25 April 2022

We are not human all the way down – exploring the politics of the human with the Biotechnology & Society student essay contest

We are very pleased to take part in the following student engagement initiative to promote creative and insightful ways to examine the politics of the human from a social sciences and medical humanities perspective. We are looking forward to reading this year’s entries, the two winning essays will be published here in June so watch this space!

Biotechnology & Society Student Essay Contest 2022

The Biotechnology & Society research group (BIOS) in the department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London invites submissions for its second annual student essay contest.

The BIOS research cluster investigates the social, ethical, and legal questions arising from emerging biotechnologies. Our research is markedly interdisciplinary in approach and it interrogates and informs public policy and global health governance. The group brings together science and technology studies, medical sociology and anthropology, history of science and medicine with critical bioethics – and investigates how emerging biotechnologies and digital technologies are shaped and in turn shape the biopolitical landscape.

Essay Question


The essay question for 2022 is:


“We all contain multitudes, we are inhabited by a vast non-human population that keeps us alive. We are not human all the way down. So what?”


We welcome various creative interpretations of the essay question and will accept essays that do not directly answer the question, so long as they speak to its general themes. Submissions can take the form of an academic essay or a creative writing piece. Essays can be based on existing coursework but must be adapted to address the themes in the above essay question. You can read the winning essay from 2021 here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/sara-dahlen-wins-biotechnology-society-essay-contest


Submissions must be received by midnight on Sunday 5th June 2022.



Entry is open to all KCL students enrolled on an undergraduate or taught postgraduate programme and recent graduates (2021/2022 cohort).


Prizes will be awarded for the two best essays.

·      1st prize: £600

·      2nd prize: £300

The winner will be announced in June 2022 with an event chaired by the selection committee. An excerpt of the essay will be published in the Global Health and Social Medicine newsletter and will be published in full on the BIOS website.

Assessment Criteria

All essays will be judged on their originality and distinctive writing style by a panel of academics from King’s College London, chaired by Dr Sara Bea, Dr Silvia Camporesi and Jessica Tatchell.


Submission Checklist


·      Prepare your essay for blind review and ensure your name does not appear anywhere on the document.

·      The essay must be less than 3,000 words in length.

·      Do not use footnotes or endnotes.

·      Use Chicago or Harvard referencing style.

·      Send a separate application document with your full name, preferred email contact, enrolled programme and expected graduation date.


Send your essay submission and application document to biotechnologyandsociety@kcl.ac.uk by midnight on Sunday 5th June 2022.