RHS Teaching Prizes

Following the success of the inaugural Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History, introduced to mark our 150th anniversary year, the Royal Historical Society decided to award two prizes annually for the teaching of History at Universities in the UK.

Each prize is an opportunity to recognise academic historians who are making a significant contribution to excellence in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching and supervision. They acknowledge that the continuing strength of history as a discipline depends on the enthusiasm, passion, and creativity of University teachers of History.

Submissions for the 2022 Teaching Prizes 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 Whitfield Prize is: 30 April 2022.


The Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History

The Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History is named in honour of the Society’s first female President, Professor Dame Janet (Jinty) Nelson FBA.

It rewards outstanding and sustained commitment to supervision, and in particular those who are inspiring the next generation of historians to excel through undergraduate or postgraduate teaching. Potential nominees might be those whose research mentoring has encouraged new networks and communities of scholars to excel, often beyond the nominees’ own institution.

The prize marks Jinty Nelson’s outstanding contribution to the field in nurturing and training new generations of historians through her own teaching, and her generous support of younger scholars.

One award of £1,000 will be made each year in July, usually to an individual historian.


The Royal Historical Society Innovation in Teaching Award

The Royal Historical Society Innovation in Teaching Award is focussed on excellence in teaching at either undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Potential applicants may, for example, be individuals or groups of scholars working in collaboration, whose teaching has opened up the use of research materials by undergraduate or postgraduate students, or who have fostered new and original approaches to the discipline. Their achievements might include inspirational teaching, or the exemplary development of new teaching methods, modules, or degrees. It might also include those whose teaching of Undergraduate or Masters-level Historians has expanded to include engagement outside the classroom or the University.

One award of £1,000 will be made each year in July, either to an individual or to a group of historians working in collaboration. A short account of the programme of work for which the award was conferred, agreed with the winner, will be posted on the Society’s website.


How to apply for both prizes

  • Applications should be for nominees who have made a significant contribution to excellence in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching and supervision in UK Universities.
  • Please provide a short account (750 to 1000 words) of the programme of work or pedagogic initiatives for which the award is to be conferred.
  • Applications must also be supported by a statement from someone who has knowledge of your teaching experience. Your referee may be resident in the same institution as the applicant, but this is not a requirement. The recommendation must testify to the quality of the applicant’s contributions to historical pedagogy.
  • Applicants must include evidence from others, which might take the form of peer review, student feedback, evidence of impact on students’ later development or some form of institutional recognition such as a teaching prize.

If you are unsure which prize to nominate someone for, bear in mind that the Nelson prize is more likely to be awarded to someone who has a long-established record of mentoring and supporting the next generation of professional historians.

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: 30 April 2022.


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


2021 Winners

Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching & Supervision in History

Dr Lucinda Matthews-Jones(Liverpool John Moores University) was awarded the 2021 Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching & Supervision in History.

Judges Citation:

Lucinda Matthews-Jones has introduced forms of learning and assessment which develop enquiry and communication skills in her undergraduate modules which the judges deemed to be both innovative and inspirational. Teaching sessions give students the opportunity to handle and interpret a broad range of archival materials and go on to develop their skills in Public History and heritage through the creation of exhibits, exhibitions and other creative ‘outputs’ such as songs, children’s books, podcasts, radio shows, documentaries, film, newspapers, blogs and so on.

Lucinda’s approach is based on careful research of a range of educational theories which have investigated the value of active learning and authentic assessment as vehicles for empowerment, inclusion and relevance to professional practice and lifelong learning. Her pedagogic model has been recognised by her own University with a prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s award; it has been adopted by other higher education institutions in the UK; and is also supporting best practice in Sixth-Form colleges. We commend her work for the excellence and enjoyment it is bringing to teaching, learning and assessment not only in history, but also in other disciplines.


Runner Up, 2021

Dr Nicholas Evans (University of Hull) was named runner-up for the 2021 Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching & Supervision in History. 

Judges citation:

Dr Nicholas Evans conceived and developed the ‘Hull History Network’ in 2019, to provide students with opportunities to enhance their employment prospects in a part of the country where there is a shortage of graduate jobs. In that time, even during lockdown, he has created links with local business, heritage and educational organisations; and through bespoke work placements, has given scores of students an opportunity to simultaneously deepen their knowledge of history and their understanding of the world of work. Nicholas’ work on this project is rooted in his deep commitment to giving students from all walks of life the ability to learn beyond the classroom.

His support is wide-ranging, from the writing of CVs and completing application forms, to team working and public engagement. It is no surprise that his work has already been recognised with several awards by his own students and colleagues. The panel of judges were in full agreement that his inspirational work was also worthy of recognition by the RHS.



Innovation in Teaching Award

Dr Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln) was awarded the 2021 Innovation In Teaching Award.

Judges’ citation:

Reading is a core activity for historians, yet we spend very little time teaching our students how to do this in a way which specifically develops their disciplinary expertise. However, Dr Jamie Wood, of the University of Lincoln has recognised the issues that some of his students particularly have in reading ‘difficult’ secondary texts and primary sources and taken innovative steps to address them. His strategic deployment of Talis Elevate software to devise an online environment which allows students to read, annotate, comment on, share and discuss texts in an online environment impressed all the judges.

In evaluating the impact of his work, Dr Wood has found that consistently high levels of student engagement have been accompanied by academic improvement. Moreover, the dissemination of his innovative practice has not only had an impact across his home institution, but also beyond and, notably, beyond our discipline.


Runner Up, 2021

Dr Charlotte Crouch and Mr Will Bailey-Watson (University of Reading) were named runners-up for the Innovation in Teaching Award 2021.

Judges’ citation:

History PhD students often have a very limited awareness of pedagogy when they begin teaching. Will Bailey-Watson and Charlotte Crouch, both from the University of Reading, carefully theorised, designed and implemented an innovative two-way developmental model of collaborative learning between PhD and Secondary Education PGCE students, to foster mutually beneficial approaches to what they call ‘critical curriculum thinking’.

Operating since 2018, and systematically evaluated and refined each year, their work with several student cohorts has caught the attention of universities, the OCR exam board and even (for all the right reasons!) Ofsted. We commend them for creating this innovative and effective community of practice.


A list of past winners of the Jinty Nelson and Innovation in Teaching Awards are available here.