NOW OPEN: 2019 GCYFRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize  

Two prizes, part sponsored by Routledge, Taylor and Francis, are available for innovative and high quality undergraduate dissertations on any issue related to the geographies of children, youth and families
(first prize: £100 and a year’s subscription to Children’s Geographies; second prize: £50 and a year’s subscription to Children’s Geographies).

The dissertations should be approximately 10,000 words in length. Please send the following via email or link (i.e. Dropbox):
1) a PDF file of the dissertation
2) a (post- September) email address for the student.
3.) a copy of the appropriate departmental dissertation regulations
Open to any UK geography department; please note a department may not submit more than one entry.

Entries to be sent to: (Dr Joseph Hall)

Deadline: 31 July 2019


An interview with the joint 2018 GCYFRG Dissertation Prize winner, Charlotte Johnson.

Dissertation title: Child-friendly Coffee Shops: a `Space of Wellbeing’ for Mothers with Young Children (University of Durham)

Interview at a glance…

Q: What inspired you to choose your dissertation topic and how did you narrow down your focus? 

Initially, I was quite overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a 10,000-word dissertation. My dissertation supervisor advised me to pick something that I was already interested in and this made me reflect on what I spent my time doing and how I could link this to something I had studied in my degree. I noticed that the coffee shop I worked in attracted a lot of mothers alongside their young children, and it was this communal aspect that sparked my curiosity. After conducting further online research, I discovered that there were several other coffee shops that considered themselves ‘child-friendly’ in the surrounding area. I realised that these spaces had yet to be examined by geographers, so I decided to focus my research on them. My dissertation turned into a comparative study of two different coffee shops in areas with very different demographics, with a particular focus on who spent time in these shops and why they chose to.

Q: How did you find the dissertation experience? What were the highs and lows (challenges and rewards)?   

At times I found the experience to be rather stressful, I think everyone panics at some point and thinks – what have I gotten myself into? Why did I decide to write about this? But on reflection it was the most rewarding part of my degree. It was the first time I was able to write about whatever I wanted, this alone was a great learning experience as it made me start thinking about what I was genuinely interested in and how what I had learnt in theory could be applied to the world around me. Interviewing was one of my favourite parts of the whole dissertation process as I gained insight into various women’s lives which was fascinating. I found myself writing about topics that I would never have considered to be geographical, but upon reflection I realised were all relevant to my findings and could be linked back to the geographical theories I discussed.

Q: What advice would you give other undergraduate students undertaking a (GCYFRG-related) dissertation?   

I would advise other students to read several different dissertations before they begin to write their own. Alongside this, I would urge them to read around their topic, understanding the research that has already been done on your chosen area of study however tenuously linked, is always beneficial as it allows you to work out where your own work fits in with previous research and also highlights the value of the research you are undertaking.

In terms of specific GCYFRG tips, I would say that my experience interviewing mothers with young children presented different challenges to other interviews I had conducted. I found that it was particularly important to be aware of the mothers needs in the interview, and if she needed to take a break to look after her child then regardless of what we were discussing it was best to encourage her to help her child in whatever way she desired. My main piece of advice would therefore be to always remain open and considerate when interviewing people.

If you want to read the full interview please continue to the full interview


Previous winners include:


1st prize: Charlotte Johnson `Child-friendly Coffee Shops: a `Space of Wellbeing’ for Mothers with Young Children’ (University of Durham)

2nd Prize: Emma Barnstable ‘Facing Uncertainty in a Global 100 Institution? Exploring students’ negotiation of the transition beyond Higher Education’ (University of Exeter)


1st prize: Alexandra Hayes ‘I don’t like doing the things that girls do.  I like doing the things that boys do: The characterisation of tomboyism and the construction of gendered geographies of adventure within children’s literature’ (University of Sheffield).

2nd Prize: Lucie Hughes ‘Disrupting the Silence: Exploring how young people experience domestic abuse in their everyday lives’ (Durham University).


1st prize: Moa Eriksson ‘A feminist poststructuralist analysis of how gender is constructed in a nursery context in Brighton‘ (University of Brighton).

2nd Prize: Louise Williams ‘Childhood in Crisis? Young people performing liminal P/politics at Forest School’ (University of Oxford).


1st prize:  Lucy Long, ‘Sex, secrecy and stigma: Negotiating youth in a context of HIV/AIDS’ (University of Oxford)

2nd Prize:  Rosanna Betts, ‘Dreams of a Bright Future; A case study exploring the future aspirations of street children in Kampala’ (Durham University)


1st prize: Emma Hutchings, University of St Andrew’s, ‘The Spectacle of Child Suffering: Save the Children and UNICEF,  Annual Reports 1970-2012’.

2nd Prize: Annie Robinson, University of Leeds, ‘Between Two Worlds? Conceptualising Families’ Experiences of the Liminal Space of The Visitors’ Centre at HMP Leeds’.


1st prize: Matthew Pink, Durham University, ‘Diasporic youth: investigating the performative construction of identity for Polish migrant youths in Consett, England’.

2nd Prize: Matthew Finn, University of Reading, ‘Youth and International Travel: Changing Perceptions and Everyday Practices’.


1st prize: April McCoig, Royal Holloway, University of London ‘‘I want to go to university and make lots of money. Then I can give some to Fairtrade and some to my family’: Children’s Perceptions of Fairtrade’.

2nd prize: Lucy Alliot, Durham University, ‘Liquid Life Paths and Elderly Chinese Migrants: Negotiating Identity in Relation to the Family’.


1st Prize: Sophie Wotton, Durham University, ‘Distant Others: Exploring the child’s perspective in a school partnership programme’

2nd Prize: Laura Dean, University of Oxford ‘Reach for the Stars? Exploring the future career aspirations of young women in Calgary, Canada’.


1st Prize: Amira Binte Abdul Rahim, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, ‘Relocating Madrasah Al-Maarif: Exploring senses of place, emotional geographies and the role of Facebook.’

2nd Prize: Jonathan Hunter, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading, ‘An investigation into the experiences of disabled and non-disabled students in relation to their social transitions throughout university’.


1st Prize: Bethan Siu Yin Thomas, School of Geography, University of Nottingham ‘Diaspora space: the changing nature of Woking Chinese School’.

2nd Prize: Deborah Puttick, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, University of Plymouth ‘Sacred Place on the Catholic World Youth Day Pilgrimage to Sydney 2008’.


1st Prize: Jessica Mayer, Department of Geography, Lancaster University “Have they gone bonkers? They’ve banned us playing conkers!”. The changing geographies of the primary school playground’

2nd Prize: Tom Rutherford, Department of Geography, UCL ‘Questioning the country childhood idyll: parenting and children’s safety in three Kentish villages’.