What is the award?

In collaboration with the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) we honour the significant contribution UK postgraduate students and researchers are making in the computer science field.

If you’ve written a dissertation in this discipline and feel that the reviews of your work speak for its merit, why not speak to your university about putting it forward for this award.

Since the scheme began in 1990 we've selected over forty dissertations for publication on our website.

How to submit a dissertation

Each spring, we ask universities to contribute their dissertations by a deadline, which is usually in April.

Universities can submit up to three dissertations a year, which must be from different research groups. They must be in the field of computer science, written in the UK and awarded a degree between January of the previous year and the closing date.

Award criteria

Eligibility

For the thesis to be considered in our Distinguished Dissertation competition it should:

  • make a noteworthy contribution to the subject
  • reach a high standard of exposition
  • place results clearly in the context of computer science as a whole
  • enable computer scientists in different interests to grasp its essentials

We don’t encourage long dissertations - if the main text exceeds 80,000 words, there should be a good justification.

Dissertations can only be entered into the competition once.

Eligible dissertations should have been completed between 1 January 2019 and 31 March 2020.

Submission

The submitter of the dissertation must be the external examiner, or head of department with the examiner’s advice; and the dissertation must be the final version.

Submissions must be a single PDF file comprising the following information:

  • a URL linking to the dissertation - the submission PDF must not include the dissertation text itself;
  • a justification, preferably by the external examiner but allowably from another party, explaining the dissertation's claim to distinction (about 200-300 words);
  • the name of the primary supervisor and the research group at the university to which the research is primarily affiliated;
  • an assurance that, within the competition period, the dissertation’s examiners have recommended to the university that the thesis should be awarded a doctorate;
  • an indication of whether the work in the dissertation is being considered for publication elsewhere or has already been published;
  • the names and contact details of three suggested reviewers who have confirmed they’re happy to provide a review; if reviews are not forthcoming from these reviewers, then the thesis may not be considered by the committee.

In addition, the nominator must complete this form indicating the email addresses of student, supervisor, department and reviewers, which contains instructions as to where to send the submission PDF.

The reviewers must be independent of the supervision and examination of the thesis and have no conflict of interest with the student or their supervisor. In addition, they mustn’t be from the same department as the student, nor recent co-authors.

They will be contacted, using the email address provided by the nominator, to request indication that they are willing for their thesis to be considered in the competition.

Selection panel

The members of our 2020 Distinguished Dissertations selection panel are:

  • Katie Atkinson - University of Liverpool
  • Simon Gay - University of Glasgow
  • Mateja Jamnik - University of Cambridge
  • Iain Philips (Chair) - Loughborough University
  • Steve Schneider - University of Surrey

New members to be appointed.

When do you find out if your dissertation will be published?

An elected panel reviews the dissertations and after thorough assessment will select winning dissertations over the summer.

Winners are announced in autumn at the BCS Roger Needham Lecture, held at the Royal Society.

Previous winners

Each year, we publish the dissertation of the winning candidate.

Explore dissertations