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POLIS Undergraduate Prize Winners Speak

last modified Sep 24, 2020 12:40 PM

The Department of POLIS is delighted to announce that our undergraduates have completed their end of year assessments and prizes have been awarded.

The John Dunn Prize is awarded each year to the Part IIB student who submits the best dissertation. This year Yi Ning Chang and her dissertation "Modernity as Multiracialism: Political Thought during the Making of the Malaysian and Singaporean States, 1955–1965" and Kateřina Cohnová for her dissertation "Liberty, Dignity, and Democracy in Roman and Neo-Roman Republicanism" was selected as the most worthy winners. Here are their comments about their work:

Yi Ning Chang: "My dissertation explores political thinking on race and modernity at the moments when the Malayan, Malaysian and Singaporean states came into being. I wrote with the aim of putting the history of political thought in conversation with Southeast Asia – the two don't often meet – and engaging with recent work in postcolonial theory. Writing this piece was the highlight of my undergraduate studies: under Dr Iza Hussin's guidance, I learned a good deal about doing archival research, grappling with theory, and becoming a sharper, more effective writer."

Kateřina: "In my dissertation, I pursued my interest in the variety of conceptualisations of republican liberty, arguing that while in the late Roman republic democracy was not a necessary prerequisite for ensuring citizens' freedom from arbitrary interference, the exercise of political agency by all citizens does indeed become indispensable for their republican freedom following a conceptual shift in the understanding of dignity in the transition from ancient to modern politics. Gradually working through the argument was an immensely rewarding experience, and I am very grateful to Dr Brooke for consistently pushing me to embrace the uncertainties of research and to consider new and more complex dimensions of the topic."

The Schmidt Prize is awarded each year to the Part IIA student who submits the best long essay and this year the Examiners judged the essay ‘Is more differentiation the answer to the problems facing contemporary European Union?’ written by Eric Kettmann to be the best POL5 essay in the crop.

Eric Kettmann writes: "In my essay I argued that differentiated integration is and has always been a useful tool to further and enable European integration. Especially in the areas of defense, migration policy and external relations, deepening, improving and extending the existing system of variable geometry inside the EU is highly desirable both for the Union and the member states. Analysing and evaluating the various proposals for increased differentiation was a thoroughly enjoyable exercise, which was greatly helped by the very open structure of POL5. Having an entire term to take a deeper look at a topic was a very nice experience, as this allowed me to not only spend significantly more time and thought on researching the topic, but also to refine and continuously improve the argument I was making. I can thus only recommend POL5, it is a highly rewarding paper that enables you to venture beyond the sometimes narrow confines of weekly essays."


Congratulations to Yi Ning, Kateřina and Eric, and to all undergraduate students on their hard work this year.