Prizes, Grants, and Bursaries

Society for Italian Studies (SIS) Prize and British Italian Society (BIS) Prize 

Prize Descriptors

The SIS runs two Prize Competitions – in alternate years – for work in Italian Studies at British and Irish Universities. The competition follows the same pattern for both prizes.

The Society for Italian Studies (SIS) and the British Italian Society (BIS) Prize aim to raise the profile of Italian Studies at British and Irish Universities both at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels, and to reward the excellent research being carried out in the discipline. 

  • The SIS (Society for Italian Studies) Prize for Undergraduate and Postgraduate work (in even years, e.g. 2018, 2020, etc.)
  • The BIS (British Italian Society) Prize for Undergraduate and Postgraduate work (in odd years, e.g. 2019, 2021, etc.)

The competition is open to undergraduate students taking Italian as one of their subjects until their final year and to postgraduate students (MA, MRes, MPhil, PhD) in Italian Studies who passed their work (final year essay/dissertation/thesis) during the academic year just completed. The subject matter is confined to disciplines in the humanities and social sciences relating to Italy, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Postgraduate entrants can apply only once in the course of their degree and with one piece of work.

Two prizes are available: 

  1. One prize of £250 for final year Undergraduates 
  2. One prize of £500 for Postgraduates

At the awarding panel’s discretion, a runner-up prize of £100 may be awarded for Undergraduates and a runner-up prize of £200 for Postgraduates. In case of joint winners/runners-up, each amount will be split equally. 

Each University/Institution in the UK and Ireland is invited to submit ONE candidate only for each category: a: Undergraduate, b: Postgraduate or both, following a pre-selection process, conducted in each case by the Italian Department (or equivalent) in consultation with their colleagues in Italian Studies or in other departments as appropriate; i.e. each University can submit maximum 1 UG and 1 PG entrant (either MA, MPhil or PhD entrant).

  1. Undergraduate Prize

To be considered for the Undergraduate Prize, the work must have been awarded a first class mark (70 or above). 

The supervisor/module convenor will submit two pdf files:

  1. The entrant’s final year essay (up to 5,000 words) or dissertation (up to 10,000 words) as a pdf file, with word count. This file should be anonymized (without reference to the student’s name, supervisor nor Institution and without the marker’s comments).
  2. a separate file with the marksheet, inclusive of feedback and mark. 

(We accept longer submissions for Undergraduate dissertations (up to 12,000 words) only where this is the required length in the Institution where the work is submitted.)

  1. Postgraduate Prize 

EITHER: The supervisor of Taught MA candidates should submit one pdf file:

  1. their dissertation as a pdf file, with word count, up to 15,000 words in length. This file should be anonymized (without reference to the student’s name, supervisor nor Institution).

OR: The supervisor of MRes/MPhil/PhD candidates should submit two pdf files:

  1. One with the title of the thesis, list of content, a short abstract (max. two A4 pages) detailing the context and methodology of the thesis, and the bibliography. This file should be anonymized (without reference to the student’s name, supervisor nor Institution).
  2. Another file with the submission – typically a chapter – of no more than 15,000 words in length, with word count. (If a chapter longer than 15,000 words is submitted, the judges will only read the first 15,000 words). This file should be anonymized (without reference to the student’s name, supervisor nor Institution).

All work must have been passed (at exams board or viva) during the academic year just completed. We accept work submitted during the previous academic year, when the awarding exams board or viva took place during the academic year just completed. Postgraduate students must have passed the viva (even if with corrections) by the time of the application. In all cases, the submitted piece of work must be completed (not in draft form), unpublished, and not be under consideration for publication. 

Work may be submitted in English or Italian. 

Submissions are made by the supervisor, and not directly by the student.

All submissions (both UG & PG) must be accompanied by a cover email confirming the student’s name, the degree for which they were registered and when they completed it, the supervisor’s name, and, if relevant, the type of UG project (final year essay or dissertation). We cannot accept entries without the cover email, nor resubmissions. Please include the student’s email, so that we can send them feedback on their submission, in due course.

The awarding panel is made up of members of the SIS Executive Committee.


The deadline for submissions to the next SIS/BIS Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prizes will be 17th July 2023 (5pm) for work passed in 2022-2023.

Entries must be sent by supervisors to Dr Mara Josi (SIS Prize Coordinator) at     

SIS Essay Prizes 2022: Winners & runners up prizes

Postgraduate Prize 2022 

 WINNER of the SIS Postgraduate Prize 2022 (£500):  

Fabio Simonetti, PhD in Italian Studies, University of Reading  

 PhD Thesis title: Encounters in Wartime Italy: British Soldiers and Italian Civilians, 1943-1944 

 Runner-up SIS Postgraduate Prize 2022 (£200) 

 Ellen Sharman, MA in Gender, Society and Representation, University College London 

MA Dissertation title: Cultivating masculinity: The expression of masculine identity in the gardens of Cardinal Ippolito II at the Villa d’Este, 1550-72

  Undergraduate Prize 2022 

 WINNER of the SIS Undergraduate Prize 2022 (£250): 

Louise Rossetti, BA in Liberal Arts University of Warwick 

Dissertation title: ‘From Mimesis to Poesis: Poetry, Nature, and Subjugation. Uncovering the ideological foundations of sustainability through Dante’s Divina Commedia and Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata’.

JOINT Runners-up SIS Undergraduate Prizes (£100: £50 each) 

Esme HodsonUniv. of St. Andrews

Research Essay title: ‘Spectacular women:  recovering the feminine in Elena Ferrante’s I giorni dell’abbandono

Eva Lovejoy, Univ. of Birmingham  

Dissertation title: ‘Motherhood and plasticity in the life and writing of Goliarda Sapienza’  


BIS/SIS Essay Prizes 2021 : Winners & runners up prizes 

The Essay Prizes 2021 were sponsored by the British Italian Society. 

Postgraduate Prize 2021 

WINNER of the PostgraduatePrize 2021 (£500):  

Claudia Dellacasa, PhD in Italian Studies, University of Durham 

PhD Thesis title: ‘Italo Calvino in Japan, Japan in Italo Calvino: A Cross-Cultural Encounter’ 


JOINT Runners-up Postgraduate Prizes (£200: £100 each) 

1 Anna Lisa Somma, PhD in Italian Studies, University of Birmingham 

PhD Thesis title: ‘‘Donna con donna (woman with woman): Representations of female female desire in early modern Italian literature’ 

2 Maddalena Moretti, PhD in Italian Studies, University of Leeds

PhD Thesis title: ‘Come una specie di guida’: Pasolini’s Reconceptualisation of Dante in his Theory and Practice of Realism 


Undergraduate Prize 2021 

WINNER of the Undergraduate Prize 2021 (£250): 

Freya Cazalet, BA Modern Languages, University of Cambridge

Dissertation title: ‘The Sleeping Guards: Depictions of the Resurrection in Trecento Italy’


JOINT Runners-up Undergraduate Prizes (£100: £50 each) 

1 Isabelle Ragnetti, BA in Liberal Arts, King’s College London 

Dissertation title: ‘Somali and Eritrean Postcolonial Challenges to the Homogeneous Conceptualisation of Italian Nationhood: Igiaba Scego and Erminia Dell’Oro Compared’ 


2 Ella Powell, BA in Modern Languages, Univ. Birmingham  

Dissertation title: ‘A feminist critical discourse analysis of the Italian print media’s narrative on gender-based violence’ 

WINNERS of the SIS/BIS Prize:


Winner of the SIS Postgraduate Prize 2020 (£500):

Rebecca Bowen (PhD in Italian Studies, University of Oxford), Thesis title: ‘Figures of Love: Amor from Antiquity to the Italian Middle Ages’

Runner-up Postgraduate Prize (£200)

Gianmarco Mancosu (PhD in Italian Studies, University of Warwick), Thesis title: ‘DecolonItaly. Decolonization and National Identity in Post-War Italy (1945–1960)’

Ex-equo Winners of the SIS Undergraduate Prize 2020 (£250):

Ellie Bennet (BA Modern Languages, University of Exeter),Dissertation title: ‘La fertilità è un bene comune’: Infertility, Surrogacy and Childlessness in Contemporary Italian Romantic Comedy

Livia Russell (BA Modern Languages, University of Cambridge), Dissertation title: ‘Contact and intimacy: Mario Giacomelli’s photo-poetic encounters’

Runner-up Undergraduate Prize (£100)

Claudia Halford (BA in Italian and Spanish, UCL), Dissertation title: ‘Calvino and Grossi, continuity in difference. Representing alienation and the quest for self in I nostri antenati and Pugni’


ex-equo WINNERS of the British Italian Society Postgraduate Prize 2019 (£750):

Flora Derounian (PhD in Italian Studies, University of Bristol), PhD title: ‘Representations and Oral Histories of Working Women in Post-World War Two Italy (1945-1965)’

Luca Zenobi (PhD in Italian Studies, Oxford University), PhD title: ‘Borders and the politics of space in late medieval Italy: Milan, Venice and their territories in the 15th C.’

Winner of the British Italian Society Undergraduate Prize 2019 (£500):

Esme Garlake (BA Modern Languages, University of Cambridge), Dissertation title: Ephemeral Journeys: Tracing the Lives of Early Twentieth-Century Italian Postcards


Ambra Anelotti (PhD in Italian Studies, Royal Hollaway, Univ. of London), PhD title: ‘The dissemination of Orlando Furioso: Ariosto and his poems in Southern Italy (1532-1599)’

Benjamin Rowe (University of Bristol, BA), Dissertation title: ‘Degradation and Regeneration: An Examination of the Causes of Le Vele’s Demise’

Alice Cripps (University of Kent, BA), Dissertation title: ‘Representations of Motherhood in Italian Visual Culture from the Fascist ventennio to the Modern Day


The winners of SIS Postgraduate Prize 2018 were:

  • Rachele Bezzini (Univ. of Sussex), with a PhD in Migration Studies on ‘Boundary-making in an immigrant social space: Albanian-Italian and Albanian-Romanian couples in Italy’.
  • Rebecca Walker (Univ. of St. Andrews), with an MLitt on ‘Bodily Archives: Urban Space and the Material Body in Elsa Morante’s La storia (1974)’


The winner of the SIS Postgraduate Prize 2016/17 was:

Mical Nelken (Univ. College London), with a dissertation on ‘Race and Identity in Republican Italian Schools, 1943-69’

PREVIOUS WINNERS of the Rooke Prize:

The most recent recipients of the Rooke Prizes were:

For the Rooke Prize for Undergraduates:  Lucia Crowther of the University of Reading for her dissertation on ‘The Architectural Formalisation of Pilgrimage in the Portico of the Madonna di San Luca’.  The runners-up on the UG category were Melanie Sackett (Exeter) and Isabel Orange (Bristol).

For the Rooke Prize for Postgraduates: Marianna Griffini of the LSE for her work on ‘Colonial Hybridity in the Italian Community in Libya (1926-1970)’.  Runners-up in the PG category were Kate Willman (Warwick) and Stefano Bragato (Reading).