Dissertation Award

The best PhD dissertation on a theme of Iranian Studies is chosen based on several criteria, including imagination, novelty of approach, clarity in stating the problematic, theoretical foundation, methodological rigor, efficient and intelligent use of primary source material, and quality of fieldwork, among others.

The Foundation may also recognize up to two runner-up dissertations with honorable mention and subject to budgetary considerations and the decision of an advisory board of readers, may also help towards the publication of outstanding dissertations.

Each year the award is granted to a dissertation approved during that academic year and announced in October/November of the year for which it is granted.

Dissertations must be nominated by the author's advisor and be accompanied by the Dissertation Committee's letter of acceptance. A digitized copy of the dissertation must be submitted by August 15 either on a disc to


Foundation for Iranian Studies

Suite 200, 4343 Montgomery Avenue

Bethesda, MD 20814


or emailed to

fis@fis-iran.org or


Notice of the awards appears in the MESA and SIS mail lists and journals, in various Persian language and other academic publications. It will also be posted on the FIS website.



The award for 2016 was conferred on Salimeh Maghsoudlou on November 20, 2016


The Foundation for Iranian Studies is pleased to announce that the Committee on Selection of the Best Dissertation of the Year on a Topic of Iranian Studies of the Foundation for Iranian Studies has chosen Salimeh Maghsoudlou’s dissertation “La pensée de 'Ayn al-Quḍāt al-Hamadānī (m. 525/1132), entre avicennisme et héritage ġazālien” submitted to Section des Science Religieuses, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, CNRS as the recipient of the Foundation's annual Ph.D. dissertation award for the academic year 2015-2016.


In making its decision, the Committee, following the criteria established by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, noted that Salimeh Maghsoudlou has made an "exceptional contribution to the field of Iranian and Islamic Studies” by, among other achievements, “stating clearly the study’s problematic… constructing an adequate and efficient theoretical framework…developing and using successfully a rigorous methodology to bring together a significant array of primary and secondary sources in several languages, including several hitherto unknown or unpublished sources, to support an innovative approach to a critical study of one of the most thought provoking but relatively understudied 12th century Iranian Islamic theoreticians … Critically analyzing the Avicennian and Ghazalian influence on `Ain al-Quḍat’s thinking … demonstrating a profound command of the theoretical foundations of a triad of philosophical, theological, and mystical concepts essential to the evolution of `Ain al-Quḍat’s comprehensive vision… meticulously structuring and successfully analyzing, and adapting the components of the triad to explicate patterns of composition and intersection of concepts of God, Cosmos, and Man in `Ain al-Quḍat’s exposition of Islamic theology… clear and judicious use of language and analysis … excellent organization of the work.”


The Committee also cited Fatemeh Shams-Esmaeili’s dissertation “Official Voices of a Revolution: A Social History of Islamic Republic’s Poetry,” submitted to the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, Jonathan Brack’s dissertation “Mediating Sacred Kingship: Conversion and Sovereignty in Mongol Iran,” submitted to the Department of History, University of Michigan, and Cameron Lindley Cross’s dissertation “The Poetics of Romantic Love in Vis O Râmin,” submitted to the Faculty of the Division of the Humanities, University of Chicago with honorable mention for superior scholarship, originality, clarity, and significant contribution to Iranian Studies.


Notice of the awards will appear in the Foundation’s interactive web, MESA and SIS journals, and in various Persian and English language academic publications.


Gholam Reza Afkhami


Ph.D. Dissertation Awards Committee

Foundation for Iranian Studies


To see the list of Award WinnersClick

To read the dissertation, click