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International Scholarships

Commonwealth Scholarship Plan - United Kingdom

Please note that there will be no competition for academic year 2014-2015.

Who Applies: Canadian students and researchers

Description: Scholarships offered to Canadians for doctoral study at United Kingdom universities under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.


The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) was established in 1959, with the first scholars selected in 1960. The Plan was suggested in an influential speech by Sidney Smith, a former President of the University of Toronto and later Canadian Minister of External Affairs, in September 1958. Its goal of the Plan is to nurture educational links among Commonwealth countries and to strengthen the ideals upon which the Commonwealth was founded. Over 27,000 Commonwealth citizens have held awards - many going on to reach the very highest levels of their profession.

The chief contributors to the Plan are Canada and the United Kingdom (UK), with 20 other member countries having offered awards over its 50 year lifespan.


Under the CSFP the UK offers awards to Canadians for doctoral study. The Plan is managed by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom, which is responsible for final selection and academic matters, and by the British Council.

Scholarships are for full-time engagement in the doctoral program awarded and no other courses of study may be undertaken at the same time.

The split-site award comprises two options:

  • 12 consecutive months; or
  • two six-month periods separated by no more than 12 months.

Split-site award holders who have not yet commenced their doctoral degree at the time of application will be eligible to spend a maximum of six months in the UK during their first year of study.



  • must be Canadian citizens, maintaining a permanent residence in Canada at the time of the competition deadline;
  • in the UK undertaking Master’s study are eligible but applicants who have started PhD study in the UK are not eligible. This includes applicants who are registered for an MPhil (or another status) which can be upgraded to a PhD status;
  • must have completed a university degree or expect to obtain a university degree prior to the commencement of the award;
  • must have a minimum of an (A-) average;
  • must be able to commence study in the UK by October 2013; and
  • applying for doctoral study must provide evidence of support from a prospective supervisor from at least one of the chosen institutions at the time of application.

In addition, applicants:

Applicants for split-site awards must:

  • provide proof of approval from their Canadian university; and 
  • demonstrate that their application builds on a departmental or institutional partnership (existing or in development) with a British university.

Terms and Conditions

Scholarship recipients:

  • will be required to submit a medical report before the award can be confirmed. Spouse and children, where relevant, must also meet all requirements for entry into the UK;
  • will be required to sign an undertaking to return to Canada as soon as their award comes to an end. The Commission will therefore be unable to provide any letter of support which might be requested by a scholarship recipient to remain in the UK to work thereafter;
  • may not concurrently hold other similar awards;
  • will be expected to take up the award from the date stated by the Commission in its formal award offer;
  • by applying for the award, the applicant consents that the Commission publishes their name as a provisionally selected applicant on its website;
  • will be expected to reside in the UK throughout their award, and to seek approval for any proposed visits abroad;
  • may not undertake paid employment during their award without prior consent; and
  • may have their award terminated at any time due to a scholar's unsatisfactory progress or conduct or due to the breach of any of the award’s conditions.

DFATD application process

To be considered for the Commonwealth Scholarship Plan an applicant must complete the following two-step process:

  1. Application Step 1: Applicants must first complete and submit the online application form of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) available on this site and provide the supporting documents as requested. This application will be used in the pre-selection process and can be submitted in French or in English.
  2. Application Step 2: Applicants must complete and submit the online application form on the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission website. This application will be used in the final selection process and must be submitted in English.

Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered.


Applicants are encouraged to carefully read the instructions below before beginning the online application. If applicants experience difficulty filling out or submitting the application, applicants should send an email to


  • must complete both application forms;
  • must enter data in the fields provided, following the instructions for each item;
  • must, upon completion, verify the data prior to submission;
  • can obtain a hard copy for record keeping by printing the form using the print function in the browser, prior to submitting; and
  • must click SUBMIT for the online application on this site. A confirmation page and reference number will appear after submission.

The following documentation must be uploaded and attached to the DFATD online application form (format .pdf, .jpg, .doc, .docx, .txt, .gif):

  • Certificate of admission: certificate of admission from the host institution or copy of correspondence testifying that the applicant has requested admission or will have access to the facilities needed to complete the proposed research project. Split-Site applicants must provide a letter of invitation from the proposed UK host institution.
  • Curriculum vitae: the Curriculum Vitae should not include photographs or any personal information such as a date of birth. (maximum four pages)

The following documents must be sent by mail or email (as appropriate):

  • Proof of registration for studies in progress: Split-Site candidates must provide proof of registration for studies in progress, including courses being taken at the Canadian home institution.
  • Artwork samples: three sets of artwork samples for applicants in Fine Arts, Music and Architecture. Applicants in the History or Theory of Art, of Music, or of Architecture are not required to submit samples. Artwork samples required are as follows:
    • Applicants in the Fine Arts (painting, graphic arts, sculpture and photography) must submit copies or photos of three pieces of their work. Film-makers and video artists must submit at least one recent film, indicating when it was made, how the applicant was involved in its production and the running time. These must be provided on a USB Key, CD or DVD, be dated, and clearly identified with the applicant's name.
    • Applicants in Music must submit a USB Key, CD or DVD of three original work pieces totaling no more than 30 minutes. The recordings of singers and instrumentalists must be chosen from three different musical periods, except in the case of Baroque musicians, who must include movements from three different types of pieces. Piano accompaniments may be included.
    • Applicants in Architecture must submit up to 10 reproductions of drawings, provided on a USB Key, CD or DVD.

Only samples as specified above will be presented to the Selection Committee.

Note that the copy of the birth certificate and the university/college transcripts which must be uploaded to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) will also be used for the purpose of pre-selection. 

It is strongly recommended that the applicant collect supporting documents in a sealed envelope and send them to the scholarship administrator in one package by a method that provides confirmation of its delivery, such as courier service or registered mail.

All supporting documentation should be sent to the scholarship administrator at:

Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)
Attn: Commonwealth Scholarship Plan – United Kingdom
220 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 1550
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5Z9

CBIE will be unable to acknowledge receipt, by letter or telephone, but applicants can e-mail CBIE at: for inquiries.

Letters of Recommendation

The Commission attaches great importance to letters of recommendation from people who are well acquainted with the applicant’s academic or professional work. Please note that:

  • where an applicant has studied at a UK university or is currently doing so, at least one referee should be from the institution concerned;
  • at least two referees should have taught or supervised the applicant in an area of study relevant to this application; and
  • for split-site awards, one reference must be from the PhD supervisor at the applicant’s home institution.

Referees will be required to submit letters of recommendation through the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS). These references will also be used by the Canadian Selection Committee for the pre-selection process.

The letters of recommendation must be submitted by the deadline for the online application to be considered.

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission application process

The following information is provided by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, which makes the final selection from applicants nominated by the Canadian Scholarship Selection Committee. Applicants should read the selection criteria carefully before submitting their application.

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System

Applicants must complete the online application form through the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System

Applicants are advised to review the following Applicants-Commonwealth Scholarships and Commonwealth Split-Site Scholarships web page for more information and a step-by-step guide on how to use the Electronic Application System.

Applicants must:

  • create a profile by clicking on “Register New User”;
  • on the application form select “Canadian Bureau for International Education” as the nominating agency; and
  • complete the application and attach the following documents:
    • passport photograph;
    • transcripts (one document) of all post-secondary degrees to date;
    • proof of Canadian citizenship; and
    • certificate of admission.

If the above list of documents is not submitted in English a certified translation must be included.

The Commission will not accept incomplete files. Supporting documents, other than the ones requested, will not be accepted.

Plan of study

The plan of study is particularly important as it is one of three scored components in the application, along with academic achievement and leadership potential.

Applicants should be aware that the responsibility for highlighting the relevance and reasons behind their choices rests with them. While the Commission obtains specialist advice on applications, it should not be assumed that the Committee will include a member with expertise in their specific study field. For doctoral applicants, the degree awarding body must be a UK institution. For split-site doctoral applicants, the degree awarding body must be a Canadian institution. In assessing doctoral applicants, particular attention will be paid to the detailed plan of study.

Words in excess of the prescribed length will be ignored. This is important since, in addition to examining the quality of the program, the committee will wish to see evidence of the applicant's ability to present an argument in a coherent and concise manner. Factors taken into account will include the following:

  • extent to which the project has been well researched and thought out, including (where appropriate) the identification of an institution and supervisor;
  • degree of innovation in the project;
  • likely impact of the project;
  • clarity of the proposal;
  • relevance and timeliness to the field of study; and
  • feasibility of the project, and likelihood that it can be completed in the proposed timeframe.

For split-site doctoral applicants, particular attention will also be paid to the detailed plan of study. Words in excess of the prescribed length will be ignored. It is essential to:

  • include a clear timetable to describe the work that will be completed prior to your travel to the UK and what will be undertaken at the UK institution;
  • outline the timeframe for completion of the PhD after the return home; and
  • justify the added value that the time in the UK will offer to the Canadian PhD.

The following factors will also be taken into account:

  • extent to which the project has been well researched and thought out, including (where appropriate) the identification of an appropriate institution and supervisor; and
  • the likely impact of the project.

Proposed Institution of Study

Applicants are expected to have undertaken research on suitable institutions of study. Although efforts are made to take into account the applicant's preferences, it is stressed that the final decision on the institution of study will be made by the Commission, which reserves the right to overrule any preferences expressed in the application. The Commission will consider the suitability of the study and its monetary value when considering any overruling. Please note that the Commission will be unable to take into account any change of preference notified by the applicant after January 31, 2013, unless there are exceptional reasons for this, such as the transfer of a named supervisor, which could not have been known to the applicant at the time of application.

Independent Applications to UK Universities

Many institutions have strict deadlines for entry into research programs (particularly at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London). Applicants must take the necessary steps to secure admission to their preferred institutions. Applicants should check admission requirements carefully at the time of application.

Alternative Institution

Unless otherwise stated, it is assumed that institutions are listed in order of preference. Applicants who indicate that they are not willing to consider alternatives will be automatically withdrawn from consideration if the institution(s) that they have indicated are deemed inappropriate by the Commission, or are not able to offer a placement.

Intellectual Property Rights

Collaboration is a feature of doctoral research. The Commission expects that participants in collaborative projects will develop a collaborative agreement to clarify the contributions and rights of each partner. The Commission will not get involved in negotiating an agreement, but will need to be assured that an arrangement, acceptable to both parties, exists.

Arrangements should be made to identify, protect and value any arising intellectual property and to secure a suitable return to the institution and the investigators. The Commission considers the intellectual property ownership to lie initially with the students; however, many universities have their own policy which is locally applicable. In many cases, it is in the best interest of the student for ownership to be vested with the university which will have greater negotiation powers and will likely be able to seek best returns in any agreement.

Award holders are expected to notify the Commission when Commission-funded intellectual property is exploited.

Leadership Potential (Other Achievements)

The Commission is keen to support applicants who combine academic skills of the highest quality with strong potential to reach positions of influence and to make an impact on wider society. The Commission recognizes that evidence for this could come in several forms. Examples might include exceptional commitment to a particular field of study, strong extra-curricular activities, demonstrated ability to overcome adversity, or social, political or charitable interests. Where possible, applicants should demonstrate how the scholarship and proposed course of study would relate to their future plans, although the commission does acknowledge that not all applicants will have specific careers in mind at this stage. This section will be given a specific grade in assessing the application, and the applicant’s own arguments will raise or lower their marks. Words in excess of 500 words will be ignored.


The deadline to submit applications is 23:59 EST, November 19, 2012.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that supporting documents are received by the respective deadline.

Review Procedures and Conditions

All eligible applications are evaluated by the Canadian Scholarship Selection Committee. The Committee is made up of individuals from the academic community representing all regions of Canada, both official language groups and a wide variety of academic disciplines. This Committee reviews, evaluates and ranks candidates to recommend a list of pre-selected candidates.

Note that pre-selection does not guarantee an award. This is a very competitive program with a very limited numbers of awards available to Canadian citizens. Only pre-selected applications will be sent to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK for final review.


Applicants will be contacted by December 21, 2012 by the scholarship administrator regarding the status of their application.

Applicants must ensure that a permanent email address is included in the application.

Final Selection

The Canadian Scholarship Selection Committee is invited to provide about three times more nominations than there are scholarships available to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. The Canadian nominations are assessed by a member of the Commission's Panel of Advisers with expertise in the subject area concerned, and then by the Commission's Selection Committee in competition with other applicants.

The Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom will notify all nominees of their decisions in late April 2013.

Candidates will be notified of their provisional selection by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom. Selection for an award is subject to the Commission agreeing to the terms of admission of the university/institution.

Selected candidates will be given a formal Notification of Award with an offer of a scholarship as soon as the terms of admission to the university/institution have been agreed.


All recommendations of the Selection Committee and decisions made by the host country are final. There is no appeal process.

The Selection Committee is not able to provide feedback for unsuccessful candidates.

Applications only submitted directly to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom will not be considered.

Applications and documents submitted to the scholarship administrator will not be returned.

These scholarships are subject to the availability of funding provided by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom.


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