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The John Sunley Prize

A prize to celebrate excellence and impact of post graduate research into penal issues

Sunley Winners 2014

The Howard League for Penal Reform is seeking to reward and encourage Masters students who generate outstanding research dissertations that often are both topical and original; and can also offer genuine new insights into the penal system and further the cause of penal reform.

Each year thousands of exceptional Masters dissertations are researched and written but few are even lodged in university libraries or shared with the wider penal affairs community. Many will be of publishable standard and would contribute to the pool of knowledge about penal issues. The John Sunley Prize has been established to ensure that the best of these dissertations now get the recognition they deserve.

Sunley Prize 2017


There will be three recipients of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s John Sunley Prize, each of whom will receive £1,000.

Each of the winning dissertations will be published on the Howard League’s website. We will ask prize winners to write a short article based on the dissertation for publication in the Howard League ECAN bulletin.

Process and time frame

The prize will be judged by a panel (the Competition Panel) made up of representatives from the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Research Advisory Group. The Competition Panel will assess the quality, originality and the potential to add to the pool of knowledge about penal issues and further the cause of penal reform.


Entries must be submitted by completing Sunley Application Form. All entries must be supported by two university authorities (from a university email account) to (i) confirm your attendance on the course (e.g. head of course/department) and (ii) focus on the work undertaken for the dissertation (e.g. dissertation supervisor).

The deadline for 2017 entries is 24 July 2017. See the application form for details of the application process and documents required.

Due to the expected volume of interest in this competition entries will be shortlisted prior to the final decisions being made by the competition panel.

The three winners will be expected to attend the award giving event and provide a high-resolution digital photograph of themselves for publicity purposes.


November 2016
Call opens – applicants receive confirmation once application is received

24 July 2017
Call closes

August 2017
Short listing results – those to be considered by the Competition Panel will be informed

September/October 2017
Competition Panel deliberates – winners informed

November 2017
Award ceremony at the Howard League AGM.

The Competition Panel reserves the right not to make the award in the event that the standard of submissions is not deemed sufficient.

See the all the past winners


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