Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentship Awards

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
  • One for Commonwealth students in other countries

In 2019-20, one of the two studentships available supported a PhD student to travel to the UK for their research. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-21, both studentships will support the successful applicants to carry out research in their home countries, with the help of mentors in another Commonwealth country.

Applications for the 2020-21 awards have now closed and the winners are detailed below.

It is anticipated that details of the 2021-22 awards will be posted on 18 May 2021. The deadline for the 2021-22 awards will be 23 July 2021.

Winners of the 2020-21 awards

The winner of the 2020-21 award for a PhD student registered at a member university of the ACU outside the UK is Navida Bachan.

Navida Bachan

Navida is studying for a PhD in Governance at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. She holds a BSc in Economics and an MSc in Development Statistics with a specialization in Social and Demographic Statistics, both from UWI. In 2017 she was the recipient of the Jack Harewood award for most outstanding student on the MSc in Development Statistics programme. She spent a semester at the University of Alberta as a visiting graduate student, expanding her knowledge of mixed-methods research for her PhD whilst enhancing her skills through International House’s Global Leadership Development programme.

Navida’s 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 has a special interest in the tenets of participatory governance in the health sector, and how it has been applied in Commonwealth contexts that have facilitated improved health outcomes for populations. Her professional work as a researcher in the Trinidad and Tobago health sector, both at the national and sub-national levels, has contributed significantly to her insights about health system governance and its link to health system performance, and subsequently healthcare delivery.

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.

The winner of the 2020-21 award for a PhD student registered at a university in the UK is Rob Cullum.

Rob Cullum

Rob is currently a PhD researcher at Aberystwyth University’s International Politics Department. He graduated from Monash University with an honours degree in History, and subsequently undertook a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, where he was the 2016 Robert O’Neill scholar. He interned with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, where he worked on the Shangri-La Dialogue and undertook a research project on Singaporean strategic dynamics in relation to the US-China strategic rivalry. He has also worked for the Australian government.

Rob’s 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 intends to use 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.


Winners of the 2019-20 awards

The winner of the 2019-20 award for a PhD student registered at a member university of the ACU outside the UK was Nurulhuda Zakariya.

Nurulhuda Zakariya

Nurulhuda is a judicial officer in Malaysia by profession and currently a full-time PhD student at the University of Malaya. She graduated from International Islamic University Malaysia in August 2008 with an LLB (Hons), and, as a Chevening scholar, took an LLM in Comparative and International Dispute Resolution from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). She also holds a Diploma in Islamic Banking and Finance Arbitration from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a Certificate of Mediation from Royal Roads University.

Nurulhuda’s PhD research focuses on judicial independence within the context of the subordinate judiciary and specifically the magistracy, examining legal concepts and judicial independence principles, and their application in the Malaysian magistrates’ courts as compared with the Indian and UK magistracies.

She still intends to use the Routledge/Round Table award to fund a visiting research studentship at QMUL, under the guidance of a host supervisor, Professor Kate Malleson. During this time, as well as accessing library and other materials and attending seminars and conferences, she hopes to conduct direct observation sessions in a UK magistrates’ court in order to gain a better first-hand understanding of the magisterial concept and judicial administration as developed and practised in the UK. She also hopes to conduct semi-structured interviews with relevant academics based in the UK, UK district judges, and magistrates, and set up engagement sessions with relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Justice, Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, and Judicial Appointments Commission.

Sukhgeet Kaur

The winner of the 2019-20 award for a PhD student registered at a university in the UK was Sukhgeet Kaur, currently a student in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge.

Sukhgeet took a BA (Hons) and a Master’s degree in Economics from Panjab University, Chandigarh, funded by scholarships, later also winning a Dharam Hinduja ODA scholarship to complete an MPhil degree in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. More recently she has earned an LLB degree and completed a Public Policy course at the University of California, Berkeley, sponsored by the Government of India.

A civil servant by profession, Sukhgeet belongs to Group A service of the Indian Administrative Service and Allied Services in the Government of India. She is currently posted to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), a premier Government of India think tank. At NITI Aayog, she has dealt with project appraisal of important ministries, industrial policy and trade strategy, and agricultural marketing and price policies. In her previous assignment at the Ministry of External Affairs, she handled India’s bilateral relations with important partners in South Asia and South-East Asia and investment trade promotion policies.

Sukhgeet was selected by the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, for partial funding for her PhD research at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on policy interventions to ameliorate the economic shocks faced by Indian farmers. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana contribute substantially to food stocks, yet face acute distress. The subject has wider significance as farmers across the Global South face vulnerability and there is an urgent need to investigate new policy interventions.


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