Graduate awarded Royal Historical Society for ‘outstanding’ dissertation

22 January 2015

A University of Derby graduate will see her dissertation printed in History Today early next year.

Rebecca Pyne-Edwards Banks who graduated with a First Class Honours in History with English last Thursday (January 15), has been awarded with the Royal Historical Society/History Today Undergraduate Dissertation Prize for her dissertation: Cutting Through the ‘Gordian Knot’: The British Military Service Tribunals During the Great War.

She was presented with her award last Wednesday (January 14) at a ceremony held at the Old Hall, Lincoln’s Inn, London.

The Royal Historical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize is a national and annual award, open to all UK university history departments. Each university can only put forward one student for the award. The winning student’s dissertation is published in abridged form in History Today.

Rebecca and Paul

Rebecca’s dissertation, based upon documents thought to have been destroyed in 1922, rejects the idea that the volunteer tribunal members were biased in their dealings and entirely responsible for the unjust mistreatment of men seeking exemption at the time.

She said: “I was so pleased to win this award just before my graduation. It was such an honour to see all my research, hard work and passion for history recognised. From the archive research to the writing, this piece of work was immensely enjoyable and exciting to create.

“My time at Derby has been wonderful. I started with the clear goal to become a teacher, not really knowing that I would gain so much from the experience. I cannot fault the History lecturers for their guidance, patience and kindness.”

Dr Ian Whitehead, Head of Humanities at the University of Derby was Rebecca’s Academic Supervisor for her dissertation. He added: “The award is an incredible achievement for Rebecca. At a time when there is much attention focussed on the First World War, she has produced a piece of work which captures the very human dilemmas that the conflict created and highlights some fascinating individual experiences. It is an outstanding piece of work.”

Rebecca is the second University of Derby graduate to have been shortlisted for the award. In 2003, graduate Andrew Syk came runner-up, receiving Special Mention for his dissertation The 46th Division on the Western Front.