LSE Students

MSc Prizes

MSc Dissertation: Silverstone Prize is offered in the name of the late Professor Roger Silverstone, founder of the Department of Media & Communications for a piece of work in the field of media and morality.

Best MSc Dissertation Prize awarded to the student whose dissertation is awarded the highest numerical mark.

Best Overall MSc Performance Prize awarded to the student with the highest overall and highest numerical mark.

2016-17

Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

This prize is awarded to the student with the highest aggregate mark in the Department. 

WINNER: Juan Floreal Graña, MSc Political Communication, with an aggregate of 302

Microsoft Research Prize in Data and Society

This prize is awarded to a distinction-level dissertation that develops a critical perspective on the study of data in communication and society.

WINNER: Zhiyao Zhu, MSc Media & Communications (Data & Society) with a mark of 70

Where Are Social Scientists in Big Data Research? A qualitative investigation into a scholarly divide between social scientists and computer scientists.

"Where Are Social Scientists in Big Data Research? A qualitative investigation into a scholarly divide between social scientists and computer scientists. Clear presentation of the context of research, what is at stake, and which questions should be asked. Very clear and articulated review of the literature on big data research (potentials and critiques), and pertinent use of critical data studies as a conceptual framework. Great review of the current debates on CS/social science divide for big data research, with great representation of the different perspectives. Coherent choice of methods and selection of respondents. The results of the interview are presented in a clear and structured narrative. If the results of the two first themes are not the most surprising (perhaps coming from the questions asked), the third part, adopting a normative dimension to the research, brings interesting leads on the topics". JCP

Best Dissertation Prize

This prize is awarded to the dissertation with the highest mark at distinction level.

WINNER: Juan Floreal Graña, MSc Politics and Communication with a mark of 85

“This is an excellent dissertation, eloquently written, engaging, well executed. It focuses on a protest movement against electronic voting in Argentina. There is not much to fault here, in my view. The literature review is very sophisticated and engages well with social movement theory. Great to also discuss the critiques of connective action, which is well articulated. The conceptual framework is excellent. Given the centrality of hybridity in the lit review, I was wondering why this concept is not part of the RQs? But, this is a detail. The methods section is well argued and the choices are justified really well. Finally, the results section is excellent and fascinating. Very strong conclusion linking back to the literature and theory. Well done!”  BC 

Silverstone Dissertation Prize

This prize is awarded to the best distinction-level dissertation which continues the work of the late Professor Roger Silverstone. This dissertation should address the key theme of Roger Silverstone's intellectual legacy, media and morality, and should engage with an ethical aspect of mediation, in its production, representation or consumption dimensions.

WINER: Yara FARRAN MSc Media & Communications with a mark of 72

Imagining ‘The Migrant’ Through Political Spaces Of (In) Security: Artistic Reproductions of the Image of Aylan Kurdi

This dissertation presents a sophisticated and eloquent approach to the visual representations of the current "migration crisis" through the analysis of mediated artistic representations of Aylan Kurdi's body. The research is driven by an original interdisciplinary approach to bordering power and empirically examines how the body of Aylan Kurdi acts as a space of negotiation between biopolitics and geopolitics. The literature review is rich - even if at times too tense - and uses an innovative critical approach to theorising the border and power, with Lefebvre's articulation of space as a starting and end point. The Lefebvrian approach to space speaks to the main literature on critical migration studies, critical border studies and humanitarianism. Drawing from this literature, the student proposes a conceptual framework that examines how artistic images that use Aylan's body negotiate and frame the biopolitics and geopolitics of the "migration crisis". A visual analysis of 10 images through Barthian semiotics is introduced through a thorough and reflexive methodological discussion. The main part of the dissertation is constituted by three main parts that provide a deep and thoughtful discussion on the individual images; the construction of a humanitarian discourse across them; and the ideological frames that they project. This is a rich and thought-provoking analysis. If anything, it could have been even better with less dense theorisation (e.g. some concepts such as nation-state remain inevitably unexplored) and with some further discussion on the genre of artistic imagery versus factual mediated imagery of the "migration crisis". Still, excellent piece.  MG

Department of Media and Communications Excellence Prizes

The Media and Communications Excellence Prizes are awarded to the students with the highest aggregate mark in each programme, who have not received the Best Dissertation, Silverstone or Best Overall Student Prizes.

Prize for Excellence in MSc Global Media & Communications

Winner: Sanaya Chandar

“Sanaya, you are a star. You achievements are so impressive, especially in LSE’s competitive environment where it takes a lot of hard work to achieve your grades. It was such a pleasure to work with you. We congratulate you and wish you the best at USC.” TR

Prize for Excellence in MSc Media & Communications

Winner: Yuka Sen

“Your performance was exemplary and as a result of this you are a very worthy winner of our excellence prize. Given that the MSc in Media and Communications is the largest programme in our Department this is an amazing achievement for which you should be highly commended. Congratulations, well done and I wish you all the very best!” BC

Prize for Excellence in MSc Media, Communication & Development

Winner: Ambika Tandon

“Ambika Tandon arrived at LSE sparkling with wit and ideas. She threw herself into the work and life of the Media, Communication and Development programme, understanding its ethos from the very outset, and bringing new challenges from the Indian context to our discussions of theory. Her commitment to social justice never precluded her ability to connect with others and find humour in grim reality. Her written work has been consistently outstanding. Both during discussions and in her written papers she problematized concepts, reflected on her own positioning and that of other scholars and practitioners in a critical manner, and drew out the political and personal tensions between global south and global north geopolitics. I am sure that her batch-mates and teachers would agree, she is an inspirational young scholar and should consider continuing her studies to doctoral level.” SB

Prize for Excellence in MSc Media & Communication Governance

Winner: Michael Moss

“It is always a privilege to teach at LSE but it has been a great privilege to teach Michael Moss. He has excelled in his degree, because he brings both originality of thought and a particular rigour to his postgraduate work. He chose to work on some difficult topics out of his personal conviction that they are the topics that matter, in both the Law and the Media departments, and he has done exceptionally well, never below distinction. I am sure he will go on to make a big contribution to the field and hope that he has benefitted from his time at LSE as much as we have benefitted from his.” DT

Prize for Excellence in MSc Politics & Communication

Winner: Fabian Ferrari

“Fabian’s performance over the course of his degree really was quite remarkable. He scored a distinction in every single module he attempted. To achieve consistency at such a high level during an MSc degree really is a remarkable achievement – very well done!” NA

2015-16

Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

This prize is awarded to the student with the highest aggregate mark in the Department. 

WINNER: Tomas Borsa, MSc Politics and Communication, with an aggregate of 298.5

Microsoft Research Prize in Data and Society

This prize is awarded to a distinction-level dissertation that develops a critical perspective on the study of data in communication and society.

WINNER: Atilla-Filipe Cevik,  MSc Politics and Communication

Life in the Filter Bubble: A Platform Perspective on User Selectivity in Online News Consumption

‘All of the panel members agree that this is a fantastic piece of work and worthy of this prize. All agree that it addresses existing research in an engaging and critical way, and employs significant methodological innovation in collection and analysis. The essay is a fascinating, original, very well structured and extremely well argued thesis. Bravely and convincingly challenges existing research and conventional wisdoms about news consumption and selective exposure to online news. Fascinating finding that personalisation and algorithmic curation on digital news reduce diversity - but only under certain conditions. Significantly, both markers and prize reviewers agreed that this is a publishable piece and that the student should pursue publication as soon as possible!’ AP

Best Dissertation Prize

This prize is awarded to the dissertation with the highest mark at distinction level. Four candidates were awarded the highest mark of 80:

WINNERS:

Shutong Wang, MSc Global Media and Communication (USC)

Loudspeaker Broadcasting as Community Radio: A qualitative analysis of loudspeaker broadcasting in contemporary rural China in the framework of alternative media

‘This is an interesting and even pioneering thesis that even challenges western theorization about the role loudspeaker broadcasting in a Chinese village. The author cleverly uses the literature on community and on alternative radio and juxtaposes the theorization and the results with her own. The thesis overuses Bailey, Cammaerts and Carpentier (2008) as the main source. All the rest is excellent including the pictures the author took while doing interviews in the village. The thesis is based on extensive reading and the Bibliography is almost faultless.’ TR 

Atilla-Filipe Cevik, MSc Politics and Communication

Life in the Filter Bubble: A Platform Perspective on User Selectivity in Online News Consumption

‘A fascinating empirical examination of content sorting in online news aggregators. It is a totally novel study and features an extremely well defined and position to the literature, framing and then answering three types of questions. It provides a good hypothesis challenging and interrogating current leading research, with well specified hypotheses. An interesting methodology almost amounts to reverse-engineering, leading to an important insight that algorithms are not structuring forces along, but are always about articulations to platforms. This is an important empirical validation of the claim that algorithmic curation reduces diversity, but also disproves hypotheses that political news is sorted based on political preference. Commendable work and should be published as soon as possible!’ AP 

Esteban Bertarelli Valcarcel, MSc Media, Communication and Development

21st Century Cholos: Representations of Peruvian Youth in the Discourse of El Panfleto

‘This is an original sharp, succinct and historically alert piece of work, that pays tribute both to Peruvian and other Latin American sources as well as to the theories and concepts acquired during the year. Your writing is mature and moves seamlessly through concepts of voice, representation, hegemony, constraint and irony, forming a conceptual basket that acknowledges both the structural constraints and the fluid aspects of Peruvian indigenous constructions of identity in the new media arena. Your analysis, findings and discussion section provides an exemplary deconstruction of symbolic violence and efforts to resist this on the part of your subjects, the eponymous 'Cholo' youth of El Panfleto. Brilliant, and ethically reflexive work. It would be good to cut and sharpen the lit review, do a thorough proof read to eliminate occasional spelling mistakes, and publish this. In future, to strengthen even further, ensure that you explain the application of your method at every stage and retain this in relation to the examples you pick out to analyse.’ SB 

Dokyum Kim, MSc Media, Communication and Development

Are All Lives Valued? Worthy ‘Us’, Unworthy ‘Others’: A Comparative Content Analysis of Global News Agencies’ Pictorial Representation of the Paris Attacks and the Beirut Bombings

This is an exceptionally clear and well-designed study which uses a rigorous and highly detailed content analysis to demonstrate quite striking evidence of how, within the standard image-making practice of two leading global news agencies, there is a regular hierarchization not just of events in the west over those in the east, but also between the lives involved in those events. The dissertation is very clearly written throughout and beautifully presented, including the details of ICR tests, codebook histograms in the appendices. You situate your study extremely well in the triple literature on visual analysis (with some nice historical details and excellent details on camera angles etc), Orientalism in general and in relation to media, and the more recent literature on distant suffering and grievability (Butler), also making powerful use of this literature at the dissertation’s end. You propose two clear hypothesis with three clear research questions and proceed to answer them very effectively. The way in which, through detailed analysis, you confirm Chouliaraki’s theory about the significance of extraordinary versus ordinary events is very powerful, precisely because of its rigorous detail. Your account of sampling, the refinements to the codebook (following ICR tests) and other methodological aspects is excellent. The findings themselves e.g. on regular variations in emotional tone and the types of action displayed in typical images is very striking, and also sensitive to possible counter-arguments. The conclusion is also very powerful. A superb piece of work. Well done!’ NC

Silverstone Prize

This prize is awarded to the best distinction-level dissertation which continues the work of the late Professor Roger Silverstone. This dissertation should address the key theme of Roger Silverstone's intellectual legacy, media and morality, and should engage with an ethical aspect of mediation, in its production, representation or consumption dimensions.

Shutong Wang,  MSc Global Media and Communications (USC)

Loudspeaker Broadcasting as Community Radio: A qualitative analysis of loudspeaker broadcasting in contemporary rural China in the framework of alternative media

"This very well constructed and bravely researched dissertation re-theorizes community media by examining the use of loudspeaker broadcasting in rural China. Using but moving beyond existing frameworks for community media, it foregrounds the voices and media production experiences of Chinese villagers.  With an interest in both the hierarchical forms of control of this local media as well as the differential value of such ‘minor’ forms of media, the paper’s approach makes a contribution to media ethics of production and consumption, from a key non-Western perspective. It also advances a new framework for community media that takes into account local specificity, and enhances the field of media ethics by offering a fresh and rich perspective of media practice for public good.  It is a theoretically and methodologically robust piece that demonstrates sensitivity and reflexivity in gaining access to a difficult field. In addition to its broad contributions to media ethics by focusing on alternative modes of production, the paper also demonstrates a open, sensibility to engagement with interviewees. The committee chair notes: “I love the defense of local broadcasting by the interviewees!” AP

2014-15

Kathryn Higgins - Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

Shani Orgad, Director MSc Media and Communications 

'Kathryn has been an exemplary student, achieving Distinction marks in every module of her degree, including her dissertation for which she received High Distinction and was awarded the Silverstone Prize. She has made valuable contributions to lectures and seminar discussions, as well as to the social aspect of her programme and department. Her attitude was always positive, constructive and respectful, both in and outside the classroom.' 

John Ray - Best Dissertation Prize

Finding Ferguson: Geographic Scale in the United States’ National Nightly Network News

Supervisor: Robin Mansell

‘This is an exemplary dissertation. The tripartite conceptualization of scalar geographic language – vertical, horizontal, binary is investigated in the light of the role of the media’s language – this works very well. The link between institutionalism and control and media editor desire to preserve some sense of community is juxtaposed with the ‘national’ news media with a good discussion of disruptive media events and media events. Interesting discussion re those at centre of disruption and those producing the media coverage about disruptive events and excellent research design. Turns to symbolic power of naming and its influence over imagined geography – naming and maintaining (creating an original link to geography literature). The empirical study is well executed and the discussion is very thoughtful. The dissertation is very well written and the bibliography demonstrates extensive reading.’

Kathryn Higgins - Silverstone Prize 

Imaging (In)security: Towards developing critical knowledges of security in a mediated social world

Supervisor: Sarah Cefai

‘Many congratulations for writing such an immense dissertation. The project as a whole, the way in which you conceived of it, worked it through and expressed its written formation, is outstanding. The level of originality and the sophistication of your analysis is extremely impressive and productive--readers in both critical security studies and media and communications will have their eyes opened by this work. I appreciate the nuance of your interpretation and presentation of argument, as well as your ability to 'fit' or think holistically about these fields of knowledge are their applicability (or, mediation) socially. The ideas you engage with are challenging (particularly, mediation) but you have elucidated the key points, the key intervention and significance of this particular framework/body of ideas/form of thinking in a way that really captures both the specificity in terms of application as well as the broader historical moment in which your analysis is situated. This really is impressive. I also found that your analysis reflected a certain precision and eloquence. I particularly enjoyed your move to time and place before arriving at the visual--this is an (again) original and sophisticated way of thinking through the implications of mediation within / how mediation is implicated by, its particular social positioning. This is a really wonderful piece of scholarship that deserves a certain regard. Well done.’

2013-14

Abigail Kang - 2014 Best MSc Dissertation Prize

‘Yes, I Do Mind: Constructing Discourses of Resistance against Racial Microaggressions on Tumblr’

This dissertation on the construction of discourses on the blogsite Tumblr in resistance to racial micro-aggressions experienced by diverse people of colour is one of the best I ever read. It is sophisticated, original both in theorisation and application of the subtleties of the Critical Discourse Analysis method in an online context. Theoretically it is superbly informed, and uses reading beyond the reading lists provided. This piece reads Foucault through a deeply ethical lens, which deepens the analysis considerably. It pays attention to the minutiae of discourse and racial power embedded in gesture, language and expression as well as in counter-hegemonic cues related to an intersection of gender or sexuality and race. The abstract, appendices and structure are sharp, thorough and informative. The argumentation is superb, reflexive and thoroughly convincing, leading us to the unsettling conclusion that life for people of colour in Europe, Australia and North America is lived against a constant, exhausting undertow of historical injustice and material prejudice so deep-seated that even to mention it or draw attention to it in interpersonal contexts such as work marks one out as doubly 'other'.

Clare Sheehan - Silverstone Prize

‘The Selfie Protest: A Visual Analysis of Activism in the Digital Age’

This dissertation undertook a substantial visual analysis of protest selfies, employing social semiotics. This is an impressive piece of work, with a clear and purposeful literature review, and a mature and balanced discussion of critical discourse theory. The work shows an excellent grasp of social semiotics and an extremely rigorous application of it. The analysis creates a provocative operationalization, which draws out new perspectives on political agency. The essay is political without politicizing the content, analysing the images as part of a whole, and inductively drawing out their meaning. The committee was particularly struck by the way you thought of the role of the selfies as a form of political agency that is different from that enacted in mass in-person mobilization, and the way you connected this discussion of aesthetics to social movement theory. Especially in terms of this linkage, this work contributes to the Silverstonian tradition of research that focuses on morality, politics, and the expressive potential of the media.

2012-13

Peter Wiegand - Best Overall MSc Performance Prize 

Peter demonstrated intellectual curiosity, compassion, and political engagement throughout the Master's. His scholarly reading, critical analysis, and reflexivity about processes and methods in development and communication are reflected in his impressive bouquet of distinctions and high distinctions. It was a joy to have Peter on the course.

Best Dissertation Prize 

Benjamin Leszcz 

Madeline Storck 

Giulia Previato

Yusi Xu

Yusi Xu - Silverstone Prize  

“A confident and well-written dissertation that presents a highly original analysis. Its critical insights offer a valuable contribution to the study of humanitarian communication.  It provides original empirical and analytical take offering a critical viewpoint into humanitarian narratives and ideological frames.  You have sensitively analysed how consumerism and individualism are symbolically represented within the communication of a humanitarian organization. Furthermore, the dissertation is activist in orientation and suggests how we might reposition ourselves with respect to our own voice and agency within humanitarian communication. It strongly represents the tradition of Silverstone’s work and is engaging, well-written, well-argued and inspiring.”

2011-12

Johannes Hillje - MSc Dissertation: Silverstone Prize

“This is an excellent dissertation. It is well-written and researched, very thoughtful and reflexive and applies content analysis in a theoretically useful way.”

Johannes Hillje - Best MSc Dissertation Prize

Saving Europe online? European identity and the European Union’s Facebook communication during the eurozone crisis - Supervisor Dr Damian Tambini writes:

“This is an excellent dissertation. It is well-written and researched, very thoughtful and reflexive and applies content analysis in a theoretically useful way.

Luane Sandrin Gauer - Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

Charlie Beckett, head of the Department, writes of Luane's achievement:

"You have demonstrated excellence by achieving such an array of high grades across the board. Your contribution to the Department as a student is inspiring, both for your teachers and your fellow students."

2010-11

Saskia Scheibel - MSc Dissertation: Silverstone Prize

Against All Odds - Supervisor Dr Ellen Helsper, writes, "This is an extremely well written dissertation which meets all academic criteria for a High Distinction. It was original, well argued, with theoretical as well as empirical contributions. Saskia uses a sophisticated approach to understanding what conscious consumerism means in a global/local market. Her juxtaposition of banal consumerism, cosmopolitanism and glocalisation in consumption is innovative and advances the field. This sophisticated theoretical approach was linked to numerous methodological challenges which were dealt with in a creative and rigorous way and the fieldwork and analysis were well executed, used sophisticated analysis. Another commendable point was the reflexivity on the strengths and weaknesses of the project. All in all a very commendable dissertation." 

Mark Holden - Best MSc Dissertation Prize

Life Without the Internet - Supervisor Dr Ellen Helsper writes, "This dissertation was very well written and strongly argued. The dissertation investigates digital inclusion and engagement with technologies using interviews is publishable and meets all academic criteria for a High Distinction. The theoretical conclusions drawn were strong and furthered debate in an area that has been undertheorised. The research project was challenging and the execution was methodologically and empirically rigorous. It was a pleasure to read this piece of work due to its critical theoretical and empirical richness."

Saskia Scheibel - Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

Supervisor Dr Ellen Helsper, writes, "You have demonstrated excellence by achieving a Distinction mark in every course. Your contribution to the Department as a student is inspiring, both for your teachers and your fellow students."

2009-10

Michelle Ruesch - MSc Dissertation: Silverstone Prize

'A Peaceful Net? Assessing the Internet's Prospects for Communicative Conflict Resolution and Intergroup Communication' is offered in the name of the late Professor Roger Silverstone, founder of the Department of Media & Communications for a piece of work in the field of the media and morality.

This is an outstanding piece of academic work, which meets all the conditions for a Distinction and in addition displays a number of further strengths. This dissertation is a highly original assessment of the internet as a platform for conflict resolution, focusing on a case study of communication between Israelis and Palestinians on Facebook. The empirical part sets out a rigorous and impressive methodology for sampling and analysing Facebook group communication, and assessing its impact within a theoretical framework that stresses the importance of such contact in resolving protracted group conflicts. As such it offers an empirical study highly relevant to the theoretical contributions made by the late Roger Silverstone. 

Olina Banerji - Best MSc Dissertation Prize

'The Altruistic Blockbuster and the Third-World Filmstar'. Over 200 dissertations were submitted in the academic year 2009-10 and with a grade of 85, yours was awarded the highest mark.

This dissertation is a sophisticated, extremely well argued and original piece of work and received the highest dissertation mark in the department. The work provides a discourse analysis of two prize winning documentaries which focus on humanitarian themes in India. The thesis offers a compelling and persuasive reading of the place and function of these films within broader global power structures. 

Michelle Ruesch - Best Overall MSc Performance Prize

Recipient of the first ever Department of Media & Communications Best MSc Achievement prize, Michelle attended the 1st Global Conference - Communication and Conflict, held in November 2011 in Prague, Czech Republic.  At the conference Michelle presented a paper entitled 'A Peaceful Net? An Analysis of Communicative Conflict Resolution of the Israel-Palestine-Conflict on Facebook '. The paper was well received by the conference delegates and stimulated considerable academic dialogue.

2008-09

Michael Spiess - Best MSc Dissertation Prize

This is an outstanding piece of academic work, which meets all the conditions for a Distinction and in addition displays a number of further strengths. These are: originality,in being the first study that engages with media in the Central African Republic, seeking to show how government intimidation impacts on the local journalistic culture and its watchdog function in the process of democratization; a sophisticated theoretical review, providing an unusual combination of journalism studies (‘watchdog’ perspectives) with Althusser’s theory on Repressive State Apparata; a rich research design based on interviews with an exceptionally broad range of key stakeholders (UN-supported Ndeke Luka radio journalists, civil society activists, politicians and UN specialists); novel and important findings that challenge and enhance the theoretical perspectives of the dissertation as well as put forward proposals that can make a difference in the context of neglected African journalism.

Corey Brooks Decillia - MSc Dissertation: Silverstone Prize

This is an excellent dissertation at all levels: theory, research design and analysis. It provides an eloquently-written case study of the reporting of the war in Afghanistan by Canadian mainstream media, analysing the ways in which media texts and journalists negotiate and may contest dominant frames by government and the military. In so doing, it provides an important critical discussion on journalistic routines and their flaws in the context of war and conflict reporting. Its central themes are journalistic impartiality and freedom of speech, which lie at the heart of debates on media and morality.