HPGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize

HPGRG annually award an Undergraduate Dissertation Prize of £50 for outstanding work in the history and/or philosophy of human geography, physical geography or associated fields. We welcome nominations that examine geographical knowledge, discourses and practices across academic, public and/or private spheres. Nominations are requested from Dissertation Supervisors or Heads of Department and are welcomed from the UK and from other countries. The dissertation should have been completed within the past two years (2007-09) and be written in English. Depending on the number and quality of submissions, the prize may not be awarded every year.

The Undergraduate Dissertation Prize committee is:

  • Dr Pauline Couper (University College Plymouth St Mark & St John, UK)
  • Dr Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium)
  • Dr Avril Maddrell (University of the West of England, UK)

Submission of an (unmarked) copy of the dissertation, together with a letter of recommendation, should be made to Dr Heike Jöns (Loughborough University). Deadline: 10 July 2009.

2008 Dissertation Prize

First Prize

Tom Croll-Knight, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield

Tom Croll-Knight's dissertation, written for a BA in Geography and entitled "Every word that's understood is a transaction: spacing citation and sampling in US rap music", is a highly innovative piece of work that attempts to extend the boundaries of what constitutes geographical research in the context of the spatiality of music. Focusing on the practices of citation and sampling, the dissertation presents one of the first academic studies on the spatial dimension of intertextuality in US rap music, thus elaborating in important ways on the interest of musicological scholars in temporal aspects of musical interconnections. By outlining and applying an experimental research design that includes the composition of a piece of music, the author makes a strong argument for enriching the history and philosophy of geography through the use of more creative methodologies. According to the referees, the text demonstrates a sensitive and critical engagement with the literature, while the suggested methodology and resulting arguments about the material and metaphorical spatialities of rap songs with scholars in the arts and humanities promises an exciting debate across disciplines.

Commendation Awards

Thomas Lowish, Department of Geography, King's College London, University of London

Thomas Lowish's dissertation, entitled "The 1882 British Married Women's Property Act and the Property Holdings of Women in Victorian Society", presents a thorough analysis and understanding of the impact the 1882 British Married Women's Property Act had on the ownership in London's St. Pancras District between 1878 and 1900. Based on an innovative study of a sample of ratebook and census data, he demonstrates that the total numbers of properties owned by females and of married women proprietors raised considerably during this period, thus beginning to slowly challenge the male hegemony over property holding. This changing role of female economic autonomy and agency in Victorian Society was closely linked to class and wealth as most changes occurred among women of the wealthier classes. According to the referees, the study offers a very successful combination of literature review, methodology and data analysis, thus contributing significantly to research on gender discourses in human geography. They suggest that further studies could elaborate on the geographical dimensions of female property holding through a systematic study of differences at the street level.

James Riley, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

James Riley's dissertation, entitled "Students' perceptions of the relevance of the secondary school geography curriculum", is a timely and accomplished study on students' perception of different topics and skills learned through the geography curriculum. Based on the analysis of 550 questionnaires conducted at four different schools, the findings suggest that the students regard environmental geography topics (weather and climate, ecosystems, climate change), issues dealing with population and industry, and fieldtrips as the most enjoyable and relevant topics to their future lives. Contrary to arguments provided by the recent Ofsted report (2008), the author points out that the majority of students cherish large parts of the geography curriculum and regard these as important investments into their knowledge and skills portfolio. According to the referees, the study applies a thorough interdisciplinary approach that produces exciting findings with an immediate practical impact both on teaching geography and on how students perceive this discipline.