Essay Route

The Essay route is suitable for applicants who have a recognised professional qualification or vocational degree, plus five years' industry experience.

Applicants submit three essays of approximately 5000 words, which provide emphasis on one’s own research and expertise.

Applicants are eligible to upgrade to Associate membership after completion of one essay. Upon completion of a further two essays, applicants are eligible to upgrade to STEP Full membership and use the TEP designation.

How do I apply?

You can complete an Affiliate application online by clicking on the Apply now button below.

Application guidelines

Applicants will need to upload the following as part of their application:

  1. A detailed CV/resumé or written summary which includes a comprehensive outline of your past and current areas of practice and responsibilities within it.
  2. Proof of any relevant qualifications.
  3. A statement from an independent referee. The referee should have known you in a professional capacity during the relevant period and be able to confirm your competence as detailed in your application. Ideally, they will not be from your current firm, company or organisation. If your referee is a TEP in good standing, they can be from your current firm, company or organisation.

Please note that applications not completed in full and/or supported by evidence of standing in the profession will not be processed.

Background check – STEP undertakes background checks using the Refinitiv World-Check One service to assist with determining an applicant’s suitability for membership. View further information

What is the process once I have been accepted for the Essay route?
  • Make sure you are familiar with the Rules and Regulations (PDF 88KB).
  • Select your topic from the published list, complete the Paper Registration Form and return this to STEP with appropriate payment.
  • Write your paper(s), using the Student Guidance (PDF 131KB) and other resources as aids.
  • Submit to the STEP Office by the relevant deadline.
  • Each submission will need to include a Cover Sheet (PDF 66KB) and a reflective log attached to your papers. Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted.
  • Upon passing one paper, you will be eligible to upgrade to Associate membership.
  • Once you have passed all three papers you should then upgrade to Full membership.
What are the topics?

A full list of this year’s topics is available on the Essay Topics page


There are two submission deadlines per year, and applications are accepted throughout the year. Results for October 2023 submissions will be released on 22 January 2024.

July Submission


October Submission


Topics Available

5 February

Topics Available

5 February

Registration Deadline

26 April

Registration Deadline

26 July

Submission Deadline

5 July

Submission Deadline

4 October


21 October


January 2025

How much will it cost?

Upon approval, applicants will be required to pay an Essay Route application fee and the annual Affiliate membership subscription fee.

A Registration Fee is payable when you submit a Paper Registration Form.

View details of our Fees

Reflective logs

Members on the Essay Route should keep a reflective log, or research diary, while researching and writing essays, and these should be included when essays are submitted.

Members can choose the format that they are most comfortable with, but reflective logs should be anonymous and should only have a membership number on them. They should be typed and between 400 and 600 words only.

The inclusion of a reflective log represents good practice in professional development, particularly for Masters level qualifications, and is used to encourage students to critically evaluate their own research practice.

What should I write in a reflective log?

Reflective logs can be both an easy way of keeping track of the sources that you found and an opportunity for you to think about the theory you are discussing in your essay, how you apply that knowledge in practice and whether you could or would change anything in future.

As an experienced practitioner, you will have accrued years of knowledge through working with a variety of clients to find solutions, but it is rare for practitioners to take the time to reflect on what they have learned or to regularly reassess the full set of solutions available. The writing process encourages some creative thinking and allows you to assess your work from a different perspective.

Some suggested questions for you to consider are:

  • What was my reasoning for choosing this essay question?
  • How have I planned my response to the essay question?
  • Have I had to reassess or change my essay plan in the light of information that I uncovered in my research? Has this also changed how I might approach my work with clients?
  • What would I do differently if I was to start the process of writing this essay afresh?
  • What have I learnt while researching for this essay?
  • How has my thinking changed?
If you are joining in Canada please visit our Canadian site for further information.

Important documents

Useful Resources

For any questions, please email [email protected] or call +44(0)20 3752 3700