Undergraduate Prizes

Undergraduate Achievement in Maritime History

The British Commission awards a small number of £75 prizes each year for undergraduate dissertations in the broad field of maritime history. The Commission’s aims are to encourage students to pursue maritime questions in their final year research, and to reward the best of that work.

Subjects eligible for consideration reflect the Commission’s view of maritime history as a wide-ranging discipline. It includes topics such as shipping, seafaring, ports, seapower, maritime labour, coastal communities, trade, exploration, shipbuilding, navigation, and fishing, and embraces a wide range of political, economic, social, technological and cultural approaches.

Nominations must be made by Heads of Department or equivalent, and the closing date for entries is 1 August in each year. Final year dissertations awarded first class marks are eligible for consideration. Project work will also be considered where extensive use is made of primary evidence, and where the portfolio includes an extended piece of writing.

For further information, please contact the Hon Secretary.

2018 Winners

John Abernethy (University of St. Andrews), ‘The Specter at the Feast’: The Royalists at Sea in the First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652-54

Adrian Full (University of Plymouth), Eighteenth-Century Sailors and Remittances

Jean-Marc Hill (University of Reading), ‘A Pirate’s Life for Us’: A Cultural and Social Assessment of the Caribbean Pirates of the Golden Age

Tobias Jones (University of Exeter), ‘Rum, Bum, and the Lash’: Homosexual Behaviour Amongst Men in the British Royal Navy during the Second World War, 1939-45

James Andrew McGregor (University of Exeter), The Geniza Merchants: Local, Regional and Extra-Regional Mediterranean Commercial Exchange (1080-1160 AD / 472-544 AH)

Josephine O’Dowd (University of Warwick), Nutmeg: ‘The Headiest and Most Blood Soaked of the Spices’. What Were the Implications of the Nutmeg Trade between 1599 and 1621?

Previous Prize Winners


    • Lee-Jane Giles (University of Plymouth), ‘All that you refuse to do is mutiny’: Contextualising the Marine Mutiny at Plymouth, 1797.
    • Finn Halligan (University of Warwick), ‘[N]othing can be more uninteresting’: The Social and Cultural Contexts of Navigational Instruments and their Development between c.1600 and c.1800.
    • Yeming Li (University of Oxford), Steamships and the State: The China Merchants Company, 1911-1927
    • Stewart Murphy (University of Kent), How was Britain Affected by the Introduction of Napoleon’s Continental System along the Baltic Coast between 1807 and 1814?
    • Louis Osborne (University of Hull), The Impact of the Napoleonic Wars upon Hull’s Foreign Trade, 1803-1815
    • Sam Wright (University of Hull), The Impact of the Hull Dock Company on the Development of the Port of Hull


  • Scott Daly (University of Portsmouth), ‘A Beast Named Donald Trail’: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of an 18th-Century ‘Arch-Villain’
  • Elizabeth Denny (University of Warwick), The Global Luxury of Lacquer: An Exploration into the Eastern Trade Networks and European Reception of Lacquerware in the 18th Century
  • Jessica Dytham (University of Nottingham), How Successful were the Slave Merchants in Liverpool at Adapting to the Abolition of Legal Slave Trade?
  • Leah Mason (University of Plymouth), ‘The Turks are Upon our Coasts’: The Effects of 17th-Century Barbary Piracy in Devon and Cornwall
  • Adam Wyett (University of Hertfordshire), The East India Trade and its Management: Incentives and Controls
  • Michael Warren (University of Exeter), Ship Technology and Arctic Exploration, 1818-1859


  • Laura Burkinshaw (University of Hull), To What Extent did the Navy League Influence Popular Naval Enthusiasm between 1894 and 1914?
  • Brython Wyn Edwards (Bangor University), ‘The Last King of Man’: A study of the reign of King Magnus Olafsson and the relationship of the Kingdom of Man and the Isles with both the Kingdoms of Scotland and Norway during this period
  • Scott Matthewson (University of Southampton), ‘The Arabs, for their Part, were All in Despair’: An assessment of the second Arab siege of Constantinople, 717-8, and the reasons for its failure
  • Timothy Moots (Queens University), Economic Decline in the Eastern Port Towns during the Hundred Years’ War
  • Louis Morris (University of Cambridge), Ambiguous Identities in the US Encounter with Piracy on the Barbary and South China Coasts, 1783-1839
  • Callum Petty (King’s College London), A ‘Post-Maritime Nation’? British Historicisations of Ships and Seaborne Trade in the Twentieth Century


  • Michael Joseph (University of Oxford), ‘To be hanged in Chains in the most publick Place where Ships pass and repass’: The Punishment of Maritime Crime at Execution Dock, 1701-1784
  • Leon Rees Palmer (University of Portsmouth), Pirate or Patriot? Sir Henry Morgan’s Competing Identities and the 1685 Libel Case of ‘Morgan vs Malthus’
  • Ben Schilperoort (University of Cambridge), A Reflexive Relationship: Liverpool’s Slave Merchants and their Experience of Privateering and Risk, 1776-83
  • Thomas Schlee (University of St Andrews), Cloth, Cannon, and Consuls: The English Diplomatic and Maritime Presence in the Kingdom of Naples, 1682-1689
  • Joshua Wesley Smith (University of Hull), Rags and Nails in the Soup: The 1903 Jeune Committee’s Investigation into the Mercantile Marine’s Provisioning System
  • Adam Sumnall (University of Exeter), ‘Nautical Economies of Power’: Officers’ Attitudes towards Corporal Punishment and Penal Reform in the Late Georgian Navy, 1815-1835
  • Samuel Wood (University of Glasgow), A Slave Port Forgotten: Lancaster and the British Slave Trade, 1736-1807


  • Graham Buckton (University of Hull), What Were the Key Challenges Faced by the Society for Promoting Missions to Seamen Afloat at Home and Abroad from its Formation in February 1856 to its May 1858 Merger with the Mission to Seamen off the Coasts of Great Britain?
  • Chris Chapman (University of Hull), The Hull Sailors’ Home, 1840-1886
  • James Ellis (University of Exeter), Were the Alterations to the Articles of War in 1749 and 1779 the Result of Changing Perceptions of Cowardice?
  • Alexander Shorrock (University of Kent),Letters to the Editor: A Study into the Public’s Perception of the Peninsular and Oriental Company through the Letters Pages, 1840-1880
  • Peter Thomason (University of Nottingham), A Reflexive Relationship: Liverpool’s Slave Merchants and their Experience of Privateering and Risk, 1776-83
  • Matthew Tozzi (University of Exeter), An Investigation into the Role of the Carronade during the American Revolutionary and French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars


  • Jonathon Grant (Durham University), Pamphlets, Protestantism, and Profiteering: English captivity accounts of the Barbary Coast, 1587-1704
  • David Hazeel (University of Exeter), Reforming the Lower Decks of the Royal Navy, 1898-1919: The Role and Influence of Lionel Yexley
  • Alexander Jeffery (University of Oxford), Admiral Sir Benjamin Caldwell, 1739-1820: An Irish Protestant in the Navy
  • Joseph La Hausse de Lalouvière (University of Cambridge), Joseph-François Charpentier de Cossigny and Enlightened Reform in the French Indian Ocean, 1763-1809
  • Ian Parker (University of Portsmouth), An Island as Janus: The Two Faces of Jamaica
  • Peter Randle (University of Hull), The Mystically Minded Mariner


  • Zakir Asver (London School of Economics), The British Privateering Enterprise: Decentralization, Productivity and Incentives during the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, 1739-1763
  • Edward Gillin (University of Kent),’Diligent in Business, Serving the Lord’: John Burns, Evangelicalism and Cunard’s Culture of Speed, 1878-1914
  • Peter Jones (University of Hull), Jack Tar and the Periodical Press: What Periodicals Can Tell Us about the Movement for Reform of Merchant Shipping, 1850-1900
  • Samuel William Le Pard (University of Nottingham), An Environmental History of Orford Ness
  • Laura Smith (Newcastle University), Human Intercourse and Human Improvement: the Journey of Seven Japanese Sailors around the World
  • Joshua Montague-Munson (Queen’s University), The Early Years of the South Sea Company


  • Max Cosby (Newcastle University), The Politics of Aircraft Carriers and the Royal Navy, 1965-2010
  • Cameron Dron (University of Glasgow), The Evacuation of St. Kilda: A Reassessment
  • Ryan Charteris (Queen’s University Belfast), Sir Thomas Lipton and the Americas Cup
  • Olivia Pengelly (University of Hull), How the Board of Trade reacted to Colour Blindness and the Impact on Safety at Sea, 1877-1914
  • Heather Stewart (University of Edinburgh), Unintended Consequences: The Scottish Fishing Industry and British Fisheries Policy, 1950-80
  • Malcolm Venning (King’s College London), The Italian Navy, 1915-1018: Ally or Incubus?


  • Theodora Burrell (University of Glasgow), Pirates and Piracy; Different representations and attitudes in A General History of the Pyrates (1724 and later editions)
  • Rebecca Chenery (University of Edinburgh), A whale over time: The value of the catch versus the value of conservation in IWC negotiations, 1946-1974
  • Richard Dunley (King’s College London), An analysis of Royal Navy mine warfare policy, 1904-1910
  • Thomas Humphreys (University of Manchester), The ‘Golden Age’ of Piracy and the West African slave trade, 1689-1726
  • Mark Petersen (University of Oxford), The ‘Baltimore’ Affair and the question of American neutrality during the Chilean revolution of 1891
  • Max Thompson (University of Nottingham), England and the ‘Golden Age’ of the Barbary Corsairs, c. 1620-1660


  • Matthew Briggs (London School of Economics), The transition from sail to steam-powered trawlers: How did it affect the living standards of Hull fishermen, 1884-1913?
  • Andrew Robinson (University of Hull), Better protected than Trafalgar Square: Were the local authorities guilty of over-reaction during the 1893 Hull dock strike?
  • Matthew Phillips (University of Nottingham), The English navy and merchant shipping, 1377-85
  • Christopher Fowler (King’s College London), Genuine threat or useful pretext? Extraregional state responses to contemporary maritime piracy in Southeast Asia
  • Richard Miller (University of Nottingham), Atlantic slavery and the revolution in cotton textile production in Lancashire: A critique of the Inikori thesis
  • Simon Williams (University of Leicester), The Dardanelles debacle: Forcing the Straits, 1915


  • Sarah Collinson (University of Oxford), The social world of the female transportee: Power structures and social relations on the Lady Juliana and other First Fleet convict ships, 1787-9
  • Kelly Davis (University of Exeter), The introduction and development of searchlights in the Royal Navy
  • Philip Meakins (University of Exeter), The English chart-making trade from 1650-1700, and its reaction to English maritime expansion
  • Andrew Pritchard (University of Hull), Social reform in the late Victorian mercantile marine: The case of the Merchant Seamen Bill 1878
  • Thomas Sheppard (University of Exeter), Manpower issues in the Fleet Air Arm, 1939-1945
  • Scott Sullivan (Durham University), Dreadnought? An examination of the social impact of the 1906 launch of the Dreadnought and the 1909 visit of the Fleet to Southend


  • James Ainsworth (University of Manchester), The Imperial Maritime League in British politics and society, 1908-1913
  • Rafael Halpin (University of Oxford), The Titanic Relief Fund (1912) and charity
  • Daniel Marsden (University of Hull), The dangers of the dockside: Topography and mortality in the sailortown of Hull during the nineteenth century
  • Andrew Petersen (University of Exeter), The role of the Leeward Islands Squadron in the development of British naval strategy in the West Indies, 1739 to 1763
  • Jessica Scott (University of Durham), ‘Scum upon scum and dregs upon dregs’: An examination of the female convicts transported to Australia 1788-1840, their experience and the perceptions surrounding them