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Philosophy student wins first prize in Leiden University Thesis Prizes

‘What is the best electoral system for a democracy? First prize in the Leiden University Thesis Prizes 2021 goes to someone who has added their own deftly argued vision to this socially relevant topic.’ These were the words of Annetje Ottow, president of the Executive Board and board member of the Leiden University Fund, at the online University Thesis Prizes ceremony on 3 March. The lucky winner, Suzanne Bloks, studied philosophy.

Suzanne Bloks

The candidates for the annual university thesis prizes – first, second and third prize – are nominated by their faculty. Winner of the first prize, Suzanne Bloks, was nominated by the Faculty of Humanities for her thesis that links philosophy to political science and covers the different forms of democratic representation. That resulted in an original argument for a proportional representation system – as in the Netherlands – as opposed to, say, a district system. This won Suzanne, now a PhD candidate at Universität Hamburg, prize money of 3,000 euros.

Timo Oosterveer

Second prize

Timo Oosterveer won the second prize of 2,000 euros. He completed the master’s programme in Technical Medicine, which is offered by LDE Universities, the alliance between the universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam, and their medical centres. Technical Medicine links science and technology with clinical practice and its professional medical procedures. Timo was nominated by the Faculty of Medicine. Ottow, whose portfolio on the Executive Board includes alumni, said: ‘Timo is an enthusiastic storyteller, transporting the reader to the future of imaging technology for the analysis of cardiovascular disease.’

Third prize

Third prize of 1,000 euros went to Sarah Deaney, who studied constitutional and administrative law at the Faculty of Law. She explored planning blight law, or how to limit loss resulting from government planning decisions. She had already won the faculty thesis prize. ‘Sarah’s thesis is well-written and the argument clearly structured,’ said Ottow. ‘She also comes with practical, practicable recommendations.’

Willem Nagtglas Versteeg (Minerva Class of 1957/1961/1965 Alumni Fund), Lilian Visscher (director LUF), Bernard Steunenberg (board member LUF), Annetje Ottow (president of the Executive Board) and the seven nominees
Sarah Deaney

A mark of 9 or higher

Ottow was keen to emphasise that there was no doubt that all the nominees were the crème de la crème of Leiden master’s students. ‘All the theses earned a mark of 9 or higher, and you nearly all graduated cum laude, summa cum laude even. Your theses are all of an excellent quality.’

This explains why the four students who did not make it to the top three received an honourable mention and a 250-euro book token. They were:

  • Iris van den Brink - Faculty Of Archaeology
  • Jorrit van Steijn - Public Sector Management, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs
  • Florian Thomas-Odenthal - Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
  • Pim Spelier - Mathematics, Faculty of Science

Ottow concluded by thanking the thesis supervisors for their role in pushing the students to such great heights.

The nominees (l-r): Iris van den Brink, Suzanne Bloks, Timo Overveer, Jorrit van Steijn, Sarah Deaney, Florian Thomas-Odenthal and Pim Spelier

The jury consisted seven members from the LUF Committee for Academic Expenditure and two Minerva members from the class of 1965: Professor Leonard Blussé van Oud Alblas and Professor Jos van Roosmalen. 

The Thesis Prizes are endowed by the Minerva Class of 1957/1961/1965 Alumni Fund. The University and the Leiden University Fund (LUF) are very grateful to the Minerva alumni for their donations to the fund.

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