Distinguished dissertation award scheme

Information for staff on the distinguished dissertation award scheme.

The schemes we know about are listed below. Each has a different scope, different application procedures, and different deadline. Typically the winning theses are published, and sometimes there is a cash prize. Note that the information below is not definitive: please follow the link to find up-to-date submission instructions etc.

Please do submit the best Edinburgh PhD theses for these awards! Receipt of an award is good for us and very good for the student concerned, as well as a feather in the supervisor's cap.

The student or student's supervisor is typically not allowed to make a nomination, or else explicit support is required from somebody else such as the external examiner, but the supervisor can initiate the process by prompting the examiners to consider whether a nomination would be appropriate. The internal examiner is reminded that this issue should be raised with the external examiner on the day of the viva. When a letter of support from the Head of School (rather than the supervisor or examiners) is required, please ask the Graduate School office for this.

When you submit a thesis to any of these competitions, please notify the Graduate School office so that we can keep track of success rates.

Graduate School Office

BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation Award

The BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation Award has been awarded to UK dissertations in Computer Science, broadly construed, since 1990. We have done fairly well with this one over the years. The usual deadline is at the beginning of April for dissertations that have been examined and recommended for a PhD in the UK since the previous deadline. Submissions are managed by the Graduate School because there is a limit on the total number of submissions per department.  Send all of the material required for a submission to the Head of Graduate School by two weeks before the April submission deadline and he will submit the top four, with the selection informed by consultation with relevant colleagues.

The BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation Award

  • 2018 Winner: Miltos Allamanis "Learning Natural Coding Conventions"
  • 2015 honorable mention: Domagoj Vrgoc. "Querying graphs with data"
  • 2014 Winner: Juan Reutter. "Graph Patterns: Structure, Query Answering and Applications in Schema Mappings and Formal Language Theory."
  • 2011 runner up: Vera Demberg, "A Broad-Coverage Model of Prediction in Human Sentence Processing", supervisor Frank Keller

  • 2009 winner: Christophe Dubach, "Using Machine-Learning to Efficiently Explore the Architecture/Compiler Co-Design Space", supervisor Michael O'Boyle

  • 2004 honourable mention: Julia Hockenmaier, "Data and models for statistical parsing with Combinatory Categorical Grammar", supervisor Mark Steedman;

  • 2004 honourable mention: Mathias Seeger, "Bayesian Gaussian process models: PAC-Bayesian generalization error bounds and sparse approximations", supervisor Chris Williams

  • 2002 winner: Ian Miguel, "Dynamic Flexible Constraint Satisfaction and its Application to AI Planning", supervisor Qiang Shen

  • 2001 winner: Simon Colton, "Automatic Theory Formation in Pure Mathematics", supervisor Alan Bundy

  • 1998 winner: Masahito Hasegawa, "Models of Sharing Graphs: A Categorical Semantics of let and letrec", supervisor Rod Burstall

  • 1997 winner: Ian Frank, "Search and planning under incomplete information: a study using Bridge card play", supervisor Alan Bundy

  • 1996 winner: Martin Hofmann, "Extensional Concepts in Intensional Type Theory", supervisor Don Sannella

  • 1995 winners: Marcelo Fiore, "Axiomatic Domain Theory in Categories of Partial Maps", supervisor Gordon Plotkin; Jane Hillston, "A Compositional Approach to Performance Modelling", supervisor Rob Pooley

  • 1992 winner: Leslie Goldberg, "Efficient Algorithms for Listing Combinatorial Structures", supervisor Mark Jerrum

  • 1991 winner: James Andrews, "Logic Programming: Operational Semantics and Proof Theory", supervisor Don Sannella

Ackermann Award

The Ackermann Award was awarded by EACSL, the European Association for Computer Science Logic, for PhD dissertations "in topics specified by the EACSL and LICS conferences" which were accepted during the previous two calendar years.

The Ackermann Award

ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

The ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award was awarded to "the best doctoral dissertation in computer science and engineering".  

The ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

British Machine Vision Association

The British Machine Vision Association has established a prize fund to commemorate the contribution made by the late Professor Geoff Sullivan to the advancement of the field of Computer Vision in the United Kingdom. The prize is considered for award, on an annual basis, to the best doctoral thesis submitted to a UK University, in the field of computer or natural vision.  The deadline is typically in January.

BMVA - Sullivan Doctoral Thesis Prize

E.W. Beth Dissertation Prize

The E.W. Beth Dissertation Prize was awarded by FoLLI (the European Association for Logic, Language, and Information) to dissertations in the fields of Logic, Language, and Information, worldwide.

The E.W. Beth Dissertation Prize

2003 winner: Jason Baldridge, "Lexically Specified Derivational Control in Combinatory Categorial Grammar", supervisor Mark Steedman

ERCIM's Cor Baayen Award

ERCIM's Cor Baayen Award is not for a PhD thesis, but for a postdoc within 2 years of completion of a PhD who is currently working in one of the ERCIM countries. The Cor Baayen Award is awarded each year to a promising young researcher in computer science and applied mathematics. The deadline is in April. Nomination is by the postdoc's current employer.

The Cor Baayen Award

EuroSys Roger Needham PhD Award

The EuroSys Roger Needham PhD Award is given by EuroSys, the European Chapter of ACM SIGOPS, for a PhD student from a European University whose thesis is regarded as an exceptional, innovative contribution to knowledge in the systems area, interpreted broadly. Deadline for applications is typically in November,  made by the supervisor - normally a maximum of one per supervisor - or head of department.

The EuroSys Roger Needham PhD Award

Robert J. Glushko Dissertation Prize

The Robert J. Glushko Dissertation Prize is given by the Cognitive Science Society and the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation to outstanding theses in cognitive science that transcend any one of the individual fields comprising cognitive science - including psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and education - centrally addressing issues of interest to multiple fields. Any student who has been awarded a PhD degree since 2 years before the deadline of 15 January can submit a thesis for consideration.

The Robert J. Glushko Dissertation Prize

2010 winner: Vera Demberg, "A Broad-Coverage Model of Prediction in Human Sentence Processing", supervisor: Frank Keller

John C. Reynolds Doctoral Dissertation Award / (Programming Languages)

Presented annually to the author of the outstanding doctoral dissertation in the area of Programming Languages. The award includes a prize of $1,000. The winner can choose to receive the award at ICFP, OOPSLA, POPL, or PLDI.  The deadline for nominations is usually around 3rd January.

John C. Reynolds Doctoral Dissertation Award

SIGMM Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in Multimedia Computing,Communications and Applications

This award will be presented at most once per year to a researcher whose PhD thesis has the potential of very high impact in multimedia computing, communication and applications, or gives direct evidence of such impact. A selection committee will evaluate contributions towards advances in multimedia including multimedia processing, multimedia systems, multimedia network services, multimedia applications and interfaces. The award will recognize members of the SIGMM community and their research contributions in their PhD theses as well as the potential of impact of their PhD theses in multimedia area. The selection committee will focus on candidates’ contributions as judged by innovative ideas and potential impact resulting from their PhD work.

SIGMM Award 

The deadline for nominations is typically in May. The initial nomination for a PhD thesis must relate to a dissertation deposited at the nominee's Academic Institution between January and December of the year previous to the nomination. The nominator must be a SIGMM member.


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Artificial Intelligence Dissertation Award

The Artificial Intelligence Dissertation Award was awarded by ECCAI, the European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence, to a European dissertation in the general area of Artificial Intelligence.

The Artificial Intelligence Dissertation Award

Classification Society Distinguished Dissertation Award

This award, supported by Chapman and Hall/CRC, was for the best PhD (or approximately equivalent doctoral) dissertation nominated by an annual deadline. The theme was clustering, classification, related areas of data analysis, encompassing both associated theory and/or applications.

The Classification Society Distinguished Dissertation Award


The EAPLS PhD Award was given by the European Association for Programming Languages and Systems for the PhD student who in the previous period had made the most original and influential contribution to the area of programming languages and systems. 

The EAPLS PhD Award

Georges Giralt PhD Award

The Georges Giralt PhD Award was given by EURON (the European Robotics Research Network) for the best robotics PhD thesis in Europe.

The Georges Giralt PhD Award