Maritime history, tall historic ship on the sea

Two history students from the University of Plymouth have won a prestigious national prize for their dissertations.

Amy Stokes and Corey Watson were awarded prizes for Undergraduate Achievement in Maritime History, awarded by the British Commission for Maritime History. 

Presented to a handful of students nationwide each year, the award encourages history students to pursue maritime questions in their final year research, from shipping, seafaring and exploration, to fishing and coastal communities. 

The achievement marks the fifth consecutive year of success for Plymouth students, with Oliver Moore, Adrian Full, Lee-Jane Giles, and Leah Mason winning in the last four years respectively. 

Amy’s dissertation was entitled ‘Minds Lost at Sea: a Study of Mental Illness at Haslar Naval Asylum, 1832-35’ – shedding light on the relatively unexplored subject of mental health and the Royal Navy. 

Corey’s dissertation was entitled ‘Life on the ‘Coffin Squadron’: A Study of the HMS Sybille and the HMS Black Joke of the Royal Navy’s Slavery Suppression Squadron, 1827-30’. In it Corey examines the activities and day-to-day life on board a Royal Navy ship assigned to suppressing slavery.

Dr Elaine Murphy, Associate Professor of Maritime and Naval History, said: 

“Plymouth as a city has a great marine and maritime heritage, so for our University students to be recognised for their work on maritime history is fantastic. Numerous entries are submitted each year, so being selected for the prize for five years in a row is a real achievement. A dissertation should be one of a student’s most enjoyable projects, given the subject is often chosen by the individual and explored in depth, and it’s clear that both Amy and Corey immersed themselves in their chosen subjects.” 

History student Amy Stokes prize for Undergraduate Achievement in Maritime History, awarded by the British Commission for Maritime History.

Amy said: 

“I am so fortunate that my dissertation has been awarded the British Commission for Maritime History Undergraduate prize for 2020. My dissertation investigated 84 sailors admitted to the Asylum ward of Haslar Naval Hospital, Gosport, between the years of 1832-35. Ultimately, my study found that mental health was recognised by the Royal Navy, and rather than sending their men to other civilian asylums across the country, the Admiralty wanted their men to receive the best care and the way to ensure this was having an asylum under their control.”

Corey said: 

“I am absolutely thrilled to have won this prize, as getting recognition for something I worked so hard on is an amazing feeling. I would also like to thank my supervisor Dr Elaine Murphy whose support and expertise were invaluable throughout the project. Congratulations to my fellow student Amy for winning the prize too, I think that two Plymouth students winning the award shows how fantastic the history staff at the University are. I am currently studying for an MA in History at Plymouth and am currently investigating a number of postgraduate opportunities. I would love to potentially carry on studying into a PhD or find work in heritage.”

History student Corey Watson wins prize for Undergraduate Achievement in Maritime History, awarded by the British Commission for Maritime History.
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