The best PhD thesis and dissertations in history

Get ready for a thrilling ride as we explore the world of PhD theses and dissertations!

We’ll uncover the secrets behind assessing these masterpieces, check out some of the most famous theses that changed history, and share some juicy insider tips on how to create an amazing PhD thesis. 

So, buckle up and let’s dive into the captivating universe of academic research that has shaped the way we see the world!

What criteria are used to assess a PhD thesis?

As a PhD researcher who has been involved in the academic world, I’ve witnessed firsthand the criteria used to assess the best PhD theses. Here, I’ll share insider details on how examiners determine which dissertations are deserving of awards and recognition.

One of the primary factors in assessing a PhD thesis is the originality and significance of the research. For example, the 2023 dissertation award, the winning thesis was in the field of astrophysics.

The candidate, under the supervision of a renowned faculty member, developed a groundbreaking framework for understanding astronomical phenomena. This kind of novel research often catches the attention of examiners, who are looking for theses that have the potential to make a significant impact in their respective fields.

Quality of writing is another crucial aspect when assessing a PhD thesis.

A well-received thesis is typically clear, concise, and well-organized. In my time covering theses in history and mathematics, I’ve noticed that the best dissertations have a coherent narrative that makes their content accessible to both specialists and non-experts. This is true for theoretical works like John Nash’s foundational research in game theory, as well as applied research like the work of physicist Richard Feynman.

The defence of the thesis plays a significant role in the evaluation process.

I’ve witnessed how candidates successfully address questions from a panel of examiners, demonstrating a deep understanding of the subject matter and its implications.

A thesis’s potential for publication or real-world application is often considered.

Some of the most memorable theses I’ve encountered, like Albert Einstein’s work on Brownian motion or Claude Shannon’s development of information theory, have had far-reaching implications for their respective fields and beyond.

Criteria used to assess a PhD thesis include originality and significance, quality of writing, defence performance, and potential for publication or real-world application. These factors together contribute to identifying the best PhD theses that stand out among the rest.

Best Famous PhD Theses in History

Isaac Newton1687Focused on laws of motion and universal gravitation, pioneering the field of classical mechanics.
Immanuel Kant1781Explored the nature of human knowledge, combining empirical and rational approaches to understanding the world.
Karl Marx1841Critiqued the philosophical theories of Democritus and Epicurus, leading to theories on historical materialism.
Charles Darwin1859Examined the evolution of species through natural selection, fundamentally changing the scientific understanding of biology.
Sigmund Freud1884Investigated the potential medicinal uses of cocaine, influencing thoughts on psychiatry and psychoanalysis.
Marie Curie1903Explored the properties of radioactive elements, leading to the discovery of polonium and radium.
Albert Einstein1905Derived a molecular size equation, leading to the development of the atomic theory of matter.
Max Planck1900Introduced the concept of energy quantization and laid the foundation for quantum physics.
Niels Bohr1913Provided the basis for the quantum mechanical model of the atom, significantly impacting the field of physics.
James Watson & Francis Crick1953Uncovered the structure of DNA, revealing the double helix and laying the foundation for modern molecular biology.
John Nash1950Introduced the concept of the “Nash equilibrium,” revolutionizing the field of game theory and economic analysis.
Martin Luther King Jr.1955Examined the theological philosophies of Tillich and Wieman, fostering ideas on nonviolent resistance.
Rosalind Franklin1956Provided insights into the three-dimensional structure of antibodies and their interaction with antigens.
Jane Goodall1965Revolutionized the understanding of primate behavior and broke barriers in the fields of ethology and primatology.
Stephen Hawking1966Investigated the Big Bang Theory and Black Holes, providing critical insights into cosmology.
Alan Turing1936Laid the foundation of computer science and computational theory, introducing the concept of the Turing machine.
Friedrich Hayek1935Challenged prevailing economic theories, focusing on the importance of spontaneous order in market systems.
George Akerlof1970Pioneered analysis of asymmetric information in markets and its impact on product quality.
Larry Page & Sergey Brin1998Introduced the PageRank algorithm, laying the foundation for the development of Google.
Vargo & Lusch2004Focused on service-dominant logic, examining market formation and value co-creation.
Simone de Beauvoir1949Explored feminist philosophy and the role of women in society, inspiring numerous debates and movements for gender equality.
Erwin Schrödinger1926Developed the wave function equation, fundamentally changing scientists’ understanding of quantum mechanics.

These theses represent a small sample of the many influential works in history. They have shaped our understanding of various fields and left lasting impacts on scientific and societal progress.

How to write the best PhD thesis possible

As a PhD candidate who has gone through the ups and downs of crafting the perfect thesis, I’ve learned a thing or two about making it the best it can be.

I’m here to share with you some insider tips and juicy details that I’ve discovered on my journey to create an award-winning PhD thesis. 

Key takeaways

  1. Develop a clear understanding of the literature in your field.
  2. Ensure the logic in your thesis is flawless.
  3. Discuss your work with colleagues for feedback and insights.
  4. Focus on clear writing and organization in your thesis.
  5. Use formatting tools like bullet points and breakout boxes to highlight key points.
  6. Proofread your work and consider using tools like Grammarly or hiring a professional proofreader.
  7. Pay attention to first impressions and follow university printing guidelines for a professional-looking document.
  8. Keep in mind the importance of small details for winning prizes or earning recognition.

First and foremost, it’s essential to have a clear and concise understanding of the literature in your field. This sets the stage for your dissertation, allowing you to identify gaps and new ideas that your research will address. One critical component is ensuring that the logic in your thesis is flawless. I’ve found that discussing your work with colleagues both inside and outside your field can help you identify any leaps of faith or logical gaps that need to be addressed.

Now, let’s talk about the presentation. I cannot stress enough the importance of clear writing and organization in a PhD thesis.

In my own work, I’ve used formatting tools like bullet points and breakout boxes to highlight key points and make the text easier to follow.

This not only helped me communicate my ideas effectively but also impressed the examiners who reviewed my work.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of proofreading and avoiding grammatical errors.

In my experience, using tools like Grammarly or even hiring a professional proofreader can elevate your dissertation to new heights. These seemingly small details can make all the difference when it comes to winning a prize or earning recognition for your work.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of first impressions. When I submitted my thesis in 2021, I made sure it met my university’s printing guidelines, resulting in a substantial and professional-looking document. This attention to detail can set the stage for a successful PhD thesis that leaves a lasting impact on the world of science.

Wrapping up

And there you have it, folks! We’ve taken a wild ride through the world of PhD theses and dissertations, exploring the assessment criteria, admiring some of the most famous theses in history, and even sharing some insider tips to help you create the best PhD thesis possible.

These incredible works of research have shaped our understanding of the world and inspired countless innovations, discoveries, and breakthroughs.

Whether you’re an aspiring PhD candidate or just a curious soul, we hope this blog has given you a glimpse into the fascinating realm of academic research.

Remember, the journey to creating an exceptional PhD thesis is challenging but rewarding, and the impact of your work could be felt for generations to come. So, keep your eyes on the prize, and who knows – maybe one day, your own thesis will be featured on a list like this!

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.