We would like to invite UK Year 11 & Year 12 students to produce an original piece of work relating to the life and/or legacy of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) informed by original sources. The competition is in honour of the late Sir Martin Gilbert, the great historian and Churchill biographer.

Entries may take the form of an essay, a case study, an investigation, a comparison, or any other format you like that allows for a scholarly assessment of an aspect of Sir Winston Churchill’s life, incorporating the use of primary sources. The work submitted can be on any aspect of Sir Winston Churchill’s life.

The submitted work must be factually correct. You are free to interpret the evidence and to present Churchill in a positive or negative light: you will need to make your case convincingly using precise evidence, some of which will come from at least three sources you have found in the Churchill Archive. You will need to include a thoughtful evaluation of these three or more sources, balancing what makes them valuable against any limits to their value. More information on this is provided below.

The judges are looking to reward how thoughtfully you use the primary sources on Churchill’s life, how you use some of Sir Martin Gilbert’s histories, as well as your creativity and your attention to detail.

Timing of competition 2020

The deadline for Year 11 is 30 June 2020 at 21:00 GMT
The deadline for Year 12 is 31 July 2020 at 21:00 GMT
Any submission that has an email time-stamp after this deadline will not be considered. The winning entries will be announced in early September.


The complete Churchill Archive is available free of charge to schools and sixth form colleges worldwide. Teachers can register online. Teachers will be asked to send an email with their school information and agree to terms and conditions.

You will need to use three or more sources of evidence to support any arguments you make. Historians generally use sources to make inferences about particular aspects of the past. Provided that the three sources come from the Churchill Archive, the sources you choose to include, and how you choose to include them, is completely up to you! The judges will be looking to reward the most thoughtful and scholarly use of sources.

For example, on the Churchill Archives website you can see a note from Lord Morely to Churchill about Seebohm Rowntree’s book on poverty: (http://www.churchillarchivesforschools.com/themes/the-themes/key-developments-in-british-and-empire-history/why-did-british-politicians-see-the-need-for-welfare-reforms-in-the-early-1900’s). From this, historians can infer that politicians at the time were interested in the issue of poverty and the note of is evidence of that interest. You might consider how the context in which a source is created makes it particularly valuable. Does it shed light on something that was about to happen, or had just happened?

Does it shed light on what people were thinking? You might also consider any limits to the value of a source. Is it suggesting something that you know some people at the time would have disagreed with? Or is it a piece of propaganda that historians need to evaluate carefully? See if you can use some of what you have learned about Churchill’s life to explain your evaluation of each source: the judges are also looking to reward your use of precise evidence. More information on this is provided in the power point document ‘Research and Support’ found on this website.


Entries should include a bibliography of primary and secondary sources used.

Year 12 entries should be no longer than 2000 words OR consist of a PowerPoint presentation of at least twenty images (maximum file size of 50MB).

Year 11 entries should be longer than 1000 words OR consist of a PowerPoint presentation of at least ten images (maximum file size of 50MB).

The word limit does not include any footnotes, appendices, or your bibliography.

How to submit your entry

Please submit your work as a PDF and email it to info@sirmartingilbertlearningcentre.org:

  • Your name and your academic year
  • Your school name and address
  • The name of your Head of History, and their email address

The Head of History at your school will be asked to confirm that your entry is exclusively your own work.


All student entries

All participants will receive a certificate of participation. You will have the option of requesting from the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre a free ticket to the next meeting of the annual Cambridge History Forum for students, planned for Saturday 13 March 2021. More information about the Cambridge History Forum is available here.

Top 10 entries

Will receive a winner’s certificate and a personalised book written by Sir Martin Gilbert. We hope to invite you to a prize-giving ceremony hopefully at Churchill College, Cambridge, where you will have a tour of the Churchill Archives, have a lunch in the college, and all your travel costs will be paid for. If external factors limit this we will hold a virtual prize giving.

Top 3 entries

  • Top Prize £250 for your school & £250 for you
  • First Runner-Up £125 for your school & £125 for you
  • Second Runner-Up £50 for your school & £50 for you

The Top Prize submission may be posted on the International Churchill Society website and be asked to present their essay at the International Churchill Society Annual Conference online in October. and considered for publication in Finest Hour, the International Churchill Society’s quarterly journal.


The competition will be judged by a panel of secondary school teachers and experts from: The Churchill Archives, University College London, a GCSE examiner, the Historical Association and Anglia Ruskin University.

Are teachers allowed to assist their students?
Your teachers are welcome to help you identify a good topic to research, and to help you navigate the resources. One of our participating schools has a Year 11 introductory lesson on Churchill. If you or your teacher would like a copy, please email us.

The research and writing should be completed by you independently. Your teacher can read your work and give you general advice, but you should not ask them to mark your work. This is a wonderful chance for you, and a fitting tribute to the extraordinary life of Sir Martin Gilbert, to develop your own skills as an historian, and give you a taste of what history is like at university.

Use of your information

The Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre will use personal information that you give us in accordance with the law and, only in so far as is necessary for the purposes of the competition as set out in this document, and for any marketing or other purposes you may indicate your consent to. We may also share your details with any sponsors or competition partners involved in this competition, as well as our service providers and agents, strictly for the purposes of running this competition, providing prizes on our behalf, and publicising the names and schools of the top ten entries. Your personal information will not be used, shared or sold, for any other purposes.

If you have any questions or concerns about the use of your personal information, please see our privacy policy and data policy on contact us by email.

Download the resource sheet