Established in 1854 by a gift of £200 from W.C. Wentworth, initially a medal was presented as a reward for the best essay in English prose. The Medal is now supplemented by a prize of $10,000. The competition is open to all students enrolled at the University of Sydney in the current year, except for previous winners of the Wentworth Medal. The award of the Medal is made annually by the Wentworth Medal Committee, provided that there is an entry of sufficient merit.
The topic or topics for the essay will be set, and the examiners of the essay will be appointed by a committee consisting of the Chair of the Academic Board, the Deans of the Faculties of Arts, Economics and Law and the Registrar, with the power to co-opt. The committee reserves the right to share the prize if there are two or more entries adjudged to be of equal, highest and sufficient merit.
The Medal seeks to reward an outstanding essay addressing the nominated question. In assessing the quality of the essay the panel will consider its clarity and accessibility, its originality- specifically its ability to shed new light on the given topic- and the quality of the argument upon which it is constructed. The essay should demonstrate a breadth of research, and be of high scholarly standard, with appropriate referencing.
Eligibility: All students enrolled at the University of Sydney in 2016, except for previous winners of the Wentworth Medal.
Value: Medal and $10,000
Topic for 2016: In 2016, an election year in both the United States and Australia, it is frequently claimed that democracy is in 'crisis'. Electorates in many liberal democracies have become increasingly alienated from the political process while a 24/7 media cycle feeds on a constant diet of polls and leadership speculation. Is it time for a fundamental reappraisal of the structure of our political institutions?
Length: Approximately 3000 words(not including referencing)
Cover Sheet: Your application should include a Cover Sheet and your submission. Please note that you are to use only a Nom de Plume on your submission. Applications should be sent electronically to with a reference to the Wentworth Medal in the email title (eg: 2016 Wentworth Medal submission – ‘your nom de plume’).
Closing Date: Early August - TBC