Merlin Tieleman received the 'Dies Natalis Student Award' from Maastricht University


Merlin Tieleman, freshly graduated from the master in political science on science and technology studies, was awarded the ‘Dies Natalis Student Award’ from the university of Maastricht. This price is a reward for his master’s thesis on the appearance of social discriminations within an algorithm used to assign grades to students in England in 2020.


ithin the framework of the Master’s degree in political science with a specialization in science, technology and society, students participate in a co-diploma program between the University of Liège and the University of Maastricht. The students write a dissertation that is supervised by both universities, but which is also reviewed by a third-party reader who is part of the European Science, Technology and Society (ESST) network. It is within this framework that Merlin’s dissertation received the highest rating of “excellent” in Maastricht.

His thesis, supervised in Liège by professor Pierre Delvenne and Jean-Baptiste Fanouillère, focused on the appearance of social discriminations in algorithms. To do so, he built on social science methodologies to analyse an algorithm used in England to grade students as exams were cancelled following the Covid-19 crisis. His thesis showed how the social environment around the algorithm shaped its design and its implementation, leading to an automation of discriminations present within the English education system.

About the prize

Each year, Maastricht Universtity rewards the best thesis within each faculty. In this case, Merlin is awarded the student award from the Faculty of Art and Social Sciences (FASOS). He will receive this award from the Rector of Maastricht University during the 47th Dies Natalis celebration on the 27th of January, where students from other faculties will also be rewarded, as well as the best PhD dissertation from the academic year 2021-2022.

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