Distinguished Dissertations

Young woman looking at a computer screen

CPHC (the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing), in conjunction with BCS, annually selects for publication the best British PhD/DPhil dissertations in computer science. The scheme aims to make more visible the significant contribution made by the UK - in particular by post-graduate students - to computer science. Publication also serves to provide a model for future students.

The selection panel operating on behalf of BCS and CPHC consists of experienced computer scientists (not more than one from any institution), each normally serving on the panel for three years. The panel will consider any dissertation submitted for a doctorate in the British Isles in what is commonly understood to be the field of computer science. Theses which are essentially in another discipline, despite making use – even very extensive use – of computing, will not be regarded as eligible. A university is limited to three dissertation submissions per year, and one per research group.

In the spring of each year a call for nominations is circulated with a closing date in April. Theses awarded a degree from January of the preceding year up to the closing date are eligible. Judging takes place over the summer, based on reviews of each thesis garnered from international experts in the area; the panel selects from the submissions a small number of dissertations which it regards as exemplary, and one overall winner. The results are announced in the autumn and, whenever possible, the prize winner receives his / her award at the prestigious BCS Roger Needham Lecture, held at the Royal Society. Over forty theses have been selected for publication since the scheme began in 1990.

The competition period for the 2017 competition is now closed. The 2018 competition is for theses accepted between 1 January 2017 and the closing date of 1 April 2018.