Alexander Prize

A Young Man Presenting his Thesis to Cardinal Aldobrandini, 1620 (detail), Oliviero Gatti, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain


The Alexander Prize is awarded for an essay or article based on original historical research, by a doctoral candidate or those recently awarded their doctorate, published in a journal or an edited collection of essays.

The Prize was endowed in 1897 by L.C. Alexander, Secretary of the Society at its foundation in 1868 and a Life Member from 1870. The original endowment offered ‘to provide yearly a Gold Medal to be called The Alexander Medal’. The gold medal was later changed to a silver medal and now the successful candidate is awarded a prize of £250.

Winners are invited to submit another paper to the Editors of the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society within nine months of the award, with a view to publication in the Society’s journal.

Submissions for the 2022 Alexander Prize are now open. Please apply via the RHS Prize Applications portal, selecting the prize for which you wish to enter during the application process. The closing date for the Alexander Prize is: 31 December 2021.


How to enter the Alexander Prize

  • Candidates must be doctoral students in a historical subject in a UK institution, or be within two years of having a submitted a corrected thesis in a historical subject in a UK institution at the time of the closing date for entries.
  • An electronic copy of the publisher’s version the article or essay will need to be uploaded to the entry form.
  • The article or essay must have been published in a journal or edited collection during the calendar year 2021 (for the 2022 prize round). Advanced access publisher versions are also eligible, but an item cannot be entered more than once in subsequent years
  • An electronic copy of the publisher’s version the article or essay will need to be uploaded to the entry form.

Timetable for submissions

  • Submissions for the 2022 Prize open: 1 September 2021. All submissions are via the RHS Prize Applications Portal.
  • Closing date for entries for the 2022 Prize: 31 December 2021.

All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the RHS. Please contact the Membership and Administration Officer at:


Winner of the 2021 Alexander Prize

Matthew Birchall was named winner of the 2021 Alexander Prize for an article,  ‘History, Sovereignty, Capital: Company Colonisation in South Australia and New Zealand’, Journal of Global History, 16 (2021).

Judges’ citation:
The panel members agreed that this was an exceptionally thoughtful paper, beautifully written and critically incisive. Not only does virtual show us that private enterprise and capital investment shaped British settlement and immigration to South Australia and New Zealand during the 1830s, but he also shows that associated colonial initiatives in North America had set important precedents that legitimised these capital-driven projects.

We admired its ambition and scope and noted that as a scholarly exercise in lateral thinking and critical research this article is an exceptionally strong contribution.


Runners Up, 2021


A list of all the past Alexander Prize winners is available here.