Commonwealth PhD Scholarships are for candidates from least developed countries and fragile states in the Commonwealth, to undertake full-time doctoral study at a UK university.
Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), 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 development themes:
1. Science and technology for development
2. Strengthening health systems and capacity
3. Promoting global prosperity
4. Strengthening global peace, security and governance
5. Strengthening resilience and response to crises
6. Access, inclusion and opportunity
For more information on other scholarships offered by the CSC, visit the CSC Apply page.
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 2021
- By September 2021, hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) honours standard, or a second-class degree (2:2) and a relevant postgraduate qualification (a Master’s degree)
- NOT be registered for a PhD, or an MPhil leading to a PhD, at a UK university before September 2021
- NOT have commenced and be currently registered for a PhD, or an MPhil leading to a PhD, in your home country or elsewhere
- Have the support of a potential supervisor from at least one UK university listed in your application form
- Have provided all supporting documentation in the required format
- 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.
The CSC is committed proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of our beneficiaries, and to protect its staff, Commissioners, beneficiaries and all those with whom the CSC comes into contact. The CSC requires staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Applicants should note the CSC’s Safeguarding Policy which sets out the obligation for staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Any safeguarding concerns should be reported to the Commission at: email@example.com
Terms and Conditions
For full terms and conditions – including further details of the scholarship development themes, tenure and placement, value of the scholarship, and general conditions – see the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2021 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 council) 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 1 March 2021.
Applications will be considered according to the following selection criteria:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Quality of the plan of study
- Potential impact on the development of the candidate’s home country
For further details, see the Commonwealth PhD Scholarship 2021 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
Each nominating body is responsible for its own selection process and may have additional eligibility criteria. 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.
You must make your application using the CSC’s online application system, in addition to any other application that you are required to complete by your nominating body. The CSC will not accept any applications that are not submitted via the online application system.
All applications must be submitted with all mandatory fields completed by 16:00 (GMT) on 18 January 2021 at the latest.
You are advised to complete and submit your application as soon as possible, as the online application system will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
Your application must include all the required supporting documentation, by 16:00 (GMT) on 1 February 2021 in order for your application to be eligible for consideration
You must check the Commonwealth PhD Scholarships 2021 terms and conditions for a full list of supporting documentation that must be submitted in order for your application to be eligible.
- Proof that you are a citizen or have refugee status of an eligible Commonwealth country: a copy of your valid passport (or national ID card) showing your photograph, date of birth, and country of citizenship – uploaded to the online application system
- Full transcripts detailing all your higher education qualifications including to-date transcripts for any qualifications you are currently studying (with certified translations if not in English) – uploaded to the online application system
- References from at least two individuals – submitted directly by the referees to the online application system (referees will be sent an email request to submit online)
- Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions named on your application form -– submitted directly by your proposed supervisor to the online application system (supervisors will be sent an email request to submit online).
If any of the required documentation is not provided by the dates specified above, your application will be considered ineligible.
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
The CSC is not responsible for the content of external sites
Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its scholarships or fellowships through its online application system and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.
All enquiries about these scholarships should be directed to your nominating body.
If you have any general questions about the CSC application, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for PhD 2021 page.