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International Philosophy Olympiad

Organized under the auspices of FISP and UNESCO


Regulations concerning the purpose and organization of the International Philosophy Olympiad. More information available at

The International Philosophy Olympiads (IPO), which is a competition for high-school pupils, first took place in 1993, by an initiative of the Department of Philosophy of Sofıa University to invite a group of philosophers from various countries. The founding members were: Ivan Kolev (Bulgaria), Gerd Gerhardt (Germany), Katalin Havas (Hungary), Wladislaw Krajewski (Poland), Florina Otet (Romania), Nuran Direk (Turkey). These Olympiads have also been welcomed by UNESCO (see “Conclusions of the International Study Days: Philosophy and Democracy in the World”, 15-16 February 1995).

Since 2001 the International Philosophy Olympiads have been organized under the auspices of FISP and with the recognition and support of UNESCO.

These Regulations were prepared in accordance with the wish of the International Committee of IPO to cooperate with FISP in the organization of the Olympiads, expressed in its letter of May 9, 1999, and in accordance with FISP Statutes (art. 2/f). They were approved, in their original version, by the IPO Organizing Committee in its meeting held in Münster on May 5, 2000, and subsequently by the Steering Committee of FISP in its meeting held in Istanbul, on September 16, 2000.

1. Objectives
The objectives of the IPO are:

  • to promote philosophical education at the secondary school level and increase the interest of high school pupils in philosophy;

  • to encourage the development of national, regional, and local contests in philosophy among pre-university students worldwide;

  • to contribute to the development of critical, inquisitive and creative thinking;

  • to promote philosophical reflection on science, art, and social life;

  • to cultivate the capacity for ethical reflection on the problems of the modern world; and,

  • by encouraging intellectual exchanges and securing opportunities for personal contacts between young people from different countries, to promote the culture of peace.

2. Organization
The IPO is organized every year in May, by one of the participating countries. Participation in IPO will require a commitment on the part of the national delegations to promote the study of Philosophy in their home country and to organize a national competition in Philosophy.

The IPO is open to pupils from every country in the world who are enrolled in high school, either at the time of the competition, or, in countries where the school year ends in December in the year before, or earlier than May the same year, even if they are enrolled at a university at the time of the IPO.

The maximum age of a pupil is 20.

The National Organizing Committee of the host country may decide to adopt a leading theme of the Olympiad. Such a theme, however, will be used only for the series of lectures and workshops offered to the participants and should not be reflected in the selection of contest topics. The contest topics should reflect a variety of philosophical disciplines.

Each country can participate with one or two pupils, with the exception of the host country, which may participate with a maximum of 10 pupils.

The selection of the pupils who will participate in an International Philosophy Olympiad is made after competitions organized at the national level; but in exceptional cases other methods may be followed subject to the approval of the Steering Board. These national competitions should be organized by, or under the auspices of, a national philosophical society which is a member of FISP. If a national society does not exist or if, though it exists, it is not willing to organize the national Olympiads, or if another method has been pursued in the past, other procedures may be followed, but in all cases these procedures are subject to the approval of the Steering Board of the International Philosophy Olympiads.

3. Administration of the IPO
The administration of the IPO is carried out by the following bodies:

    a) The International Committee consists of the delegation leaders of all those countries that have already organized an IPO.

The International Committee of the IPO will meet every year on the occasion of the Olympiads, and will discuss measures to be taken for the future development of IPO. It is chaired by the President of the current National Organizing Committee. Each year it chooses three delegation members from countries that have hosted an IPO (IC member countries) to represent it on the Steering Board and makes a decision concerning the country in which the next Olympiads will take place. The International Committee has the right to exclude from the IPO persons who, or delegations which, have violated IPO regulations.

The International Committee is also authorized to elect two or three of its members to consider proposals for changes in these statutes and to prepare a report on these proposals in collaboration with the FISP members of the Steering Board.  Proposals agreed to by a 2/3 majority of the International Committee will then be reported to the FISP Steering Committee.

    b) The Steering Board of the IPO consists of:

  • a representative of UNESCO,  if attendant;

  • the President of FISP (or his/her representative), and two other members of the FISP Steering Committee and/or representatives chosen by it;

  • three members of the International Committee, elected each year by it.

It is chaired by the President of FISP (or his/her representative).

This Board collaborates with the IPO National Organizing Committee for the successful preparation and realization of the competition. In particular it helps with the diffusion of information through the FISP Newsletter and in other ways, helps the National Organizing Committee to find international financial support for the IPO, decides on the distribution of prizes, and in case of any dispute takes the final decision.

    c) The National Organizing Committee.
The host country will establish a National Organizing Committee. The National Organizing Committee is constituted each year from June 1 to May 31 and is responsible for organizing the annual IPO. It is expected to coordinate its planning with the International Committee and to keep it informed of its decisions. After the IPO is held, the National Organizing Committee will send a full report of the competition and its outcome to the International Committee, to the Steering Board, to the FISP Steering Committee, and to the other participants.

    d) The International Jury consists of all the delegation leaders and teachers (max. two per country, except three, including the delegation leader, from the previous host country). All members of the International Jury are required to have a degree that allows them to teach philosophy at high schools/secondary schools or universities in their own country.


4. The Competition
     a) Before March 1 of the year of the competition, each delegation leader is expected to send one proposal of a topic to the Secretary General of FISP. This proposal (a short quotation – not longer than five lines – or a question) must be submitted in at least one of the IPO languages and it must include the correct source. These proposals will be circulated among the FISP members of the Steering Board, who will select four topics from among those sent and/or other topics of their choice. The topics selected will be printed in all four IPO languages.

They will be provided with the sources according to academic rules. Quotations will be provided in the best available translation, and with bibliographic data according to academic standards. If no good translation(s) is (are) available, the Secretary General of FISP will provide (a) new translation(s), mentioning the translator(s) by name.

    b) Writing the Essays

  I. Every student writes an essay on one of the four topics given to them.

  II. The essay must be written in one of the following languages: English, German, French, Spanish; however, it must not be written in the official language(s) of the student’s state (e.g., a German does not write in German).

The only aid that may be used during the students´ essay-writing are bi-lingual dictionaries in the pupils´ own language and one of the official IPO languages (English/German/French/Spanish), and mono-lingual dictionaries in one of the official IPO languages. Such dictionaries must be in paper versions, not in any electronic format.

  III. The time of writing is 4 hours.

  IV. The names of the authors of all essays are encoded and not known to the assessors until the final ranking is fixed.

    c) Grading the essays
I. The criteria of evaluation are: relevance to the topic, philosophical understanding of the topic, persuasive power of argumentation, coherence, and originality.

II. Each assessor gives marks on a scale of 1 to 10 points, from 7 points upwards using intervals of .5.

  • 7.5-10 points means: I suggest this essay for the next stage.

  • 6-7 points means: I myself don’t suggest this essay, but I will agree if somebody else selects this essay.

  • 1-5 points means: I suggest that this essay should not be accepted for the next stage.

III. At the first stage of the grading each essay is marked by four assessors. If there are more than 3 points of difference among the individual marks, a fifth assessor will be appointed. At the end of the first stage all the essays which have received an average grade of at least 7 points are selected for the second stage.

IV. At the second stage each remaining essay is marked by two additional assessors.

The average mark of an essay is calculated on the basis of all the marks it has received – both the marks of the assessors at the first stage and the marks of the two assessors at the second stage. At the end of the second stage the Jury of the IPO selects as many of the best essays as it wishes for consideration in the third stage.

V. At the third stage the Steering Board will decide on the distribution or prizes.

5. Awards
Awards are symbolic “medals”: golden, silver, and bronze, and honorable mention. The Steering Committee may grant more than one medal in each category.

Other Points

English is the working language of the International Philosophy Olympiad. All participants need to be able to communicate in English.

All forms of cheating, all kinds of harassment, the use of drugs and abuse of alcohol, and all other violations of the spirit of the IPO, either on the side of teachers or students, may be punished with disqualification or exclusion from the IPO by the Steering Board, upon consultation of the IC.

The date of the International Philosophy Olympiad is announced and communicated every year by the President of the National Organizing Committee to all participating countries before October 1. He or she also sends a letter of invitation to those who express their intention before December 1 to participate in the next Olympiad.

The host country undertakes to provide, at a minimum, the accommodation (including meals) expenses of two pupils and one teacher (delegation member) from each country, as well as members of the Steering Board and the International Committee who are not otherwise covered.

The National Organizing Committee decides about the value of the prizes to be offered to the winners of the competition.

The public and guests are invited to the opening and closing ceremonies; admission of guests to other activities of the IPO must be approved by the International Committee.

The secretariat of the International Committee of IPO is located in the Department of Philosophy of Sofia University, Bulgaria. It is charged with the task of preparing and maintaining the archival records as follows:

  • The list of topics used at the Olympiads,

  • The essays written by the participants,

  • The minutes of the Olympiads,

  • Internet resources for the Olympiads (

  • All other relevant material.

  • It prepares the Bulletin of IPO.

These revised rules were adopted, in accordance with existing statutes, by consensus of a combined meeting of the Steering Board and the Organizing Committee in Istanbul, September 4-5, 2006.

The rules were revised through a minimum 2/3 majority of the International Committee through votes by e-mail December 6, 2017 - February 28, 2018. The proposal of the revisions was formulated by a committee of three persons elected at the IC meeting at IPO Rotterdam, May 25, 2017.

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