Oxford Student Competition

Winner of the Politics in Spires Graduate Blogging Prize for Hilary Term 2012

Politics in Spires is pleased to announce the winner of the blogging contest for last term. The quality of the entries for this term was very high, and all of the contributors should be thanked for making this a truly outstanding academic blog.

One difficulty in awarding these prizes is with the diversity of the entries. One distinction is between traditional blogging, which is less formal, involves more contributions and deals with highly topical issues. Two of the best bloggers in this category are A. Blake Ewing (‘Last weekend’s disrupted Oxbridge Boat Race demonstrated what is right with British society’) and David Blagden (‘Forget the spending row: Nuclear deterrence is cheap at the price’). David even joked with Blake in his piece, pointing out that one area of agreement in their debate about nuclear armaments was on ‘the merits of avoiding doctoral dissertation work by engaging in procrastinatory blogging’.

A second distinction is between those who write in different sub disciplines. Two excellent pieces in political theory, by Rutger Kaput (‘Rawls on Wall Street: comparing his theory of justice to economic liberal theory’) and Marius Ostrowski (‘Looking back at the London Riots—moving from macro to micro analysis’) addressed the financial crisis and the London riots of August 2011 and sought insights about what critical light they might throw on liberal democratic theory. Another post worth noting was by Raluca Bresliu (‘Romania’s Rosia Montana Mining Project: another example of the policy pitfalls of resource extraction’) on the problems with a mining project by a Canadian corporations in Romania, which drew the largest number of comments and some intense debate.

From a purely academic view, the outstanding posts were those by Daniel Hutton Ferris (‘A Burmese Spring?’), a lengthy post, which discussed the countervailing political, historical and religious incentives that drive the current, developing situation in Burma; Amber Murrey (‘US Military Finances Research on Rape in DR Congo’), which pointed out serious problems in the current US approach to the problem of sexual violence in the Congo, an approach which is both too ambitious in its assumptions about generalizability and too modest in its reluctance to confront the problem of military violence in the US armed forces; and Manuel Muniz (‘Boiling over—Spain’s economy needs bold leadership’) which contained a heavily evidence-based argument about the difficulties confronting the Spanish economy: difficulties that are, according to Manuel, not shared broadly among troubled European economies but instead are unique to Spain’s recent historical and economic structures.

Although the decision was an extremely difficult one, the prize is awarded to Manuel Muniz. Congratulations!

* * * Winners of the 1st round! * * *

Politics in Spires is pleased to announce that the prize for the best blog published from November 2011-January 2012 will be awarded to the joint authors of ‘How are election preparations unfolding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)? Hope or failure? Two perspectives’—Hubertus Juergenliemk, PhD student at POLIS, University of Cambridge and a Visiting Doctoral student at the University of Oxford during the academic year 2011-12, and Lindsay Scorgie,  PhD student at POLIS, University of Cambridge. Please read their blog here.

Scot Peterson, of the Oxford Politics in Spires Oversight Committee says, ‘The blog was really interesting, original and thought-provoking It was well argued and incorporated material from students’ field work for their degrees. This is exactly what we are looking for – congratulations!’

Congratulations also to Amber Murrey and to Erwin Kippenberg, who received honourable mentions for the following posts:

  • ‘Connections between the Hydrocarbon Scramble and US Troop Deployment in Uganda?’—Amber Murrey, DPhil student in Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Please read the full text here.
  • ‘Many Trails to Freedom: Islamic Democracy is not an Oxymoron’—Erwin Knippenberg, MSc in Economics for Development in the Department of International Development (QEH), University of Oxford. Please read the full text here.

The Editorial Committee was pleased that two undergraduate students, Tim Wigmore (How the ICC can help Kenya) and Abrar Nurani (What Obama didn’t say about Iraq) have contributed to Politics in Spires and hopes that more undergraduates will be encouraged to do so.

The next round of the blog prize will run from February – April 2012: please send blogs to Oxbridge.blog@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Politics in Spires is offering three prizes (each of £75 in Amazon vouchers) for the best blog post by an Oxford student on the Politics in Spires blog the over the course of this academic year. We are looking for originality of topic, assessing the quality of argument and of analysis and will take into account factors such as the number of hits, likes etc. (please see the small print below for the criteria).

The judges for the prizes will be the Oxford blog oversight team and their decision will be final. A prize will be awarded in each of the following three periods: Monday 7 November to end January 2012; February – April 2012 and May – July 2012, but the  judges reserve the right not to award a prize in any particular period. Please note that all first student blog posts will undergo editorial review before they are posted online.

The competition is open to all Oxford undergraduate and graduate students. Please send blogs to Oxbridge.blog@gmail.com.


Criteria for judging the posts:

1.  Originality of topic: post contains interesting and original content that has not widely been published elsewhere.

2.  Quality of analysis: analysis of the subject matter has been carefully thought through and clearly presented, and where possible, raises points which may be useful for further discussion.

3.  Quality of argument: a well-supported argument, providing evidence where available and where not available, acknowledging when a statement is opinion rather than fact.

4.  Account will be taken of the popularity of the post – looking at the number of hits, likes and tweets it generates.