Commonwealth PhD Scholarships are for candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, for full-time doctoral study at a UK university.
Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Commonwealth PhD Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK. These scholarships are offered under six themes:
- Science and technology for development
- Strengthening health systems and capacity
- Promoting global prosperity
- Strengthening global peace, security and governance
- Strengthening resilience and response to crises
- Access, inclusion and opportunity
To apply for these scholarships, you must:
- Be a citizen of or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country, or be a British Protected Person
- Be permanently resident in an eligible Commonwealth country
- Be available to start your academic studies in the UK by the start of the UK academic year in September/October 2018
- By October 2018, hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) honours standard, or a second class degree and a relevant postgraduate qualification (usually a Master’s degree)
- NOT be registered for a PhD, or an MPhil leading to a PhD, at a UK university before September/October 2018
- Be unable to afford to study in the UK without this scholarship
The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make change. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination, and encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates. For further information on the support available to candidates with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.
The CSC is committed to administering and managing its scholarships and fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For further information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and the DFID guidance on reporting fraud.
Eligible Commonwealth countries
Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Cameroon, Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria ,Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Helena, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Tuvalu ,Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia.
Terms and conditions
For full terms and conditions – including further details of the scholarship themes, tenure and placement, value of the scholarship, and general conditions – see the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2018 terms and conditions
You should apply to study at a UK university which has a part funding agreement with the CSC. View a full list of UK universities with part funding agreements
You may propose to study at one university for a four-year PhD, but this must be based in a recognised Doctoral Training Centre. You must research this option thoroughly (further details can be found on the websites of the individual UK research councils) and justify its added value compared with a three-year PhD. As the CSC will fund only a limited number of four-year PhDs, if you do choose this option, you are strongly advised to also propose at least one three-year PhD choice.
Each year, the CSC invites selected nominating bodies to submit a specific number of nominations. The deadline for nominating bodies to submit nominations to the CSC is 22 March 2018.
The CSC invites around three times more nominations than scholarships available – therefore, nominated candidates are not guaranteed to be awarded a scholarship. There are no quotas for scholarships for any individual country. Candidates nominated by national nominating agencies are in competition with those nominated by other nominating bodies, and the same standards will be applied to applications made through either channel.
Applications will be considered according to the following selection criteria:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Quality of the research proposal
- Potential impact of the work on the development of the candidate’s home country
For further details, see the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2018 selection criteria
How to apply
You must apply to one of the following nominating bodies in the first instance – the CSC does not accept direct applications for these scholarships:
- National nominating agencies – this is the main route of application
- Selected universities/university bodies, which can nominate their own academic staff
- Selected non-governmental organisations and charitable bodies
All applications must be made through one of these nominating bodies. Each nominating body is responsible for its own selection process. You must check with your nominating body for their specific advice and rules for applying, their own eligibility criteria, and their own closing date for applications. The CSC does not impose any age limit on applicants, but nominating bodies may do so in line with their own priorities.
You must make an application using the CSC’s Electronic Application System (EAS), in addition to any other application that you are required to complete by your nominating body.
Your application must be submitted to and endorsed by one of the approved nominating bodies listed above. The CSC will not accept any applications that are not submitted via the EAS.
All applications, with full transcripts detailing all your higher education qualifications (with certified translations if not in English), must be submitted by 23.59 (GMT) on 22 February 2018 at the latest.
You are advised to complete and submit your application as soon as possible, as the EAS will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
You must provide the following supporting documentation, which must be received by the CSC by 23.59 (GMT)on 22 March 2018 in order for your application to be eligible for consideration:
- References from at least two individuals
- Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions named on your application form
Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its scholarships or fellowships through its Electronic Application System (EAS), and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.
Choosing a university/course
You may find the following resources useful when researching your choices of institution and course of study in the UK:
- Study UK – British Council website, with guidance for international students and a course and institution search
- Postgrad.com – information for postgraduate students, with a course search
- Prospects – information on postgraduate study in the UK
- Research Excellent Framework 2014 results – results of a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions
- UCAS Postgraduate – guidance on how to find and apply for a postgraduate course
- Unistats – the official website for comparing UK higher education course data
- UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) – advice for international students on choosing a course of study
All enquiries about these scholarships should be directed to your nominating body.