The Undergraduate Awards - Highly Commended 2018

Highly commended award winners, from left: Cian O'hara, Ellen Smith and Catherine Ratcliffe

Congratulations to the following graduates who have been 'highly commended' for outstanding work by the Undergraduate Awards 2018. This international academic awards programme celebrates the world’s brightest and most innovative undergraduate students by recognising their best coursework and projects.

We caught up with the winning students to find out more about their work and what the achievement meant to them...

Cian O’Hara (BA History and Philosophy, 2018)

Rebellion in Song: The history of Irish nationalism during the modern period of rebellion (1798-1998) told through Irish rebel songs

"I was delighted to hear that my work had been highly commended by the 2018 Undergraduate Awards. It justifies all the self-indulgence I showed by submitting it in the first place. In all seriousness though, it feels great to have my work recognised by someone other than my dissertation tutor and my mum. I’ve always been interested in Irish History. I grew up listening to my grandfather’s Irish myths and legends and every St. Patrick’s day I celebrate with non-stop Irish music, so this piece gave me the perfect opportunity to tie all of that together. It feels brilliant that in some way I have been able to contribute to the academic understanding of Irish nationalism and in the words of Dominic Behan, 'play my part in the patriot game.'"

Catherine Ratcliffe (BsC Economics, 2018)

Does Decriminalising Sex Work Affect Crime? Evidence from the managed approach to street prostitution in Holbeck, Leeds

“I studied the impact of the recently established Red Light District in Leeds on violent and sexual crime, and antisocial behaviour. Sex work is an under discussed topic, the industry is huge and its criminalisation has huge ramifications on the safety of sex workers and the local community. Very few people in the UK are aware of the scheme currently taking place in Holbeck, Leeds. I found statistically significant evidence that the zone reduced violent and sexual crimes, but increased antisocial crimes (minor crimes such as littering). This is in keeping with every other analysis of this type for similar zones around the world. I was happy when I heard the news my work had been recognised. My supervisor, Johannes Lohse, recommended that I apply; it was easy to do and seemed like a fun opportunity."

Ellen Smith (BA History, 2018)

The concept of empire belongs at the centre, rather than in the margins, of the history of British Art (Barringer, Quilley, and Fordham). Discuss.

"I was thrilled to hear that my essay had been highly commended by the judges. I applied over the summer because the submission process was simple and such an exciting prospect. This essay was the first piece during my degree that I truly experimented with; carrying out my very own primary research into visual and textual sources surrounding the British Empire. It analysed the work of art historians, including Tim Barringer, who want to rescue their discipline from its isolated Anglo-centric shell and align the histories of colonisers and colonised closer together through art. Looking back, this essay formed the beginning of an emotional dissertation about the transnational nature of nineteenth-century families. So I’m delighted that this assignment was recognised."

For more information on the awards and how to apply, please visit the The Undergraduate Awards website.


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