Studentships and Essay Prizes
We award a number of prizes and studentships at undergraduate, Master's and Doctoral levels throughout the year. These include prizes for academic performance as well as special essay prizes, such as The Merriman Essay Prize and the Lancaster Prize in Digital Humanities.
The Merriman Essay Prize
The Merriman Essay Prize (named in honour of Dr Marcus Merriman) is awarded for an outstanding undergraduate essay (2,500–3,000 words) on any topic in the fields of international and/or military history from the ancient world to the present day.
Offered by the Department of History in partnership with the Centre for War and Diplomacy at Lancaster University, the prize is open to current undergraduates at any UK or overseas university. The successful candidate is awarded a prize of £250.
Erlend Heier, King’s College London, for his essay ‘Japan’s Rise as a Regional Power: Implications for East Asian Balance of Power in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries’.
The judging panel for the prize included Professor Marco Wyss (Director of the Centre for War and Diplomacy) and Professor Michael Hughes, who commended that Erlend’s essay was ‘very ambitious in scope, examining how the rise of Japan impacted on the balance of power in East Asia (and indeed beyond). It made good use of a range of secondary literature as well as a useful selection of primary sources. The discussion of the wider impact of Japan’s ‘rise’ combines intelligent analysis with a review of the key historical developments in ways that are both effective and convincing. The essay was successful in showing how shifts in power in one part of the world had broader implications for the working of the global international system more broadly. It is written in an engaging fashion that pulls together a wide range of material into a coherent and readable piece of work.’
In response, Erlend said, ‘It is a great honour to receive the 2023 Merriman Prize. I wrote this piece while undergoing my year abroad in Japan, so this really ignited my interest within the field. Personally, I feel the role of Japan in shaping the international order has largely been neglected and only briefly touched upon throughout my years of studies in Europe. Therefore, I was curious to analyse the Empire's rise to power and especially the motivations behind it. Using a variety of sources, including those from Japanese scholars, I believe I obtained unique insights and perspectives. Additionally, it became clear to me that this Japanese path to power has deeply affected its contemporary policies, and I am excited to follow the development in the years and decades to come. Again, I am very grateful for the panel's decision, and I want to thank the jury for this opportunity!’
Elizabeth Scheer, University of Southampton, for her essay ‘Reunified Berlin’s Treatment of Nazi and Soviet Monuments: A Preservation of Problematic History?’.
The judging panel offered Elizabeth’s submission a special commendation noting that the essay offered ‘a valuable examination of the way in which modern Germany has sought to manage memorials dating from the Nazi and Soviet periods’
For details of previous winners, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Undergraduate Essay Prizes
Lewis Hughes Prize
The Lewis Hughes Prize was created in memory of Lewis Hughes, a former student in the Department of History, who sadly died in 2021; it has the full support of Lewis's parents. The prize is awarded for the best performance in a Special Subject - Ancient and Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern.
Adam Stanney (Ancient and Medieval), Robin Griffith (Early Modern), Laura Smith (Modern).
Andrew Pearson Prize
The Andrew Pearson Prize was set up in memory of Andrew Pearson, a student of History (1985-88) who was tragically killed in an accident when on holiday in New Zealand. The award is for the single major History student who, in the opinion of the Part II board of examiners, has written the best HIST300 dissertation.
Eleanor Dawson, Phoebe Kendrew, and Lydia Thompson.
Queen Elizabeth Scholarships
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarships are available in the Department of History. Awards are made by the Senate on the recommendations of the Head of Department to the undergraduate who has done best in Part I and intends reading History as a major or combined major course (scholarship first awarded in 1966) and to the undergraduate reading history as a major or combined major course who has done best in second-year studies.
Rowan Higgins (Part I) and Asher Kreit (Part II).
A H Woolrych Prize
The prize, instituted as a result of the commemorative appeal made on the retirement of the late Professor A H Woolrych, the founding professor of the Department of History, is an annual book prize awarded to the undergraduate who during the academic year presents the best essay in a Part II History course. The prize was first awarded in 1987.
Lancaster Prize in Digital Humanities
The Lancaster Prize in Digital Humanities is awarded for an outstanding undergraduate essay on any topic in a humanities discipline—such as history, archaeology, literature, theology, religious studies, anthropology and philosophy—that uses or critiques digital technology.
Offered by Lancaster University's Centre for Digital Humanities, the prize is open to current undergraduates at any UK or overseas university. The successful candidate will be awarded a prize of £250.
Jay McGowan-Gardener, University of Nottingham, for their essay ‘Colonial Interactions Between the British Museum and Papua New Guinea: Spatial Analysis of Artefact Acquisition, Distribution, and Chronology in the 19th and 20th Centuries’.
The judging panel for the prize included Dr Zoe Alker and Professor Ian Gregory, who commended Jay’s submission as ‘an excellent essay that explores colonial aspects of the acquisition of museum artefacts from Papua New Guinea. It makes effective use of a range of digital techniques including databases and digital mapping’, and ‘shows the ways that digital approaches can enhance and develop more traditional historical scholarship.’
In response, Jay said, ‘I am delighted to have been awarded the Lancaster Prize in Digital Humanities. I had never had the opportunity to use GIS as a research tool before, nor had I had the chance to study Papua New Guinea in any detail. This project was a great way for me to learn a new skill, while studying something I have a true passion for, as I believe that the relationship between museums and our understanding of colonial history will change dramatically in the future. I would like to thank the judging panel and Anna Bloxam at the University of Nottingham’s Department of Classics and Archaeology for her advice and support during the writing of this paper.’
For details of previous winners, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Previous scholarship and essay prize winners
Previous scholarship and essay prize winners are detailed below:
2021 Undergraduate Prize Winners
Lewis Hughes Prize - Philippa Lazarus (Ancient and Medieval), Emily Brooks (Early Modern), and Joseph Lee (Modern)
Andrew Pearson Prize - Eleanor Charlotte Hughes and Holly Rebecca Jones.
Queen's Scholarships - Matthew Staton (Part I), Laura Kate Nutter (Part II) and Thomas Roberts (Part II).
A H Woolrych Prize - Natasha Jane Robinson.
2020 Undergraduate Prize Winners
Andrew Pearson Prize - James Lockwood and Georgia Megan Britton.
Queen's Scholarships - Anna Drury, Phoebe Mia Kendrew and Holly Parsons (Part I). Jennifer Kehlenbeck, Gergana Tsvetanova, Molly Lawson and Grace Olivia Sewell (Part II).
A H Woolrych Prize - James Andrew Clarke, Ignas Gulbinas, Georgia Megan Britton, Conor Walker and Georgia Whelan.
2019 Undergraduate Prize Winners
Andrew Pearson Prize - Dabeoc Stanley, Caroline Winstanley and Caitlin Cheshire.
Queen's Scholarships - David Comerford, Louise Varley, Eve Hood, Jude Rowley, Sofia Skiming, Bridget Morgan and Kiera Collins.
A H Woolrych Prize - Dabeoc Stanley.
Merriman Essay Prize 2021-22
Winner - Adam Stanney, Lancaster University,for his essay ‘Why did Muslim political power in the Western Mediterranean fragment in the first half of the 1000s?. His essay adopted an international approach to assessing the political decline of the medieval powers of Kalbid Sicily and Umayyad Spain.
The judging panel – Professor Michael Hughes, Professor Marco Wyss and Dr Sarah White – praised the essay's engagement with a wide range of secondary sources and its' skilful use of translated Arabic primary sources to provide an alternative perspective. They felt that the essay constituted a clear contribution to the scholarship and provided a fresh perspective on Muslim power in the Western Mediterranean in the first half of the 1000s.
Adam Stanney responded: "I am very happy to have received this year’s Merriman Prize. Writing the essay was a great experience and the medieval Islamic topic was far from anything I’d properly studied before. Drawing research away from what was familiar certainly proved a fulfilling exercise, developing my understanding of the medieval world on a more global scale. Moreover, the geographically and thematically comparative element to the piece kept things fresh when reading and tested my overall argument more so than a regular essay question. I would like to sincerely thank the panel for the award, and the Department of History at Lancaster University for providing an enriching academic environment."
The 2021-22 runner up was Daniel McCue, University of Glasgow, with his essay 'To what extent did the psychology of the Athenian hoplite in Classical Greece
while in a state of violence conform to the psychology of the modern infantryman?'.
Merriman Essay Prize 2019-20
Winner - Cadet Daniel Berardino, United States Military Academy (West Point), for his essay ‘Revolution or Evolution? A Quantitative Analysis of the Impact of Artillery on Sieges in the Hundred Years War’.
Honorary Mention - Sterling Mancuso, University of Toronto, for his essay ‘Expulsion Compulsion: Reconsidering the Motivations and Consequences of the 1923 Turco-Greek Population Exchange’.
Merriman Essay Prize 2018-19
Winner - James McHale, Huddersfield University, for his essay ‘“Saladin’s delaying tactics gave the Crusaders little choice” – Jonathan Phillips. Is this a valid conclusion to draw about the massacre of the Muslim prisoners at Acre?’.
Lancaster Prize in Digital Humanities 2018-19
Winner - Naja Algreen Suhr from the University of Copenhagen for an essay on “The elderly of Copenhagen in 1885.”
Highly Commended - Two other applicants, Kanish Garg (Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee) and Lena Zlock (Stanford University) were noted as highly commended.