Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis

The Chancellor's Prize is a prestigious prize, awarded annually, recognising the University's high-achieving graduate researchers. It is the only University-wide award for outstanding PhD theses.


Prize Winners

  • Dr Cait Storr (2018)

    Title - Nauru: International Status, Imperial Form, and the Histories of International Law

    Supervisors - Professor Sundhya Pahuja and Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh

    Year - 2018

    Dr Cait Storr
    Dr Cait Storr

    Melbourne Law School graduate Dr Cait Storr won the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2018 in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category for her thesis Nauru: International Status, Imperial Form, and the Histories of International Law.

    Under the supervision of Professor Sundhya Pahuja and Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh, Dr Storr conducted a wide-ranging and innovative study that engages with the history and theory of international law. Her thesis is beautifully realised, functioning both as an original narrative history of the changing international status of Nauru from the early 1880s to the late 1960s, and as an unorthodox history of international law, told from the apparent margins of the international order.

    Dr Storr’s growing international reputation for outstanding interdisciplinary research is evidenced, in particular, by the fact that she was appointed as the inaugural Research Fellow with the Institute of International Law and the Humanities at Melbourne Law School in 2016, and, in 2017, was invited to join the Harvard Institute of Global Law and Policy as a junior faculty member. As evidenced below, she has also received invitations to present aspects of her work in many different parts of the world. Dr Storr is a Lecturer in English Property Law, School of Law, University of Glasgow.

    The Chancellor's Prize is the only University-wide award for a PhD thesis, as detailed here. The awards are clustered into three faculty groupings: Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences; Science and Engineering; and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Six PhD graduates have been awarded this distinguished prize: two in each faculty grouping who successfully completed the PhD in 2017.

    This is the eighth consecutive year in which a Melbourne Law School graduate has won the Chancellor’s Prize.

  • Dr Julia Dehm (2017)

    Title - Reconsidering REDD+: Law, life, limits and growth in crisis

    Supervisors - Associate Professour Maureen Tehan, Professor Lee Godden and Associate Professor Margaret Young

    Year - 2017

    Dr Julia Dehm
    Dr Julia Dehm

    Melbourne Law School graduate Dr Julia Dehm won the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2017 in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category for her thesis Reconsidering REDD+: Law, life, limits and growth in crisis.

    Under the supervision of Associate Professor Maureen Tehan, Professor Lee Godden and Associate Professor Margaret Young, Dr Dehm conducted a wide-ranging and innovative study that engages with current international attempts to 'reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation' (REDD) through climate change policies. Her research addressed detailed and dynamic laws while maintaining a critical and open perspective about the impacts of such laws on marginalised communities. In addition to theoretical critique, she engaged empirically with her subject matter, spending time in Indonesia with communities affected by climate mitigation strategies, and developing strong links with civil society.

    Dr Dehm has established an international reputation due to the outstanding quality of her doctoral work, as evidenced by her appointment as a Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at the Harvard Law School during her PhD studies at Melbourne Law School, and her subsequent selection in an internationally competitive field for a two year post-doctoral residential fellowship at the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at UT Austin, USA. Following the success of her post-doctorate position at UT Austin, Dr Dehm accepted a position as Lecturer at La Trobe University Law School where she commenced in July 2017.

    The Chancellor's Prize is the only University-wide award for a PhD thesis, as detailed here. The awards are clustered into three faculty groupings: Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences; Science and Engineering; and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Six PhD graduates have been awarded this distinguished prize: two in each faculty grouping of the 738 candidates who successfully completed the PhD in 2016.

    This is the seventh consecutive year in which a Melbourne Law School graduate has won the Chancellor’s Prize.

  • Dr Stewart Fenwick (2016)

    Title - Is Rawlsian liberalism compatible with Islam? A case study of post-Soeharto Indonesia

    Supervisors - Professor Tim Lindsey, Professor Carolyn Evans and Professor Abdullah Saeed

    Year - 2016

    Dr Stewart Fenwick
    Dr Stewart Fenwick

    Melbourne Law School graduate Dr Stewart Fenwick won the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2016 in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category for his thesis Is Rawlsian liberalism compatible with Islam? A case study of post-Soeharto Indonesia.

    Under the supervision of Professor Tim Lindsey, Professor Carolyn Evans and Professor Abdullah Saeed, Dr Fenwick wrote a meticulous and very high standard thesis that is based on extensive and extremely difficult fieldwork conducted in Indonesia, in a second language, on blasphemy, a topic of very high social and political sensitivity in that country. Dr Fenwick’s PhD thesis is a remarkable achievement. Relying on his exceptional linguistic, cross-cultural and investigative skills, Dr Fenwick won the confidence of police, lawyers, defendants and religious leaders involved in high-profile blasphemy cases in Indonesia, obtaining data and insights never previously available to Anglophone scholars. As an exercise in empirical social science research of the most challenging kind the thesis is exemplary.

    Dr Fenwick’s research has had, and continues to have, a considerable impact both within and beyond academic circles. In 2015, following the successful completion and examination of his PhD thesis, Dr Fenwick accepted a position as Honorary Professor in the newly established Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at Australian Catholic University, in recognition of his research and publishing record, including, in particular, his thesis. Dr Fenwick has also been appointed an Associate of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society in the Melbourne Law School. He has participated actively in the work of this Centre, despite his current employment as a senior executive in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

    The Chancellor's Prize is the only University-wide award for a PhD thesis, as detailed here. The awards are clustered into three faculty groupings: Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences; Science and Engineering; and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Six PhD graduates have been awarded this distinguished prize: two in each faculty grouping of the 621 candidates who successfully completed the PhD in 2015.

    This is the sixth consecutive year in which a Melbourne Law School graduate has won the Chancellor’s Prize.

  • Dr Wendy Ng (2015)

    Title - The Political Economy of China's Anti-Monopoly Law

    Supervisors - Professor Caron Beaton-Wells and Professor Sean Cooney

    Year - 2015

    Dr Wendy Ng Profile Picture
    Dr Wendy Ng

    Melbourne Law School graduate Dr Wendy Ng won the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2015 in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category for her thesis The Political Economy of China's Anti-Monopoly Law.

    Under the supervision of Professor Caron Beaton-Wells and Professor Sean Cooney, Dr Ng wrote an outstanding thesis that draws on the fields of competition law and Chinese law from a political economy perspective. Dr Ng's theoretical framework for investigating China's Anti-Monopoly Law is a clear advance on previous studies in the area. Building on the work of eminent comparative law scholars, Dr Ng was able to construct an analysis that located the text and operation of the law within a wider political and economic context. This enabled her thesis to reveal how the contrasting interests and objectives of influential stakeholder and legal actors shaped both the drafting and implementation of her reform. Her findings were informed and enriched by extensive primary documentary research and a series of stakeholder interviews, facilitated by Dr Ng's Mandarin skills, which she honed specifically for this purpose, and by the sensitivity of her approach to recruiting prospective interviewees.

    Dr Ng's research has had, and continues to have, a considerable impact both within and beyond academic circles. Dr Ng has established an international reputation due to the outstanding quality of her doctoral work, as evidenced by the invitations she has received to present her research at conferences and to co-author papers. She is now a Lecturer in Law at The University of Adelaide, a consultant for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on issues relating to competition law and development, and an editor of the China Competition Bulletin, a leading bimonthly publication on the latest developments in Chinese competition law and policy.

    Dr Ng is one of only six PhD graduates (two in each faculty grouping) who were awarded this distinguished prize from the 579 candidates who successfully completed the PhD in 2014.

  • Dr Luis Eslava (2014)

    Title - Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development

    Supervisors - Professor Anne Orford and Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh

    Year - 2014

    Dr Luis Eslava Profile Picture
    Dr Luis Eslava

    Melbourne Law School graduate Dr Luis Eslava won the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2014 in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category for his thesis Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development.

    Under the supervision of Professor Anne Orford and Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh, Dr Eslava wrote an outstanding thesis drawing on the fields of international law and development, urban planning, and social and political theory to develop illuminating analyses of the current focus of international institutions including the United Nations and the World Bank upon transforming cities such as Bogotá into development success stories. His groundbreaking research will help scholars who are struggling to understand the changing relationship of international law and development projects to the nation-state. His analysis will also offer to policymakers, local administrations and public utility providers a better understanding of the human and political effects of the current international attention being paid to cities, and the larger interconnections that exist between local and international transformations.

    Dr Eslava has established an international reputation due to the outstanding quality of his doctoral work, as evidenced by the numerous invitations he has received to present his research at many of the centres of excellence in international law worldwide, and the various publications arising from his thesis, including a forthcoming monograph being published by Cambridge University Press. He is now Lecturer at Kent Law School.

    Of the 591 candidates who successfully completed the PhD in 2013, Dr Eslava is one of only six PhD graduates (two in each faculty grouping) who were awarded this distinguished prize.

  • Dr Emily Hudson (2013)

    Title - Copyright Exceptions: The Experiences of Cultural Institutions in the United States, Canada and Australia

    Supervisors - Professor Andrew Kenyon and Associate Professor David Brennan

    Year - 2013

    Dr Emily Hudson Profile Picture
    Dr Emily Hudson

    Melbourne Law School congratulates one of our doctoral students, Dr Emily Hudson, who has been selected as one of the winners of the 2013 Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis. Dr Hudson has been rewarded for her outstanding thesis, which is of high significance for copyright law and its reform.

    Dr Hudson's PhD thesis, Copyright Exceptions: The Experiences of Cultural Institutions in the United States, Canada and Australia draws on theoretical, comparative and empirical research methods to examine the practical operation of copyright exceptions in Australia, Canada and the United States for libraries, archives and museums in their dealings with copyright material. The thesis has made a lasting and significant contribution to the field of copyright law and practice with relevance to both law reform and academic debate. The quality of her associated publications, presentations and professional roles reflects the international esteem in which Dr Hudson is rightly held based on her research in this field. Her research has made, and continues to make, a considerable impact both within and beyond academic circles.

    Dr Hudson was supervised by Professor Andrew Kenyon and Associate Professor David Brennan.

    In 2013, Dr Hudson was on of six PhD candidates awarded this distinguished prize of the 568 doctoral students who successfully completed the PhD in 2012.

  • Dr Takele Bulto (2012)

    Title - Rights, Wrongs and the River Between: Extraterritorial Application of the Human Right to Water in Africa

    Supervisors - Professor Carolyn Evans and Associate Professor Jacqueline Peel

    Year - 2012

    Dr Takele Bulto Profile Picture
    Dr Takele Bulto

    Melbourne Law School congratulates one of our doctoral students, Dr Takele Bulto, who won the Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category.

    Dr Bulto's PhD thesis, Rights, Wrongs and the River Between: Extraterritorial Application of the Human Right to Water in Africa makes a significant contribution to thinking about the difficult problem of water-sharing and access to water between States. He brings together international environmental law and human rights law in an innovative way to examine the legal obligations States owe to other States with which they share water (particularly rivers). This analysis is critical for countries in regions such as Africa where vital human water needs cannot be met solely from domestic water sources. His research has made, and continues to make, an impact in an area of international growing importance and Dr Bulto has a contract with Cambridge University Press (CUP), UK, to publish a book based on his thesis.

    "I am thrilled to have won the prestigious Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in a PhD Thesis. To have written my PhD thesis on two subjects dear to my heart – the human right to water and Africa – at Melbourne Law School was already big enough for me; to win this Award as a result is just the icing on the cake. This is one of the happiest days of my life" said Dr Bulto. "I was extremely fortunate to have benefitted from the relentless guidance, advice, and support of my PhD Thesis supervisors, Professors Carolyn Evans and Associate Professor Jacqueline Peel, for which I am ever grateful. This award is testimony to their great mentorship and access to a wealth of research facilities that I enjoyed at the Law School."

    Dr Bulto was supervised by Professor Carolyn Evans and Associate Professor Jacqueline Peel.

    In 2012, Dr Bulto was one of six PhD candidates awarded this distinguished prize of the 584 doctoral students who successfully completed PhD in 2011. The award consists of an engraved medal for desk display.

  • Dr Jothie Saunthararajah (2011)

    Title - Legislating Illiberalism: Law, Discourse & Legitimacy in Singapore

    Supervisors - Professor Pip Nicholson, Professor Abdullah Saeed and Professor Li-Ann Thio

    Year - 2011

    Dr Jothie Saunthararajah Profile Picture
    Dr Jothie Saunthararajah

    Melbourne Law School congratulates one of our doctoral students, Dr Jothie Saunthararajah, who won the Chancellor's Prize in the Humanities, Creative Arts and Social Sciences category.

    Dr Jothie Saunthararajah's PhD thesis, Legislating Illiberalism: Law, Discourse & Legitimacy in Singapore, analysed a wide range of Singaporean statutes in order to show how law and a narrative of territorial and economic vulnerability has muted critique and augmented state power while strategically sustaining state legitimacy. She presented a template for such 'illberal legitimacy', warning that this new legality risks becoming entrenched in Singapore and adopted by other states.

    Dr Saunthararajah was supervised by Professor Pip Nicholson, Professor Abdullah Saeed and Professor Li-Ann Thio.

    The Melbourne School of Graduate Research annually seeks nominations from the Deans of Faculties.

    In 2011, six PhD candidates were awarded this distinguished prize of the 541 doctoral students who successfully completed the PhD in 2010. The award consists of an engraved medal for desk display.

  • Dr Simon Butt (2008)

    Title - Judicial Review in Indonesia: Between Civil Law and Accountability? A Study of Constitutional Court Decisions 2003 - 2005

    Supervisors - Professor Tim Lindsey

    Year - 2008