Prizes Awards and Medals

Each year, at the Research Students’ Symposium, prizes are awarded for the outstanding thesis for which a PhD has been awarded and for the outstanding paper by a research student.

Nomination Process

Eligibility Conditions

In all cases, prizes are for research students that are, or were, registered as such at the School of Computer Science, University of Manchester.

For a thesis nomination, the submission date must have fallen with four years of registration and the PhD must have been awarded between January 1st of the preceding calendar year and the deadline for submission (see below).

If the thesis falls within what is commonly understood as computer science, then it must meet all the criteria for entry in the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award (

For a paper nomination, the paper must have been either published or accepted for publication in an external scholarly outlet (typically, a conference of a journal) between January 1st of the preceding calendar year and the deadline for submission (see below).

The research student must be the primary and most significant author of the paper (which is typically and implicitly signalled by a placement as first author in the list of authors), otherwise the nomination must also include a covering letter explaining the role of the research student in the production of the paper.

Nominations can only come from the supervisory team and must have the consent, in writing, of the research student.

No more than two nominations for a prize can come from the same research group.


The deadline for nominations normally falls in mid-February and is always widely advertised through a call sent by the academic responsible for the Research Student’s Symposium in the Research School team (typically at the start of the year).

Nominations are sent to the academic named for that purpose in the call for nomination and consist of the items described below, separately, for theses and for papers.

Items for Nominating Theses

The nomination of a thesis must include the following items:

  1. An electronic copy (in PDF format) of the thesis
  2. The author’s written agreement to participate in the School’s competition and, if the panel so decides, the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award as well.
  3. A statement as to whether the dissertation is being considered for publication elsewhere.
  4. Written justification by one of the examiners - preferably the external - explaining the outstanding nature of the thesis.
  5. The names and contact details of at least three suggested reviewers from outside the School who have no had any participation in either the supervision or the examining of the thesis, and who have already explicitly agreed to provide a review upon request by the BCS in the context of the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award.
  6. Any other material available as evidence of merit and impact, e.g., (a) papers that are directly related to the results reported in the thesis – with acceptance rate/impact factor, if possible, for, resp., conference and journals, (b) esteem indicators such as invited research seminars/research visits, etc., (c) patents awarded, etc.

Note that it is the supervisory teams’ responsibility (not the panel’s, nor the Research School’s, more broadly) to nominate the winner thesis (and possibly selected others) to the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award, the deadline for which typically falls sometime towards the end of March, possibly up to the end of April.

Items for Nominating Papers

The nomination of a paper must include the following items:

  1. At least three substantive, anonymous, referee reports (but see below). For a conference paper, the reports needed are those notifying acceptance. For a journal paper, the reports needed are the most substantive ones, from any of the possibly many refereeing rounds. If so wished, all the reports from all rounds can be submitted.
  2. The number of papers published in the conference or journal (preferably in the year of publication, or else the historical average).
  3. The acceptance rate (resp., impact factor) of the conference (resp., journal) (preferably at the year of publication year, or else the last one available accompanied by the corresponding year of measurement).

Note that if there aren’t as many referee reports as required above or if they’re not substantive or if the data about number of papers accepted and acceptance rate/impact factor are not known, then the Research School considers that there is a lack of a priori evidence for the nomination.

In this case, the supervisory team is welcome to make a case for exemption in writing, especially in cases of journals whose impact factor is not available at all, but also in cases where there are fewer referee reports than required.

In particular, the supervisory team may wish to ask prominent researchers in the same technical area that are from outside the School and have no had any participation in the supervision to write to the panel in support of the paper. In this case, it is the supervisor(s) responsibility to make it evident to the panel how these invited expressions of support complement the referee reports and are also both authoritative and unbiased.

Award Process

The Panel

The nominations are judged by a panel of academics who are members of the Research School team, typically with three members.

The Brief

Because a member of the panel is, more often than not, not an expert in the research areas to which the thesis or paper contributes, the panel does not judge the technical quality of the submissions.

The panel aims to identify an outstanding thesis or paper on the basis of the compelling nature of the evidence amassed from expert in the research areas to which the thesis or paper contributes: this is the role, therefore, of the referee or examiner reports required for a nomination to be valid.

This means that the more compelling the testimonies, as gleaned from the referee or examiner reports accompanying the nomination, the stronger the claim to exceptional achievement.

The Outcomes

The panel aims to award one prize of outstanding thesis, but has, exceptionally, announced joint winners in the past.

For the purposes of a School submission to the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award, the winner is automatically submitted to the external competition and the panel often recommends the submission of other submitted theses when they are judged worthy of representing the School externally.

The panel awards one prize for outstanding paper and names two joint (i.e., non-ranked) runner-up papers.

The Prizes

An award comes with a certificate and a prize sponsored by an external organization (such as, in the past, Oracle, and, more recently, IBM), the origin and value of which are announced in the call for nominations.

The prizes are given to the winners at the annual Research Student’s Symposium.

An Approximate Timeline

  1. beginning of January:

    • call for nominations is sent
    • eligible students discuss potential nominations of eligible papers and theses with supervisory teams
  2. from beginning of January to mid-February:

    • students and supervisory teams construct the cases (see, in particular, the list of items above)
  3. mid-February:

    • deadline for nominations
  4. end of February

    • awards panel meets
  5. beginning of March

    • awards announced
    • supervisory team(s) of winner thesis (and possibly selected others) construct the case(s) for nomination to the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award
  6. mid-April

    • prizes are given in the annual Research Student’s Symposium
  7. between end of March and end of April (depending on an external deadline)

    • supervisory team(s) of winner (and possibly selected others) complete the Web-based process of nominating the thesis(es) to the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award
  8. between September and November

    • CPHC/BCS announce their Distinguished Dissertations Award(s)