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Ruby Chesney-Spedding

Imperial | Biology

The 2020 Crowd Scholar


From the Trustees

Ruby worked part-time at Waitrose, competed in coastal rowing, and was a young carer for her mum all while excelling academically in sixth form. In her interviews, Ruby shone as a mature, genuine, and thoughtful individual. We are proud to name Ruby Chesney-Spedding as the 2020 Crowd Scholar.

  Subject Area


 Area of Interest

Conservation Biology

 Prospective Uni


Career Aspirations

Research Biologist

Application Essay

What determines the morality of an action? Outcomes, intentions, or something else?

As humans, our moral values arise from human affairs. If someone dies as a result of a boulder falling on them, it has no moral interest because no one intended it. However, if that boulder fell as a result of someone pushing it rather than gravity, the intention would make it a moral issue. Without human values, such as warmth, health or security, morality would not exist. 

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory suggesting that the morality of an action is determined by the outcome. By this theory, a morally good action will be the one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number. Bentham, one of the developers of utilitarianism, had the aim to be unselfish, maximise pleasure and minimise pain. Initially, this seems like a good theory to determine the morality of your actions. In history, however, utilitarianism has been used to justify actions which I would not consider morally good. An action can only be judged by its consequence- the killing of millions in a war can be justified if the outcome is successful. Are the innocent lives not worth anything? How can you know that the outcome will be successful? No one knows the future.

Deontology, advocated by Kant, is another theory suggesting that the morality of an action is dependent on the action itself. A rule, or ‘maxim’ is applied to each action. If someone drops money on the floor the maxim may be “we should all help people with minor disasters”. If this maxim can be agreed on by all rational people, it is right - “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” The outcomes are not considered in determining morality. 

One of the most well-known ethical dilemmas is ‘The Trolley Problem’ - An unstoppable trolley is rushing down a track where there are five people, unable to move. You are next to a lever. You can do nothing, and the trolley will kill the five people, or you can pull the lever, turning the trolley down a track where there’s only one person, killing them. A utilitarian view says pull the lever - fewer people are killed and therefore it’s morally the best option. Deontologists say you should not pull the lever, as the action of choosing to sacrifice the one person is wrong. 

There are elements of both utilitarianism and deontology that I agree and disagree on. For me, moral particularism seems more appealing. This is a third ethical theory, part of applied ethics. It says that there are no moral rules, that because no two situations are the same, moral judgement should be determined by the outcomes, intentions, circumstances and all the relevant context on a case-by-case basis. I think that the morality of an action is strongly determined by the situation, and one rule saying it’s purely based on either outcomes or intentions/actions creates moral conflict and harm, personally and on a bigger scale. 

Why Crowd Scholar?

Winning a Crowd Scholar scholarship would mean completing my degree at Imperial College London to the fullest and having time to study and keeping stress limited to biology, not money. I have been a young carer for my mum for 10 years, with long term chronic illness and more recently a brain tumour. Despite it being removed in 2019, recovery is long. Because of this, and being a single parent household, money has been tight. I know what it's like to juggle college, an hour and a half commute and 12 hours a week in the local supermarket. To combat this, I have immersed myself in my studies, working hard at things I am passionate about, and it has ultimately paid off. I know I’ve not got it the worst, but I also know the potential a scholarship has in making a world of difference to the outcome of my degree, and my biology career.

Studying in London, at a university with such a good reputation in the science community, has been a goal. When I got the offer, I couldn’t have been happier. However, I quickly remembered how expensive living in London would be. Living with the financial challenges we’ve had; I know the value of money- not to be frivolous and how to spend smart and make it go a long way. Having that worry lifted by a scholarship would allow me to concentrate fully on my studies and get the career in science I so badly want.

Biology (A*)

A Level

Chemistry (A*)

A Level

Fine Art (A*)

A Level

Mathematics (A*)

A Level

Art & Design (9)


Biology (9)


Chemistry (9)


English Language (9)


English Literature (8)


French (7)


Geography (8)


Mathematics (9)


Textiles Technology (A*)


Teacher Recommendation

Amongst the more than 4000 students at Peter Symonds College Ruby stands out for her intellectual ability across the broad range of her subjects, coupled with her maturity and positive attitude. She is successfully tackling four A levels (both science and art) and is predicted to gain A* grades in all of them.

Alongside her academic success, Ruby has supported her mother as a young carer for many years. In July 2019 she faced her mother undergoing a serious brain operation (with only 30% chance of survival). Since that time Ruby has continued to provide care for her Mum (a single parent) and for her younger brother; she remained deeply committed to all aspects of college life, including supporting her peers, and she has shown remarkable cheerfulness throughout.

Ruby is an exceptional young lady and is a pleasure to teach. She is an eloquent and confident speaker, contributing insightful comments in class and clearly enjoying sharing ideas when engaged in problem solving activities.

In Biology Ruby is an exceptional and passionate student, amongst the top 10% of over 400. She consistently uses her knowledge of biological principles and concepts to produce high quality answers. In practical work she is highly competent, using a range of techniques safely and skillfully, making and recording observations with precision. Wider reading is evident and she also participates in an extension group.

In Chemistry Ruby is a gifted student; her quick understanding enables her to make ready connections between different areas of the subject. She can apply her knowledge to unfamiliar situations and her written responses to questions are always insightful and accurate. She is particularly good at explaining concepts to weaker students. In practical tasks she shows well-developed skills and her powers of numerical analysis and ability to evaluate experimental results are excellent.

Ruby is exceptionally strong in Mathematics (in the top 10% of almost 600 students), handling new ideas with ease. She has excellent skills of analysis and can confidently handle multi-stage arguments and follow logical reasoning, producing well-structured solutions to the most complex problems. Ruby will always persevere with a problem and knows when to ask for help.

Excelling in Fine Art, Ruby is highly talented and through her aesthetic understanding and personal expression, she creates powerful visual statements. Her writing shows intellectual rigour and analysis of complex ideas. Her work reflects her original thinking and the quality of a thorough independent inquiry.

Rudy is a mature, cheerful and highly impressive student with an excellent work ethic and ability across a range of subjects. This is combined with her excellent interpersonal skills. She shows admirable resilience and outstanding time management through her role as a young carer, combined with part-time employment and commitment to rowing and dancing. We highly recommend her application to you; she shows considerable academicability and a determination beyond her years.

Head of Faculty, Peter Symonds College

Other students

Buraq Ahmed

Cambridge  |  Medicine

The [Randomly Drawn Donor] Crowd Scholar

Strange name for scholarship? Not quite. Any donor that gives £20 or more towards our 2019-20 Crowd Scholars’ educations will be entered into a lottery to name Buraq’s scholarship.

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Hilary Odunayo

Warwick  |  Economics

The 2020 John Bennett Trust Crowd Scholar

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