New Voices in Cultural Relations Prize

This brand new joint BISA and British Council prize is for a Master’s dissertation which provides new scholarly insight and/or offers a new policy direction that makes an original contribution to international relations. If you're a recent graduate looking to establish yourself in the IR field, or an institution looking to promote your programmes, make your nomination now.

The prize recognises and promotes the achievements of students on Master’s programmes in international relations in the UK. We are looking for dissertations within the academic discipline of international relations or any of its subfields including international political economy.


To be considered for the prize the dissertation must have been completed/marked in the 2022-23 academic year at a tertiary level institution in the UK, recognised as an accredited degree-awarding body. Any submission will have received the best MA/MSc prize at the university, or been marked at distinction (70+) level. The dissertation can be completed in any mode (e.g. full-time, part-time or distance learning).

Only one entry per institution is allowed. No participant may win more than one prize.

The scheme is open to all Master’s students at UK universities. The nationality of the student is not relevant.

Nomination process

The nomination will be submitted by the institution on behalf of the student. Nominations are open from Monday 8 January 2024 until Monday 12 February 2024 at 11.59pm (UK time). Nominations made outside of this period will not be considered.

Please complete the online nomination form which requires you to submit the following documents: 

  1. The dissertation – to ensure impartial evaluation, the dissertation should be entirely anonymised with no references to author, tutor or university throughout. The essay should not contain any branding or other reference to the author or the submitting institution. Font written in Arial 12, single-spaced with a line between paragraphs. The document should be in MS Word or PDF format.
  2. An abstract and a short support statement (100 words max) that explains the impact (written by the academic submitting the entry), should be sent with the dissertation. In addition to summarising the dissertation, this should address the issue of potential for impact. Impact would be defined as the potential to make an original significant contribution to the field of international relations and/or the potential to change the attitudes, practices, or policies. 
  3. A covering letter on headed paper with the name and email addresses of the submitting university, the member of staff submitting the dissertation, plus confirmation that the dissertation was marked at distinction level, signed by the submitting academic. 
  4. You will also need to confirm permission from the dissertation author. You will need to confirm the following during completion of the online nomination form:
  • Agree to the submission and permission to publish their essay
  • Have read and agree to the submission guidelines and competition rules
  • Understand from ‘Personal Data’ section of the ‘Submission Guidelines and competition rules’ document how their personal data will be processed and that they consent to the use of their personal data in the manner set out in this section

Applications which do not submit all documents listed above will not be accepted. 

Evaluation criteria

The essays will be judged by experts from the field. Essays will be scored on:

  • Originality 
  • Writing style 
  • Knowledge of the subject 
  • Potential to change attitudes, practices, or policies 

The decision of the evaluation panel will be final, and no further correspondence will be entered into.

Students speaking at the BISA climate simulation 2023/24

The prize

The prize categories are:

British Council/BISA New Voices in Cultural Relations Prize (number of prizes - one)

The winner receives:

  • a paid for place at the BISA conference in June 2024 at Birmingham. N.B. The prize includes the conference fee only; any other expenses (such as travel and accommodation) must be covered by the winner
  • a certificate signed by the British Council and BISA
  • a memento
  • one-year BISA membership
  • a chance to say a few words at the BISA conference on a short video clip
  • a chance to present their ideas and discuss with other academics and practitioners in this area, at a panel discussion (online/hybrid) hosted by the British Council in September/October 2024.

British Council/BISA Special Commendation for Essay in Cultural Relations (number of prizes - four)

The winners of a special commendation will get:

  • a certificate signed by the British Council and BISA, and
  • One-year BISA membership 

All five winners mentioned above will have their essays compiled into a publication. Overall, the winning and commended essay writers will benefit from the opportunity of raising the profile and visibility of their work, reach a wider audience and engage with peers and other stakeholders as part of dissemination activities. 

The British Council will also generate a DOI for the winning essays, which will help their work being found and cited by other researchers and readers.

The benefit to the institution would be profiling their institution, and the International Relations courses offered by them.

Have a question?

For any questions not covered on this page or the downloable guidance document, send your query to, with ‘NVCR2223 – Query’ mentioned in the subject line.

Past recipients 

  • 2024 Louise Sherry (University of Warwick): The Politics of Expendability: Decolonial Reflections on the State of Climate Justice at COP27

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