Submissions are invited for the Design History Society Essay Prizes, established in 1997 to foster and support high standards in design history research in higher education. The award recognises exceptional student contributions to the field of design history. Two essay prizes are awarded annually; one to an undergraduate student and the other to a postgraduate (MA or PhD) student.

The DHS is committed to equity and inclusion and believes that engaging with a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives not only enriches the discourse but also uncovers new narratives within design history. In line with this commitment encourages applications that represent, or whose work foregrounds, diverse perspectives and under-represented narratives within the field of design history.

We aim to inform all applicants of the outcome of their submission within three weeks of the submission deadline via email.

Prize winners receive:

- one year's membership of the Design History Society (includes subscription to the Journal of Design History and eligibility to apply for further grants and awards)

- Free place at the 2024 Design History Society annual conference

- up to £200 towards the costs of travel and accommodation to attend the conference

- £100 in Oxford University Press book tokens


The essay must not have previously been published and it must have been completed within one year of the student's graduation date. For instance, an essay submitted during the student’s final year of study in 2023 would be eligible for submission for the deadline of the prize in 2024.

We welcome a diverse range of formats for submissions, including but not limited to written essays, moving image presentations, visual essays, and other innovative modes for disseminating design history research. Participants are encouraged to explore creative ways to express their ideas and contribute to the discourse in design history.

Written essays should not exceed 8,000 words including image captions and references/footnotes but excluding the list of illustrations and bibliography. A word count must be provided with the essay and on the submission form.

Assessment Criteria

Applications are anonymised and judged on the following criteria:

  • original and significant contribution of the outlined activity to the discipline of design history and its dissemination
  • the essay should demonstrate a mature and novel approach to issues, themes, and discourses currently relevant in the field of design history
  • the essay should demonstrate excellence in terms of breadth of research and should combine a good balance of primary and secondary sources.
  • 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, utilizing relevant theoretical perspectives (Marxism, feminism, etc.:· correct use of discipline-specific methodologies (archaeology, anthropology, etc.)
  • the essay should demonstrate 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.
  • the essay should be well-structured, well-written and presented to a high standard, including appropriate citations (footnotes or endnotes) and bibliography, submission should be written in English


Recipients of this grant are asked to provide a report of 500-800 words of their project (with a copy-right free image and caption) to be published on the DHS website, within 6 months of notification of receipt of the award. Alternative means of dissemination will also be considered. To discuss this matter further contact the DHS Senior Administrator, Jenna Allsopp at

Recipients must acknowledge the contribution of the DHS through the inclusion of the Society’s logo in any published or public presentation. Logos can be obtained from the DHS Senior Administrator.

Submission guidelines

Two documents in Word format are required:

    • One digital copy of the essay
    • One entry form (this can be downloaded on the side bar). This entry form must contain a nomination statement form a tutor or supervisor. Initial selection criteria should reflect the internal assessment requirements of the nominating institution: for example, an essay graded First Class Honours.

    Submissions should be emailed to the Design History Society Senior Administrator Jenna Allsopp at by 11:59pm BST on 27 June. The email subject line should clearly state “DHS Essay Prize” and the category of entry: “undergraduate”/ “postgraduate”

    No applications submitted after the above date will be considered.

    Applicants are requested not to send CVs, as these will not be taken into consideration in the judging process,

    Essay Prize 2024

    Applications for the Essay Prize should be submitted to the DHS Senior Administrator, Jenna Allsopp at

    Deadline 11:59pm BST on 27 June 2024