Undergraduate Dissertation Prize


You may be aware that university staff are undertaking industrial action to improve the poor pay and working conditions that are rampant in the higher education sector. For members of the University and College Union (UCU), this is currently happening via a marking and assessment boycott (MAB). As many students will not, therefore, have had their dissertations marked properly or at all, we have decided to suspend the DevGRG dissertation competition for the time being so as not to disadvantage those students.  We will restart the competition after the MAB has ended. We anticipate that the competition for dissertations from 2022-23 will run in parallel to the 2023-24 competition, and we will offer a prize for each year.  We are sorry for the change of plan and, like you, look forward to a successful resolution of this industrial dispute.

The DevGRG  offers an annual prize for the most promising dissertation concerning ‘Development Geographies’. The author of the winning dissertation receives a £100 book voucher.

The prize is open to any student taking a first degree in geography. Students taking joint degrees are eligible to enter for the prize, provided that at least half their course is in geography. It is suggested that no Department of Geography submits more than one dissertation for this prize. Dissertations will be evaluated by three members of the DevGRG Committee.

Dissertations, along with a copy of the dissertation instructions/guidelines given to students, should be sent by email as a PDF and should include “DevGRG UG dissertation submission” as the email subject. Please also include student details, and who to contact to announce the winner.

Submissions should be sent to:

j.t.lingham@sheffield.ac.uk (Jayanthi Lingham, Dissertations Officer, DevGRG)

or k.wilson@bbk.ac.uk (Kalpana Wilson, Co-Chair, DevGRG)

Deadline for Submissions : See above


Congratulations to our 2022 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winners! Once again, the submission standard for this year’s entries was very high – well done to all entrants for doing such impressive work.

Winner: Sam Street, UCL

Navigating the maelstrom: The conjunctural geographies of Nigerian online freelancers

Navigating the Maelstrom is a highly original dissertation that is both theoretically advanced and empirically grounded. It advances the emerging area of labour geographies on the ‘gig economy’ by moving past the Western academic focus on the ‘proletariat’ lens of unstable work to also engage in the ‘generative possibilities’ of recentering young Nigerians as protagonists in their own narratives of economic agency. We will shortly publish Sam’s blog post about the dissertation on this website.

Highly Commended: Megan Clark, University of Edinburgh

When the taps run dry’: living with crumbling water infrastructure in high-density suburbs and informal settlements in urban Zimbabwe

When the taps run dry is an excellent piece of work, both detailed in theoretical and empirical analysis and clear and engaging in tone. It brings together under-researched concepts of ‘everyday practices’ and ‘heterogeneous infrastructure configurations’ to make a strong and original contribution to research in development geographies, through exploration of the notion of ’embodied infrastructure’. The qualitative research in urban Zimbabwe uncovers some fascinating findings.

Previous Winners:

  • 1995: Ming-Lee Lim (Oxford) ‘Kotadesasi Zones: A New Hypothesis on Megalopisation in Asia: A Case Study of Beijing, China’
  • 1996: Rachel Jenkings (University of the West of England) ‘What role does female participation play in the effectiveness of community development? A Case study of the Christian Community Services Department in the Machakos Diocese of the Church of the Province of Kenya’
  • 1997: Rebecca Dell (Birmingham) ‘Visions of Africa: Pictoral Images in Oxfam Publications’
  • 1998: Haleh Darwazeh (University College, London) ‘Micro-Credit Enterprises and Women’s Empowerment’
  • 1999: Simon Hayden (Oxford) ‘Fair Trade Coffee as a Strategy for Human Development in Rural Peru’
  • 2000: Alice Pettigrew (Durham) ‘Shaka to Shakespeare: An Examination of the Relationship between Education and Identity in Twentieth Century KwaZulu-Natal’.
  • 2001: Samantha Shepherd (UWE) ‘The Attitudes of Indigenous People to Their Environment: A Study of the Bajau Community in Tukangbesi Archipelago, Indonesia’.
  • 2002: Emilie Filou (Oxford) ‘Camels, Marabouts and Docs: Health Care Provision for Tuaregs in Northern Niger’.
  • 2003: Sarah Rothmell (Birmingham) ‘The Connectivitea of Britain and Sri Lanka’.
  • 2004: Edward Poulter (Edinburgh) ‘Challenging the Epidemiological Transition: An Investigation into the Influence of Urban Slum Environments on health with Kibera Slum, Nairobi’.
  • 2005: Harriet White (Edinburgh) ‘Governance and performance: A case study of identity construction among two Karen groups’. [List of shortlisted dissertations]
  • 2006: Siobhan Luikham (UCL) ‘Why don’t the kids go to school? A comparative study of the constraints on achievement of free compulsory universal basic education (fCUBE) in Ghana from a household perspective’. [List of shortlisted dissertations]
  • 2007: Ruth Pearse (The University of Edinburgh) ‘The gender politics of credit control: Social appropriation of the mobile phone in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’
  • 2008: David Parry (Queen Mary UoL) ‘Motivation as assemblage: sustainable agriculture in rural Mexico’.
  • 2009: Richard Mallett (UCL) ”It’s like one leg is in the village, one leg is here’: Transition, Connection and (Uncertain?) Aspirations among Urban Internally Displaced Persons in Kampala, Uganda
  • 2010: Thomas Grant (Exeter) ‘Making way for Arecelor Mittal’.
  • 2011: James Mak (LSE) ‘Spaces in the (Re-) construction of Post-conflict Cambodia.’
  • 2013: Sally Millett (Durham) ‘Representing and Encountering Tanzania: Locating Agency in the Discursive Formation of Nature and Poverty in Western ‘Voluntourism’ Narratives’
  • 2014: Christopher Blois-Brooke (Durham) ‘Postcolonial destabilisation of expert knowledge through Theatre for Development? A spatial analysis in (and away from) Lusaka, Zambia.’
  • 2015: Matita Afoakwa (UCL) ‘Self, Status and Survival: The experience of return migration of professionals to Accra, Ghana’.”
  • 2016: Daphne Lee (UCL) ‘Ageing environmental relationships in Singapore.’
  • 2017: Clara Ida Bartram Gurresø (Edinburgh) ‘Why do People Volunteer? A Critical Study into the Motivations of International Volunteers.’
  • 2018: Miles Harrison (UCL) Empowering the poor?’ The effects of formalising informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.’
  • 2019: Lucy Petty (Newcastle) ‘Responsible Volunteering: A Viable Solution? A Postcolonial Reading of International Volunteering in Jambiani, Zanzibar.’
  • 2020: Rai Saad Khan (University of Oxford) ‘Lahore’s Performative Statehoods: a study of the form and practices of statehood of the Walled City of Lahore Authority in Pakistan’

The information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence. Relevant data, including name, contact details, topic and affiliation, will be processed under legitimate interest for the purposes of this dissertation prize only. Names and affiliations of prize winners will be made public on our website and will be kept on record as part of the Society’s historical archive. More information on our privacy policy can be found on our website.