Submissions are invited for the Design History Society Essay Prize, established in 1997 in order to maintain high standards in design history in higher education. Two essay prizes are awarded annually; one to an undergraduate student and the other to a postgraduate (MA or PhD).

Essay Competition Requirements

  • The entrant must be a current or graduating student (full or part time) within the academic year 2017/2018
  • The length of the essay should be between 6,000 words and 10,000 words, including footnotes (for postgraduate students this may take the form of a free-standing essay or a thesis chapter re-worked into a free-standing essay). A word count must be provided with the essay and on the submission form
  • One digital copy of the essay should be e-mailed to the Design History Society administrator, Elli Michaela Young (, by 16.00 GMT on 15 June 2018. The e-mail subject line should clearly state "DHS Essay Prize" and the category of entry: "undergraduate"/"postgraduate"
  • The essay must not be previously published
  • The essay must be accompanied by an application entry form, which includes an academic nomination
  • Essays must be submitted as PDF files with the accompanying entry form either included within or alongside the PDF in the submission e-mail.

The Essay Prize includes:

  • A bursary of £200 given by the Design History Society
  • One year's membership to the Design History Society (includes subscription to the Journal of Design History)
  • Free place at the Design History Society conference "Design and Displacement", 6-8 September 2018, Parsons School of Design, New York, and a free place at the gala dinner
  • £100 in Oxford University Press publications
  • 3 paperbacks in the Oxford History of Art series

Winners of the DHS Essay Prize are announced at the Annual DHS Conference. All authors are informed of the competition results in late July.

Essay Award Criteria

In order to obtain the highest standards for the Design History Society Essay Prize, each submission must be nominated by a professional in the field. Consideration should be given to the following selection criteria:

  1. Initial selection criteria should reflect the internal assessment requirements of the nominating institution; for example, an essay graded First Class Honours, or of MA or PhD standard
  2. The following attributes should be present in every essay selected for submission, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level:

    a. Originality
    The essay should demonstrate a mature and novel approach to issues, themes, and discourses currently relevant in the field of design history

    b. Research
    The essay should demonstrate excellence in terms of breadth of research and should combine a good balance of primary and secondary sources

    c. Method
    Methods of research and delivery should reflect good practice in design history. For example, an ideal essay would demonstrate one or more of the following:

    - detailed, object-focused description and analysis
    - application of appropriate historical approaches (social, economic, cultural, etc.)
    - a sophisticated approach to interpretation, utilising relevant theoretical perspectives (Marxism, feminism, etc.)
    - correct use of discipline-specific methodologies (archaeology, anthropology, etc.)

    d. Criticality
    Competence in questioning the essay's subject material and engaging incorporated resources, discourses and methods should be present and coherent. Submissions should surpass description of their material and demonstrate an ability to critically engage in their subject matter to further an argument
  3. Finally, the essay should:

    - be well-structured, well-written and presented to a high standard
    - include appropriate citations (footnotes or endnotes) and bibliography
    - be written in English

Good luck with your applications!

Essay Prize 2018

Applications for the 2018 Essay Prize should be submitted to the DHS administrator, Elli Michaela Young (, by 16.00 GMT on 15 June 2018.


Application Form