UCL Institute of the Americas


Winners of departmental dissertation prizes announced

10 December 2020

Dissertation winners 2019-20

Every year, UCL Institute of the Americas awards prizes to the best Master's dissertations. We would like to congratulate the winners of the 2019-20 competition:

Yifei Li - International Relations Dissertation Prize for her work 'A carefully constructed unintended consequence: Development of Medicare as a patchwork system, 1965-1997', which was co-supervised by Dr Nadia Hilliard and Professor Jonathan Bell.

A thoughtful observation of Yifei's: 'The year 2020 is hard for all of us to navigate, but it is also a unique context in which the coronavirus forced some major parts of our daily routine to stillness while encouraging us to welcome the sudden increase of silence and the subsequent inner quest. This is why I would regard myself as more a beneficiary of self-isolation than the 'winner' among so many competitors. Most importantly, it was with both the intellectual and social support from our institute, and especially with the encouragement and guidance from my supervisors, Jonathan and Nadia, that I managed to find what I am enthusiastic about and progress daily in this direction.' Yifei is now undertaking PhD studies at the Institute, again under the supervision of Nadia and Jonathan.  

Agisilaos Papageorgiou - Roosevelt Prize for the best US-themed dissertation, titled The Question of Anti-Americanism: Assessing American interventionism in Greece through the lens of American Exceptionalism (1947-1949 and 1967-1974). This project served to complete his MA in History and Politics of the United States, and it was supervised by Dr Nadia Hilliard.

Agisilaos commented: 'I am extremely proud and grateful to have received the Roosevelt Dissertation Prize, and I am happy that I was able to produce solid academic work on Greco-American relations. This would have never happened without the immense support of the academic and professional staff of the Institute, as well as the wise counsel of Dr. Hilliard. I would also like to thank the students of the 2019-2020 cohort—and especially the wonderful people in the back rows—as they raised the bar of academic standards and pushed me to work as hard as I could; I wish them all the absolute best for their careers.' Agisilaos is currently pursuing his PhD studies with us

Tom Peach - Allende Prize for A Deadly Trade: Drug Factions, Competition and Violence in Bahia, Brazil, deemed the best Latin America-themed dissertation. Tom worked under the supervision of Dr Katherine Saunders-Hastings and Dr Malu Gatto. His MSc degree was in Globalisation and Latin American Development.

Tom says: 'I'm extremely proud and honoured to have been awarded the Allende Prize. Writing my dissertation was a long process and definitely stressful at times, but to receive recognition for my work is amazing. However, there's no way I could have done it without the support and advice of my supervisors, Katherine and Malu, whose input proved invaluable. Studying at UCL was a fantastic experience and one that has only deepened my passion for Latin America.' Tom is currently working for the Chartered Insurance Institute and he is considering career opportunities more connected to his degree: the diplomatic service, a media outlet or an NGO. Tom would also love the chance to visit Brazil again after the pandemic is over.

The Chair of the Postgraduate Board of Examiners at the Institute of the Americas, Dr Par Engstrom, added: 'It is with great pleasure that we announce these awards every year. In addition to the honour of the award, each winner will receive a prize of £100, and will be nominated for inclusion on the Dean's list as outstanding students during their time at UCL Americas.'

If you are interested in pursuing a Master's degree with us, please have a look at our current portfolio of MA and MSc programmes, covering nearly every region of the American continent and delivered with an interdisciplinary approach. Also, please be advised of the upcoming round of virtual open days for PGT degrees, to take place between December 2020 and January 2021*. More information and registration here.

* Slots for UCL Institute of the Americas are scheduled for January 2021, but early registration is recommended.


MSc International Relations of the Americas degree programme

MA in History and Politics of the United States degree programme

MSc Globalisation and Latin American Development degree programme

MA and MSc programmes offered by UCL Institute of the Americas

Dr Nadia Hilliard - academic profile

Professor Jonathan Bell - academic profile 

Dr Katherine Saunders-Hastings -  academic profile

Dr Malu Gatto - academic profile

Dr Par Engstrom - academic profile

Graduate Research students

Information and registration for the winter open days round


[from l to r]

Yifei Li, Agisilaos Papageorgiou, Tom Peach