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Prepared essay example titles

Students are required to write a prepared essay of not more than 3000 words in length selected from titles proposed by the examiners. The topics offered for the prepared essay will concern ‘Science that affects Society’ and the Examiners will announce titles to students in the Michaelmas Term.   Examples of previous essay titles are included below.


  1. Neonicotinoids are used as insecticidal dressing for crop seeds.  What are the associated risks, and should we be using such chemicals?
  2. Is it feasible and desirable to enforce regulations to control applications of genome editing?
  3. Should there be a 'sugar tax' and if so, which sugars should be taxed and why?


  1.  Does the biology of the Ebola virus suggest ways of treating the disease?  How could another outbreak be prevented?
  2. Will it be impossible to feed the world population without extensive use of genetically modified crop plants?
  3. Is there a link between the gut microbiome and obesity, diabetes, and bowel cancer?  Is there a future for faecal transplantation in the therapy of bowel disorders?


  1. How does knowledge of genotype complement accurate phenotyping in the treatment of disease?  Is it a good use of taxpayers’ money to pay for patient genome sequencing?
  2. Was the £500 million spent by the UK during the 2009 flu epidemic on antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, money well spent?
  3. Bovine TB is a problem in the UK.  Why is this and what strategies are being used to combat the spread of this disease?  Comment on the current strategies.