Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize 2021

The Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize, the Royal United Services Institute’s annual competition for original writing on contemporary issues of national and international defence and security, is now open to entries for 2021.

Dating back to 1874, the Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize reflects and reinforces the Institute's status as a uniquely placed platform for free-thinking debate on defence and security. Awards are made on the basis of originality, logical argument, sound analysis, style, clarity and conciseness.

This year, essays may be submitted for either of two prize categories – one for those currently in full-time education, and the other open to all. The winner in each category will receive an award of £1,000.

The competition is open to entrants of any nationality. Entries are particularly welcome from – but not exclusive to – members of the armed forces, both in the UK and abroad.

Essays may cover any topic related to national or international defence and security. We are keen to welcome submissions on as diverse a range of themes as possible, including but not limited to:

  • The re-emergence of economic warfare
  • Deglobalisation and food security
  • Migration in a global pandemic

View winners of the prize from previous years.

Entry submissions

Entries should be sent by email marked ‘Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize’ to, including in the message: full rank (where applicable); name; address; and which prize category the essay is being entered for.

The deadline for entries for the 2021 Essay Prize is Friday, 29 October 2021.


The rules and requirements for the 2021 Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize are as follows:

  • Authors may be of any nationality but must present their work in English. They need not be members of RUSI.
  • Work originating in academic organisations such as universities and military staff colleges is eligible.
  • Prizes will not generally be awarded to the same author in successive years.
  • Essays should not be more than 4,000 words in length excluding footnotes but will not be penalised if they are briefer.
  • Essays must be type-written and double spaced. The author's name should not be included on the essay. (The author's name will not be made available to the judges until after they have adjudicated.)

For further information please contact the competition manager, Simon Rankmore, at

Previous essay winners

2020 Winner: William D James

Between a Pandemic and a Hard Brexit: Grand Strategic Thinking in an Age of Nationalism, Renewed Geopolitical Competition and Human Insecurity

2019 Winner: Patrick Hinton

Strategic Culture: In Defiance of a Structural World Order

2018 Winner: Chris Hitchins

Can Biology Give Us the Information Edge that Physics Cannot?


Simon Rankmore



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