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St John’s student wins prestigious dissertation competition prize

"Excellent work by a gifted writer"

‘Gifted writer’ Sam Willis has scooped a £250 prize for his undergraduate dissertation about the political history of the 1990s.

Sam, who graduated from St John’s last summer with a First in History, won the History of Parliament Trust Dissertation Competition 2019. He is now a postgraduate student at St John’s and is currently studying for an MPhil in Modern British History.

The judges were looking for an outstanding undergraduate essay on British or Irish parliamentary or political history. Sam won for his study of New Labour, modernisation and the suburbs between 1997 and 2001. Dr Helen McCarthy, Sam’s supervisor at St John’s, described his dissertation as ‘unusually innovative and complex’.

The judges agreed and praised the ‘excellent piece of work’ by a ‘gifted writer’. Sam will be presented with his award at an event in Parliament on 26 February 2020 to commemorate Nancy Astor’s maiden speech in the House of Commons. Astor was the first female Member of Parliament. 

Sam Willis
Sam, pictured with Jimbo, the Master's dog, on the morning of graduation 2019

Sam was also named as one of the winners of the prestigious Larmor Awards last summer.

Named after Sir Joseph Larmor, the 20th-century physicist and mathematician who was both a student and Fellow at St John’s, the awards are presented in the Master’s Lodge on the morning of graduation.

Sam received his for being a ‘remarkable student and an asset to the College’.

Published: 20/12/2019

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