Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

New and modern prize essay to honour academia

The old gold medal essays are past their expiry date and Health is now introducing a new, modern Health prize essay – the Student Research Prize – for students who present something extraordinary.

2018.12.13 | Nanna Jespersgård

The gold medal essay had meaning in an analogue past, where searching for literature was time consuming and difficult, while today most people carry out research as a team, and this ought to be recognised by the prize. Photo: AU.

A medal of pure gold engraved with the university's seal and "Solidum petit in profundis" sounds a like something from a bygone era; which would not be a completely wrong assumption.

Today, it is so rare for researchers at Health to write the traditional gold medal essays that the Academic Council has devised a new and more modern replacement called the Health Student Research Prize. This has now been discussed and approved by the Dean's Office and Health’s Forum for Education. The prize will be awarded for the first time at the PhD Day in January 2020.

"The big difference will be that Health's researchers will in future recommend the students, whereas previously it was the researchers themselves who initiated gold medal essays,” says Helle Prætorius Øhrwald, who is chair of the Academic Council.

"We also wish to expand the range of essays so that it will in future be possible to honour a student who has e.g. produced an excellent Bachelor's project," she says.

Who can qualify and how?

In addition to the Bachelor’s project, the prize may be awarded for particularly good Master’s thesis, assignments from the talent track, or to students who have carried out research and published as co-authors in their spare time, i.e. outside the formalised degree programme. Research year students and Master's PhD students who are still enrolled in the Master's degree programme can also be considered.

The idea is that there should be an annual Student Research Prize per department at Health, although the small Department of Forensic Medicine will be pooled with the Department of Clinical Medicine. The four awards naturally presuppose that there are worthy candidates; whether this is the case will be decided by an assessment committee that is itself a sub-committee of the Academic Council.

All researchers who qualify as principal supervisors of student assignments can recommend their students for the prize. Students will be assessed according to:

  • Originality in the approach to the topic
  • Insight and overview of the original literature
  • Ability to advance original testable hypotheses and/or ask relevant scientific questions
  • Ability to formulate themselves at a high academic level
  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • The work representing a substantial, outstanding performance.

The idea arose last year

The seeds for the new prize were sown in December last year during a discussion by the Academic Council of the legitimacy of the faculty's traditional prize essays, i.e. the type of assignments that are honoured with a gold medal or the assessment “accessit”, as described on the university website Does your essay meet the gold standard? (In Danish).

"We agreed that it must be possible to honour the university tradition in a way that is more suited to how students and research groups work. The gold medal essay had meaning in an analogue past, where searching for literature was time consuming and difficult, while today most people carry out research as a team, and this ought to be recognised by the prize," says Helle Prætorius Øhrwald.

Details of the Health Student Research prize together with the relevant deadlines will be published and made available to both supervisors and students in the course of the coming year.


Professor Helle Prætorius Øhrwald
Chair of Academic Council
Tel.: (+45) 8716 7712
Mobile: (+45) 3155 8810
Email: hp@biomed.au.dk

Adviser Lene Bøgh Sørensen
Dean’s Secretariat, Health
Tel.: (+45) 2033 8579
Email: lbs@au.dk

Research, Health and disease, Academic staff, Department of Biomedicine, Health, Talent development, Technical / administrative staff, Department of Public Health, Department of Clinical Medicine, IOOS