The Afro-Caribbean Tyler Prize is a unique essay competition, sponsored by the Tyler Trust and Pembroke College, Oxford, where participants are given the opportunity to select a question from 1 of 3 categories (Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences) and have their original responses marked by an Oxford Professor specialising in their chosen field!

The programme however, is much more than just an essay competition. It consists of 3 skills workshops (10th November, 8th December, 12th January), led by mentors, who are current or former Afro-Caribbean students from Oxford. Each workshop will break down the whole essay writing process into sizeable chunks, so each pupil feels equipped and ready to produce an outstanding piece of work.

The essay competition is a vehicle to raise the aspirations and attainment of Afro-Caribbean students who are capable of academic excellence. Our aim is not only that you develop critical thinking and essay writing skills, but also confidencein your ability to reach top academic institutions. Not only will your mentor guide you through your essay, they will be able to give you general advice about university applications, study skills and an insight into their experience as an Afro-Caribbean student at a top university.

In recognition of the hard work and achievements of all participants, we look forward to hosting a celebration day at Pembroke College Oxford (travel provided) on the 22nd February, which will include lunch, tours of Oxford colleges, a Q&A panel with current students, a keynote speaker and of course the awarding of monetary prizes for first place and runner up essay writers.


The students who are accepted would be expected to attend:

Workshop 1: Reading, Planning and ConceptualizingWorkshop 2: Writing and Referencing Workshop 3: 1-to-1 Essay Feedback Drop-in SessionsCelebration Day in Oxford

A selection of last year’s essay titles

What evidence is there to support the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis for the migration of modern humans?How do organisms generate colour and use it to increase their fitness?Describe the different forms of renewable energy and explain the best ways they can be applied to developing countries.
“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” ― Chinua Achebe. Discuss.Is truth merely a shared consensus of what is right? (Or) Is there a truth?'They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity - like yours - the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar.' (Heart of Darkness, CONRAD). Discuss the impact of ideas and/or descriptions of the primitive in literature.
Social Sciences
‘To control a people’s culture is to control their tools of self-definition in relationship to others’ (NGUGI WA THIONG’O). Discuss.“The era of racial politics has come and gone, class is the real issue now.” Discuss.The songs of a nation shape the nation. Discuss.

How does the programme work?

The programme requires each student to select a question from a range of categories that is of most interest to them, and to complete an essay that will be marked by an Oxford Professor specialising in their chosen field. Each pupil will also be paired with a mentor, who will be their point of call for advice and guidance on the essay, all the way up until the essay deadline.

The writer of the best essay in each category will receive a prize of £100, and a runner-up in each category will receive a prize of £50, as judged by a Tutorial Fellow. Prizes will be awarded at a celebration day, held in Oxford at Pembroke College towards the end of February (date tbc) which will include lunch, tours of Oxford colleges, a Q&A panel with current students and a keynote speaker. This scheme is sponsored by The Tyler Trust, promoting education and providing facilities for experiment and training in educational principles and methods.

Our objectives:

1. Engage academically gifted black students from working class backgrounds in an intellectually rigorous program
2. Expose students to wider high-level reading that is both culturally relevant and complementary to their curriculum
3. Enable students to articulate their viewpoints confidently and comprehensively in written and spoken forms
4. Equip students with the tools and resources to excel in studies
5. Encourage competitive applications to Oxford and other elite universities, with full support at every stage of the process


Academically capable, with GCSE/predicated A Level grades so far that do not exclude the student from making a competitive application to Oxford.Students engaged and interested in their subjects.Students that will most benefit from intervention (e.g. lack of previous resources).Any subject welcome. The majority of subjects at Oxford are essay based, including biological and medical sciences, and so the essay writing prize can be of benefit to all.

Students can also apply via their school.

The application deadline is the 20th October (extended).

Current timeline:

20th OctoberApplication Deadline (extended)
10th NovemberWorkshop 1: Reading, Planning and Conceptualizing
1st DecemberPlan and introduction hand-in
8th DecemberWorkshop 2: Writing and Referencing
5th JanuaryFirst draft hand-in
12th JanuaryWorkshop 3: 1:1 Essay Feedback Drop-in Sessions
26th JanuaryFinal Draft hand-in
22nd FebruaryCelebration Day at Oxford

Last year we largely worked with Brampton Manor Academy based in East Ham, and Westminster Academy, and this year are looking to expand our reach.

Schools can forward us students based on the criteria outlined on the students page. We’ll need the following:
Name, email, gender, ethnicityGCSE gradesA Level subjects Subjects planned to study at university Short paragraph written by the student detailing why they want to take part in the essay prize, allowing us to assess personal enthusiasm for the program, and have a little information on their writing style.
If you’re a teacher, or a student, at a school based in East or South London which you think will benefit from being involved in this programme, please contact our Recruitment Officer at

What is the aim of the programme?

To address low attainment amongst young black people, relative to their white peersTo address a lack of confident understanding of the Oxford application process and how to competitively navigate it amongst young black people

How do we look to achieve these aims?

Addressing a lack of resources available to many young black people Raising self-belief and motivating towards high attainment
Each mentor will receive 5 students, acting as their point of call for advice and guidance on the essay, from the initial workshop all the way up till the essay deadline.

Key dates

Mentor Training session - Sunday 4th November 2018
First student workshop (Reading and essay planning) - Saturday 10th November 2018

What would you do?

At the first student workshop, the mentors’ role will be to collaboratively lead workshops and connect with your mentees. The aim is to strike a balance between encouragement that is holistic, and guidance that is specific, accurate and comprehensive to ensure the student workshop is most successful. Mentors will receive a PowerPoint presentation and learning materials to go through with their subject group. We will go through this in more depth at the first mentor training session.

After the workshop, mentors are expected to send the initial email to their mentees to let them know that you will be on hand to answers any questions mentees may have about the essay competition, their studies or Oxford in general. Throughout the programme, mentors are required to check up on their students every few weeks, to see how they’re doing and how to best support them throughout the programme.

The sign up for workshop mentors has now closed. However, applications for Virtual Mentors are still open. As a Virtual Mentor, you would not be required to attend any of the workshops in London, but would instead be paired with up to 2 of our participants, to provide written feedback on their essay plans and drafts, and to answer any general questions about your studies and life at Oxford. If you would like to apply, please complete this form.

Meet the team


I'm Hope, and as a black student at Oxford University myself I’d grown tired of the distinct lack of people from backgrounds like mine and so with the help of my college, the Tyler Trust and other Afro-Caribbean students at Oxford, we designed a unique programme that aims to enhance key academic skills, reward exceptional achievement and build cross-generational networks between high achieving black students of different ages. By boosting the attainment, aspiration and perception of self among young black people we aim to impart the skills required to not only make competitive applications to Oxford, but to analyse, critique and shape the world around them.


Hey! My name is Victor, and I'm a first-year DPhil (PhD) at Merton College doing Interdisciplinary Bioscience.

Oxford is a place that I have enjoyed very much, and I know that given the right tools and opportunities, young Afro-Caribbean students will be able to flourish here. I hope that they’ll leave the programme inspired, with a changed perception of Oxford that will drive them to achieve their very best.

Senior Coordinator

My name is Zakaria Jama, and I’m in second year studying Engineering Science at Pembroke College.

I enjoy being a part of any initiative which aims to increase access and outreach. ACT intends to inspire and increase the attainment of Caribbean and African students, and that’s something I would love to be behind.


Hi, I'm Yethrib and I'm in my third year studying Medicine at Oxford. Growing up, I didn't know much about Oxford or top universities as a whole. I think the AC Tyler Prize is an incredible opportunity to learn more about university studies, applications and life, so I'm really excited to be part of the committee.

Mentor Coordinator

Hi, I'm Ephraim and I went to state comprehensive school in South London. I'm keen to ensure that black underrepresentation is addressed at Oxford and that this place is more accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Junior Coordinator

My name’s Desmond, and I’m a visiting student at Pembroke from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. A university student in the US, I believe that the ACTyler prize is such an important program given that as Black students, we are never taught the history we need to radically change our future. It is up to us, when in spaces not created for us, to make sure that we aren’t perpetuating the very same systems which are built on our exploitation while we are within them, and this starts with education, I got involved with the ACTyler prize as someone born in the US, because I believe that as Black people we face similar barricades to “success” all around the world.

Junior Coordinator

I’m Michaela James and I’m a third-year medical student at Oxford University. I got involved in the Afro-Caribbean Tyler Prize as I believe there should be no barriers preventing a gifted individual from reaching their full potential. I know this will be instrumental in empowering the young black minds it influences, and a step in the right direction for increasing the presence of the African and Caribbean community at this university.

Communications Officer

I’m Ebrubaoghene, in my second year studying English Language and Literature at The Queen’s College. As soon as I found out about the Tyler Prize, I was keen to get involved because I believe that unless we give disadvantaged African and Caribbean students the same advantages in applying to university as their white counterparts, through academic mentorship and guidance, we can’t truly begin to address the systemic inequality that leaves Black students so underrepresented at our country’s top institutions.

Publicity Officer

Hey, my name’s Ebubechi and I’m a 3rd year studying Medicine at Pembroke College, Oxford. It’s no secret that there’s a deficit of ethnic minority students at Oxford, and programmes that aim to target this inequality need to focus on every stage of the education system, as well as the admissions process. The Afro-Caribbean Tyler Essay Prize does this, encouraging young African and/or Caribbean students to think outside of the box, exactly what Oxford and other higher education institutions are looking for. We want you guys to produce a piece of work you’re proud of, as well as getting an insight from us on what it’s like to be a black student at Oxford.