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BERA Doctoral Thesis Award

Every year BERA recognises academic excellence and rigour in research by a Doctoral student. This underscores BERA’s commitment to championing educational research, and celebrating and recognise excellence in the education research community.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The applicant should be a fully paid up member of BERA at the time of nominations.
  • The institution at which the student submitted their dissertation should have confirmed the degree awarded by 31st December 2023; i.e. this award is awarded to education students who have completed their doctorate in the previous year (2023).


  • £250
  • Your research presented as a BERA Blog
  • Complimentary registration at BERA Conference 2024.

Application Details

Application for the award should consist of a submitted nomination via the ‘apply now’ button (above left)

Supporting documents that must be uploaded are:

    1. A 1000 word extended abstract
    2. The thesis
    3. A supporting statement from your supervisor, second supervisor, examiner or other expert in the field outlining why they believe this dissertation meets the judging criteria below (500 words)
    4. a link to your thesis hosted on a website such as google drive, dropbox, apple documents etc.

Please note:

When submitting a document through the upload function on the application page, pleasure ensure the following:

  • The file name of the document is in this format: APPLICANT LAST NAME, APPLICANT FIRST NAME, DOCUMENT TYPE.
  • documents not recieved in this format will be ineligible for consideration.

If you require this application in a different format for accessibility reasons, please contact 


Nominations will be scored by a BERA selection panel. The panel’s judgement will be framed by the following criteria:

  • Research quality appropriate to the nature and context of the work undertaken
  • Methodological Rigour and robust research design
  • Critical engagement with, and application of, appropriate field related literature
  • Effective and critical analysis of data
  • Findings that demonstrate a potentially significant contribution to the field
  • Clarity of extended abstract
  • Originality of research area and/or methodology


2024 Winner

Thesis: The status and safety of teaching: A longitudinal study of why some young people in England become teachers, and why others do not

Profile picture of Emily Macleod
Emily Macleod, Dr

Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow at University College London

I completed my PhD at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education & Society in 2023. Within the context of national and international teacher shortages, my doctoral studied whether and why young people do, or do not, want to become teachers when they older,...

2023 Winner

Thesis: Education encounters, hybrid identities and spectral traces: contesting the myths of Aston through the accounts of South Asian Muslim Women

Profile picture of Balwant Kaur
Balwant Kaur, Dr

Assistant Professor for Race, Social Justice and Education at University of Birmingham

I am an Assistant Professor of Race, Social Justice and Education at the University of Birmingham. My research interests include: exploring the experiences of women in diasporic communities; culture and migration through a hauntological and...

2022 Winner

Thesis: New Faces and Changing Places: Discourse, identity and early career primary teachers in post-2010 Multi-Academy Trusts

Profile picture of Kathryn Spicksley
Kathryn Spicksley, Dr

Research Fellow at University of Birmingham

Dr Kathryn Spicksley is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. Her postdoctoral project is concerned with developing a playful card game to improve dialogic mentoring between early career teachers and...

2021 Winner

Thesis: Imaginative travellers in-situ: A case study of Chinese students at a UK transnational Higher Education institution

Profile picture of Jingran Yu
Jingran Yu, Dr

Assistant Professor at Xiamen University

Jingran Yu won the BERA 2021 Doctoral Thesis Award for her thesis “Imaginative travellers in-situ: A case study of Chinese students at a UK transnational Higher Education institution“ You can read the abstract below: This thesis explores the...

2020 Winner

Thesis: Learner-Centred Pedagogy and its Implications for Pupils’ Schooling Experiences and Learning Outcomes: A Mixed-Methods Case Study in Tanzania

Profile picture of Nozomi Sakata
Nozomi Sakata, Dr

Assistant Professor at Hiroshima University

Nozomi Sakata is Assistant Professor in the Centre for the Study of International Cooperation in Education at Hiroshima University, Japan. In the field of Comparative and International Education, her research interests include educational policy...

2019 Winner

Profile picture of Yasamin Alkhansa
Yasamin Alkhansa, Dr

Research Associate at University of Sussex

Yasamin Alkhansa completed her PhD at the Center for International Education (CIE) at the University of Sussex, in 2019. Her thesis, was an ethnography of official history as lived and enacted in schools in Iran which won BERA's Doctoral Thesis...

2018 Winner

Profile picture of Arunthathi Mahendran
Arunthathi Mahendran, Professor

Professor of Education, Consultant Surgeon at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London

Arunthathi Mahendran was awarded the 2018 BERA Doctoral Thesis Award for her thesis Surgeon Education, Engaging with the Immanence of Events Of Practice: An Exploration of the Ontological and Ethical Dimensions of Surgical Training and...

2017 Winner

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Sophina Choudry, Dr

Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester

Sophina Choudry was awarded the 2017 BERA Doctoral Thesis Award for her thesis: Mathematics Capital in the Classroom and Wider Educational Field: Intersections of Ethnicity, Gender and Social Class. The abstract for her thesis is below: “The...