Examples of prize-winning theses and dissertations

From our own experience, we know how difficult it is to begin writing a thesis, especially if you don’t know where to start. Looking at other theses can give you initial ideas for how to get started and help you work out the best structure for your own research.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

Each university has its own rules

As you read the examples below, bear in mind that all universities have their own guidelines for writing theses and dissertations. The requirements for length, format and structure often vary by faculty and department, and different disciplines have different research conventions. We highly recommend that you review your own university’s and programme’s policies, and discuss any doubts with your supervisor.

Award-winning undergraduate theses

University: Columbia University
Faculty: History
Author: Julien Saint Reiman
Award: 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize
Title: “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London
Faculty: Geography
Author: Anna Knowles-Smith
Award: 2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize
Title: Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington
Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering
Author: Nick J. Martindell
Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award
Title: DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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Award-winning master’s theses

University: University of Edinburgh
Faculty: Informatics
Author: Christopher Sipola
Award: 2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize
Title: Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University: University of Ottawa
Faculty: Education
Author: Matthew Brillinger
Award: 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize
Title: Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University: University of Ottawa
Faculty: Social Sciences
Author: Heather Martin
Award: 2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize
Title: An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University: University of Ottawa
Faculty: Physics
Author: Guillaume Thekkadath
Award: 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize
Title: Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University: London School of Economics
Faculty: International Development
Author: Lajos Kossuth
Award: 2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance
Title: Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

Award-winning Ph.D. dissertations

University: Utrecht University
Faculty: Linguistics
Author: Hans Rutger Bosker
Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize
Title: The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology
Faculty: Physics
Author: Michael P. Mendenhall
Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics
Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University: University of Oxford – St Hilda’s College
Faculty: Biomedical Engineering
Author: Mattias P. Heinrich
Award: 2014 Sullivan Thesis Prize
Title: Deformable lung registration for pulmonary image analysis of MRI and CT scans

University: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Faculty: Computer Science
Author: John Criswell
Award: 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Award
Title: Secure Virtual Architecture: Security for Commodity Software Systems

University: Stanford University
Faculty: Management Science and Engineering
Author: Shayan O. Gharan
Award: Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013
Title: New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota
Faculty: Chemical Engineering
Author: Eric A. Vandre
Award: 2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics
Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Faculty: Marketing
Author: Ezgi Akpinar
Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014
Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington
Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering
Author: Keith N. Snavely
Award: 2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award
Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University: University of Ottawa
Faculty: Social Work
Author: Susannah Taylor
Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize
Title: Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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Luca Corrieri

Luca is the 'data junkie' of Scribbr. He writes articles that help you with finding information easier and by providing you with all the answers to your questions. He is a student himself and currently doing his master Strategic Management.

3 comments

Rafaqat Bano
April 22, 2019 at 5:45 PM

I want to select any social topic for my Phd thesis. how can I choose it.

Reply

Walter
November 11, 2018 at 11:30 PM

I want to write my dissertation about corpus based interpreting ,but I don't know how to start.

Reply

Sophie
Sophie (Scribbr-team)
November 13, 2018 at 2:20 PM

Hi Walter!
That sounds interesting! I would suggest to read the followwing article: https://www.scribbr.com/category/dissertation-writing-roadmap/.
This will probably give you some guidance on how to start writing your thesis.
Good luck!

Reply

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