Peckard Memorial Prize

Prize history

Peter Peckard Prize TrophyIn 1784, Peter Peckard, the then Master of Magdalene, was elected as Vice Chancellor of the University. In this capacity, it fell to him to set the subjects for the essays for the undergraduates’ prizes of the University. He chose the topic, “Is it ever right to make slaves of others against their will?”

Thomas Clarkson, at the time a free scholar of St John’s College won the prize for an essay involving a careful review of the horrifying realities of slavery. Clarkson was so moved by what he discovered that, soon after, he decide to dedicate his whole life to fighting its abolition. It was Clarkson who later recruited William Wilberforce to lead the battle in Parliament.

The Peckard Memorial Prize was created to mark these events and was established by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown and Professor Sir Richard Jolly in honour of Peter Peckard. The prize is awarded every year for an essay (or equivalent contribution) on some egregious form of human exploitation in the world today and the actions needed to eliminate it. Special attention may be given to the role of the United Nations.


Submissions are welcomed from all undergraduate members of Cambridge University. Collective entries by a University or College Society are also welcomed. Essays must be between 6,000 and 10,000 words (excluding the bibliography: figures, tables, etc) and must be submitted electronically by email.

Entries open in the second half of the Lent term and must be received by the closing date of 1 July, the winner will be formally announced on the day of the Mary Magdalene Feast.

Essay prize

The author of the winning essay or contribution will receive £1000 and a medal. The winner will be invited to an award ceremony at Magdalene and meet the donors of the prize as well as members of the selection committee.

The winner and The Master and Senior Tutor of the winner’s College are invited to an award presentation ceremony in the Peter Peckard Room at Magdalene College hosted by the Magdalene Master, Senior Tutor and to meet the donors of the prize as well as senior Fellows and members of the prize selection committee.

How the winner is chosen

Entries are judged and the winner selected by the judging committee. Members of the committee, chaired by the Master, are Dr Martin, Dr Bennison, Professor Harper, Dr Burchell, and Dr Watkins. additional Fellows may be appointed and consulted if necessary.

Past winners


Author: Eduardo Baptista (Jesus College, Cambridge)
Essay: Totalitarianism exported: North Korean Labourers in the EU

2016 Peckard Prize winner Eduardo BaptistaEduardo receiving his prize from the Master Dr Williams at the 2016 award presentation ceremony


Author: Jessica Pham (Downing College, Cambridge)
Essay: Protecting Trafficking Victims from Prosecution: Analysis of the Modern Slavery Bill Defence


Author: Ros Beal (Trinity College, Cambridge)
Essay: Visualising human trafficking in anti-trafficking campaigns



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