Research activities

BLT19 Trading Places Competition 2021



What is ‘work’? And where do our ideas about work come from?

At the University of Greenwich we are fascinated by the origins of how we think about work, because by understanding our history we can imagine and perhaps work towards new ways of working.

Many of our ideas about work originate with the Victorians. While there is a great deal of academic research on what ‘work’ is, there has been almost none on how our ideas about it were formulated and disseminated through the beginnings of the mass media – the Victorian periodical press.

Today we watch stories based in the workplace, and those of us with jobs have manuals and guides to tell us how to do them. The Victorians had magazines to help them with their work – the Building World for builders, the Law Times for lawyers, the Meat Trades Journal for butchers, the Baker and Confectioner, and thousands more. We have set up the website to feature some of these Victorian magazines focused on work. They all in different ways ran stories that illustrated how we should behave at work whether we do it at home, in a factory, school, workshop or office.

We’ve found that students have powerful reactions to these magazines, as shown by the fantastic stories we received for our short-story competition last year. The winners’ stories can be found here: 2020 competition winners’ stories.

This year we’ve got two ways for you to enter! Either write a short story OR design a poster/collage in response to the magazines and materials on website.

Short Story Competition

Write a short story that is connected to the materials on BLT19, showing us what you think “work” is or was – what's involved in it? Is it always horrible? Does it always mean following the clock and delivering frantically to a deadline? Does it always involve managing your and other people’s emotions - making them feel good about themselves for example?  Your story doesn’t need to be set in Victorian times, but it does need to be clearly inspired by the materials on BLT19 and you will need tell us what on the site inspired your story and how.

Poster/Collage Competition

Design a poster or collage using images from the website that illustrates a point you want to make and in an accompanying piece you need to write what the website inspired you to think of. Not all of your image needs to use images (or parts of images) from the BLT19 website (you could combine a photograph you have taken with images from the site for example), but the main focus of the collage should be taken from the BLT19 images.  Posters/collages can be designed digitally using Microsoft PowerPoint or on paper (A4/A3) and scan or take a photo and save as a JPEG file.


We’ve got competitions for two kinds of creative work – the short story and the collage (or poster). We also have two age categories for each of the competitions: one for ages 12-15 and one for ages 16-18. Each category in each of the two competitions has three prizes:

  • 1st - £100 in vouchers
  • 2nd - £75 in vouchers
  • 3rd - £50 in vouchers

That means we have 12 prizes in total – 3 in each of the 4 competition categories.

The 4 competition categories are:

  1. Ages 12-15 short story
  2. Ages 12-15 collage/poster
  3. Ages 16-18 short story
  4. Ages 16-18 collage/poster

Short-story winners will be invited to work with an academic to perfect their stories. Winning stories and collages will be published on

How to Enter

Visit the website to read about and get ideas about attitudes to work and what stories we can tell about it. There is also a YouTube video that explains what you have to do and how to do it. You can find it here:

If you are aged 12-15, EITHER write a short story (1500 words maximum) OR submit a poster or collage drawn from materials on the site.  For either, you need to add a short account (300 words maximum) explaining what on inspired you [please note that because you are under 16 years old you will need to ask your parent or guardian to submit the entry on your behalf].

If you are aged 16-18, EITHER write a short story (2000 words maximum) OR submit a poster or collage drawn from materials on the site. For either, you need to add a short account (350 words maximum) saying what on inspired you.

To submit your story (and the account of what inspired it) or your account of your poster/collage, (with your name, age, and the name of your school)  go to this link  To submit the collage/ poster itself, you will need to email a JPEG image of the collage or poster to  Make sure you include your name, school and – to be safe – another copy of your account.

The deadline for submission is 12pm noon (BST) on 23 July 2021.

Winners will be informed September 2021.

The winning stories will be published on the website after any necessary editing.

Please read the Terms and Conditions before submitting your story or collage

Good Luck!