The competition is judged in two rounds. In the first round every essay is judged anonymously by two appropriately selected members of the Executive Committee of the Society for French Studies who are unaware of the submitting university but who are made aware of relevant contextual information supplied on the coversheet.
The five best essays from that first round then undergo a second round of judging by a panel normally comprising the Society’s President and Vice President, the Co-ordinator of the R. Gapper Undergraduate Essay Prize, the Co-ordinator of the R. Gapper Postgraduate Essay Prize and the Editor of the French Studies Bulletin.
To avoid conflicts of interest, in both rounds no essay is judged by someone from the same institution as the author of the essay. In the second round, this sometimes requires that one or more substitute judges be selected from the wider Executive Committee to assess all of the five essays.
The prize is awarded for an essay of outstanding merit at undergraduate level and which is also the best essay submitted in its year. The winning essay will be exceptionally distinguished work for that level: critically or theoretically sophisticated, intellectually adventurous, original in its approach and expressed in sophisticated and elegant English or French. It will also be worthy of publication without major revision.