data?

The Department will collect, process, share, and use personal data for the purposes of notifying you if you are successful in the competition. You will only be notified shortly after the competition closes on Monday 1 April 2024. The Department will normally only discuss your personal information with you, unless you have nominated a third party.


This information will be retained until the winner of the competition has been announced, after which it will be securely deleted.

Legal Basis of Processing

The legal basis for processing your information is that this processing is necessary to notify you if you have been successful in the competition.

Read our full Privacy Policy terms.