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Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentships

Applications open: Monday 13 February 2023
Applications close: Monday 17 April 2023

The Studentships

The PhD studentships provide support for research projects on Commonwealth related themes. Two studentships are available each year, one for UK-registered students and one for Commonwealth students in other countries.

The studentships have a value of GBP 5,500 each.

Proposed research must fulfil at least one of the below criteria:

  1. Relate to the Commonwealth as a whole or to any Commonwealth-wide institution or organisation
  2. Have a strong Commonwealth comparative aspect
  3. Be of relevance to a Commonwealth country other than the UK.

For example, a research project comparing LGBT rights in South Africa and Uganda would be eligible, as would a project on the reform of colonial-era anti-LGBT legislation in India, but a project on the role of Stonewall in advocating for LGBT rights in the UK would not.

Applications are welcomed from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, but preference may be given to disciplines usually covered by the Round Table journal, including (but not exclusively) politics, international relations, economics, international history, geography, law, development studies, and area studies.

The studentships are funded by The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs and the journal's publisher, Routledge, in association with the ACU.


The first studentship is open to registered PhD students from UK universities, although not necessarily UK citizens.

The second is open to registered PhD students from ACU member universities in Commonwealth counties other than the UK, and to Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarship alumni who are PhD students at any Commonwealth university outside the UK.


As part of the studentship, applicants are required to identify and work with a mentor at an ACU member university in a country other than their own. This should be an expert in a subject linked to the applicant’s subject of research, who will be able to provide support and advice during the studentship. Before applying, applicants are encouraged to informally approach at least one potential mentor and, if their application is successful, will then be required to obtain a letter of support from their mentor to agree to the mentorship before their studentship is confirmed.

The role of the mentor

The mentor will be expected to hold a minimum of two virtual meetings with the student during the period of the studentship. They will be expected to be in contact with the student by email to share their experiences in their relevant field, provide advice around publishing, events and trends in their field, and to challenge and empower the student to consider new ways of thinking.

The mentor will also be expected to contribute to either the podcast or the article and will be paid an honorarium of GBP 500, payable at the end of the studentship. Mentors must read and abide by the mentor code of conduct guidelines.

Mentor code of conduct guidelines

  • The relationship between mentor and mentee should not be exploitative in any way, nor open to misinterpretation
  • Mentors are responsible for setting and keeping appropriate boundaries that govern interactions with mentees
  • Mentors should maintain a clear mentoring relationship with mentees and not allow personal bias to influence their actions
  • Mentors should maintain confidentiality, objectivity and equal partnership
  • The mentor’s role is to respond to the mentee’s needs and agenda rather than imposing their own agenda
  • Mentors will share the responsibility for creating a smooth end to the relationship with the mentee, once it has achieved its purpose
  • Any personal data relating to the mentee held by the mentor should be deleted as soon as it is no longer needed.

Post-studentship requirements

Successful applicants will be required to submit, no more than twelve months after the take-up of the award, an article of between 4,000 and 6,000 words based on their research, for consideration for publication in the Round Table journal. Successful applicants will also be required to make a podcast on their research, for publication on the journal’s website.

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Meet the award winners


RRT R Kant

Romitesh Kant

Romitesh is the winner of the 2022-23 award for a PhD student registered at an ACU member university outside the UK.

Romitesh is a PhD student at the Department of Pacific Affairs within the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. His research examines the symbiotic relationship between politics and masculinities in Fiji.

Romitesh will be using the Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship award to pursue initial fieldwork in Fiji during the upcoming Fijian general elections to explore the myriad ways through which the historically and socially created concepts of gender, race, and other social identities are experienced and how these concepts are inextricably linked to masculine identities in Fiji. In doing so, he plans to trace how masculinities are constructed and performed, revealing how masculine power and state power are multi-layered, valorised, and challenged.

RRT V Agboga

Victor Agboga

Victor is the winner of the 2022-23 award for a PhD student registered at a university in the UK.

is a Nigerian PhD student at the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. He has worked as a student missionary, a news writer in several media outlets in Nigeria, and a teaching assistant in the United Kingdom. He also owns a YouTube channel with more than forty thousand subscribers as of September 2022. On his channel he shares international scholarship tips and opportunities.

Victor’s research revolves around African politics, African political economy, human security, and international development. His research interrogates, both quantitatively and qualitatively, how voters respond when their elected politicians change political parties – whether they punish or reward them, in a non-Western context. He particularly examines this phenomenon in Africa, using Nigeria, the biggest democracy on the continent, as a case study. His research sits against the backdrop of ongoing debates on voter agency and party institutionalisation in Africa.

With the Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship award, he aims to produce an academic paper for the Round Table and plan conference presentations within and outside Africa. He also plans to record a podcast on his key findings on voters’ response to party switching in Africa, and disseminate these both in academic and policy spaces.


Elza Dcruz Routledge Studentship Winner

Elza D’Cruz

Elza is a doctoral candidate at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), based at the Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India. Her research looks at the public garden as a space of negotiation between the colonial and the locals in Bangalore under British rule.

Elza plans to use the Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship to investigate how the colonial circulation of plants and garden ideas to Bangalore from other parts of the British Empire- such as Australia - shaped the public garden practice in Bangalore. She also intends to investigate the nature of the agency of the local people and land in the making of these landscapes by recording the oral histories of local gardening communities and the mapping of gardens.

RRT A Murad Web

Abraham Murad

Abraham won the award for 2021-22 but chose to defer his award until the 2022-23 academic year.

Abraham is a DPhil researcher in the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford. He has a master’s degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. His dissertation was shortlisted for the 2021 British Association of South Asian Studies' MA dissertation prize.

Abraham’s DPhil project investigates transformations in the nature of Christian identity, politics, and community in the Punjab region of north India during the upheavals of the twentieth century. He asks how challenges of caste, economic crises, the violence of partition, the evolution of the modern nation-state, and war, have been negotiated by missionaries, religious thinkers, and everyday practitioners of Christian communities.

His project will evaluate this development as an interaction of Indian ‘untouchable’ and ‘high caste’ groups with missionary institutions within colonial and postcolonial structures. It will therefore be a study of the development of their particular subjectivity, and politics of community, consensus, and self-representation. In doing so this project injects a new perspective into a historiography characterised by a lack of vernacular sources, and dominance by western scholars.


Rob Routledge Studentships Recipient

Rob Cullum

Rob is currently a PhD researcher at Aberystwyth University’s International Politics Department. His current research focuses on the naval response to climate change in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, seeking to understand how organisational forces shape each navy’s response.

Rob is using the Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship award to fund several purposes. His main aim will be to produce a research piece for The Round Table comparing Britain and Australia’s military and humanitarian activities among small island states in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. If the international health situation permits, he will also pursue fieldwork in the US to help better set the context for this piece and for his PhD work, through interviewing naval officials and experts.

Headshot Of Navida Bachan Routledge Studentships Winner

Navida Bachan

Navida is undertaking a PhD in Governance at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. Her PhD research investigates health system governance and its impact on the performance of health systems within the context of Trinidad and Tobago, and in relation to the United Kingdom.

Navida will be using the Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship award towards understanding key governance components within the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Specifically, her study of the NHS will begin with a review of key legislation, and culminate in interviews with health officials. She envisions her findings being translated into policy measures that contribute towards the overall strengthening of the Trinidad and Tobago health system as well as those of developing countries more generally.