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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


The Department offers a prize of £200 for the best PhD completed in the previous academic year by a Politics and International Studies student. The Prize is named in memory of Lisa Smirl, who gained her PhD in the Department in 2010 but who sadly died of cancer in February 2013. At the end of the academic year, supervisors nominate students who they believe are worthy of the prize. The nominated reports are reviewed by the PhD director and the final decision ratified by the Graduate Education Committee.

Following the completion of her PhD in POLIS, Dr Smirl joined the University of Sussex as a Lecturer in International Security from 2009-12.


Winners of the Prize

2018-2019 - Sean Fleming

'Leviathan on a Leash: A Political Theory of State Responsibility'

"one of the very best that I've read in the last 15 years at any university...a brilliant combination of history of political thought, political theory, and international law...this thesis will come to be seen as a major piece of work."

2017-2018 - José Ciro Martinez

‘The Politics of Bread: State Power, Food Subsidies and Neoliberalization in Hashemite Jordan’

 'a highly innovative study of welfare politics in Jordan, presenting the Jordanian state as engaged in a process of demonstrating its authority through the distribution of flour, the regulation of bread prices and the indirect management of the bakery'. 

2016-2017 - Eliza Garnsey

'The Art of Justice and the Justice of Art in 'post-apartheid' South Africa'

"Methodologically, the dissertation is rigorous. The researcher's ethical sensitivity and her reflection on positionality are refreshing and well-articulated."

2015-16 - Alasia Nuti

"Historical structural injustice: on the normative significance of the unjust past"

"This is an excellent thesis that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is ambitious in its objectives... it is a beautifully presented piece of work and written with an impressive command of language."

2014-15 - Thomas Maguire

"British and American intelligence and anti-communist propaganda in early Cold War Southeast Asia, 1948-1961"

"...this thesis is outstanding. It is a credit to the candidate, the Faculty and the University. I would like to say that the quality and the breadth of the research that underpins it is most impressive..."

2013-14 - Or Rosenboim

"The emergence of globalism. Competing visions of world order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950"

"The thesis, and the book that I hope will follow, will undoubtedly be seen as a major contribution to many of these fields...This is a very rich piece of work, which rewards its reader and which merits a very serious discussion."

2012-13 – Lindsay Scorgie-Porter

"Ruwenzori Rebels: The Allied Democratic Forces Conflict in the Uganda-Congo Borderland"

"…an important and original study of a previously very poorly understood subject, conducted under research conditions of great difficulty, and demonstrating admirable balance and sound judgement."