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The Royal Society Te Apārangi-Rutherford Foundation (the Foundation) was established as a Charitable Trust in 2008 with the aim of building human capability in science and technology by providing support for excellent New Zealand early career researchers. The Foundation offered scholarships and fellowships, which carried the hallmark of excellence enabling strong connections to New Zealand to be maintained, thereby increasing the benefits to New Zealand that accrue from the investment in these recipients. The Trust was wound up in 2018 when the management of the Foundation’s funding opportunities was transferred to the Royal Society Te Apārangi (the Society).

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The objectives of the Rutherford Foundation Fellowships and Scholarships are to support the education and development of promising excellent early career researchers with the potential to excel in a research environment.

The funding opportunities support early career researchers who demonstrate a passion for research, science and technology, and have a strong sense of the purpose and benefits of research to New Zealand.

Receipt of a Rutherford Foundation award is expected to have a significant value in the future career development of the supported Scholars and Fellows and help them to establish a foundation on which to embark on an independent research career.

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About the scholarship

The Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarships are jointly funded by the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust (CCEIT) and Royal Society Te Apārangi with New Zealand Government support.

Up to ONE Scholarship can be awarded in the 2021 funding round. The Scholarship is intended to provide full support for three years to enable completion of a PhD at the University of Cambridge in pure or applied science and the social sciences.

This award is expected to play a strong part in the Scholar’s professional development. The Scholarships are offered annually, with the expectation that applicants will begin their course of study in the following year (usually September or October).

Successful applicants will receive a living allowance (maintenance) of approximately £14,777* per annum, and their course and college fees for up to a maximum of three years while enrolled for study towards their PhD at the University of Cambridge. In addition, they will be eligible for one, non-transferable, return airfare between the United Kingdom and New Zealand per annum.

Please note that applicants will be responsible for all other costs including, but not limited to: visa and entry requirement costs to the United Kingdom; any travel other than the agreed New Zealand to United Kingdom air fares; and, any additional fees other than course fees incurred from applying to the University of Cambridge.

*[This is an indicative amount, as the allowance is set annually by the CCEIT to cover annual living expenses while studying at the University of Cambridge]

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Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants from the disciplines of science and technology (which includes pure or applied science and the social sciences) are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens or have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least two years immediately prior to their application and hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.
  • Applicants who hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa are also required to have completed their undergraduate study in New Zealand to be considered eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be in a position that if successful, they would be able to enter the United Kingdom and comply with the regulations for matriculation at the University of Cambridge.
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Selection Criteria

  • Demonstration of academic excellence
  • Potential for career development
  • Quality of the proposed research programme
  • Depth of understanding of the proposed research, its ultimate purpose, and benefits to New Zealand
  • Additional criterion that may be considered: transfer of skills.
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Additional Rules

Successful applicants must commence their course of study in the following year unless otherwise agreed to by the Society.

Rules applicable to the University of Cambridge:

  • To take up the award the applicant must fulfil any academic conditions, including being accepted for admission to a University of Cambridge college.
  • Applicants are encouraged to look into the process of applying for admission to a college at the University of Cambridge.  Although it is unlikely a Rutherford Foundation Scholar would be denied admission, the process is not automatic, and so successful applicants will be required to complete such admission applications by the due date in December of the year before study.
  • Awardees may also be required to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate depending on the proposed area of study.
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Selection Process

The Society will appoint a selection panel, chaired by the President of the Royal Society, or their nominee, to oversee the selection process. The assessment of proposals is a two-stage process:

  • Stage one is a short-listing for an interview by the Selection Panel
  • Stage two is the interviewing of short-listed applicants by the Selection Panel.

Applicants invited to interview will have their flight expenses covered by the Society. Applicants that are unable to travel to the interview may request to have the interview conducted by video conference.

All applicants will be notified in late September as to whether they have been invited to interview. Successful applicants will be notified in November or December (TBC).

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Application Closing Date

Applications and supporting information must be submitted to the Royal Society Te Apārangi on the Rutherford Foundation Proposals on-line portal by the closing date of 05 August 2021 at 5 pm (NZST).

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Application Process

Proposals must be submitted on the web-based portal, Proposals On-Line.

  • Applicants must contact their university’s research office coordinator to obtain their login details for the Proposals On-Line system. If you are currently not associated with a university, you may request your login details from the Society.
  • Researchers should write their proposals directly into Proposals On-Line using the forms and templates provided with the original formatting retained. The templates can be downloaded directly from Proposals On-line.
  • Please note that paper copies (including declarations) are not required when submitting a proposal through the Proposals On-Line portal. Proposals On-Line has a document printing facility which can be used to view and print the application for checking and your own records.
  • The layout of the entire application on Proposals On-Line is automatic. The limit on space in all sections of the templates should be adhered to and the typeface should be 11 point, Times or similar type font, single spacing (11 point), with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right sides of the page. Instructions in italic may be removed, but not the margins. No additional pages or attachments will be accepted other than where requested or required.
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Assistance with filling out the on-line application form

The on-line application consists of information entered directly into the portal in combination with the upload of specific templates and documents as listed in the table below.




Type of entry

Section 1-3

Applicant details, eligibility, and fields of research

Entered on-line

Section 4

CV - Qualification(s), previous employment history, awards, and other notable contributions

Download the “Qualifications and career history” template. Upload completed form when finished.

Section 6

Research title and summary

Entered on-line

Section 7-11

7. Project Description

8. New knowledge/skills gained through the Scholarship

9. Why do you want to do the project

10. Previous research experience in suggested area

11. Examples demonstrating your capability to complete a PhD

Download the “Research & Motivation” template. Upload completed form when finished.

Section 12


Entered on-line

Supporting information

- Proof of New Zealand citizenship or residency

- Academic transcript(s) of undergraduate studies undertaken.

- A declaration form signed by you

- Upload copy

- Upload copy (1 file for all transcripts)

- Download the declaration template and upload when signed

Table 1: Application contents. 

Note: Applicants for a Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship are not being asked to fill out section 5 on the application portal.

1.      Applicant’s details

This section is for personal details. It identifies who you are and where you can be contacted most readily. Complete this section, providing all details. If any of your contact details should change at any stage after the application is submitted, please inform the Society as soon as possible.


There is a facility in this section of the portal for applicants to add or create an ORCID ID (https://orcid.org/). An ORCID ID is preferred from all applicants, but is not mandatory. Please click on the "Create or Connect your ORCID ID" button on the top right of the "Contact Details" section and follow instructions.

2.      Eligibility and Host Information


Please select from the drop down menu whether you are a New Zealand Citizen or hold/are deemed to hold a New Zealand resident visa. If you hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa, you need to indicate how long you have resided in New Zealand immediately prior to this application. Proof of citizenship or residency must be scanned and uploaded to Proposal On-line (see supporting information). Original or certified copies of the documents may be requested by the Society.

Proposed host institution

This field has been set to the University of Cambridge and can’t be changed.

Proposed supervisor

Please enter the name, department, and email address of your proposed supervisor. It is not necessary to have a fully-defined project and supervisor at the University of Cambridge – only an indication of the applicant’s research interests and proposed supervisors are required at the time of application. Nonetheless, it is advisable to contact any potential supervisor(s) at the earliest opportunity as this enables applicants to achieve a clearer understanding of their proposed PhD topic. As such, applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors and tap into any existing networks they or their academic colleagues may have to accomplish this. However, applicants should be aware that it is often the case that staff at the University of Cambridge cannot confirm they will host a particular project until applicants have secured funding.

Eligibility exemption (if applicable)

Please enter the reasons for why you are asking for an exemption. If you hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa, please indicate where in New Zealand you completed your undergraduate studies.

3.      Fields of Research

Fields of research (FOR) classification:

The FOR classification allows research and development (R&D) activity to be categorised according to the field of research. In this respect, it is the methodology used in the R&D that is being considered. Please enter up to FIVE codes from the list of research codes supplied in “Fields of Research Classification Codes” here. For a list of codes, please refer to the Field of Research Calculator at:


Please use codes that are as specific as possible, i.e. 6 digits. Also indicate project key words or phrases not exceeding 255 characters in total (separated by commas or semi-colons; please do not use the return key).

As part of the Society’s New Zealand Research Information System (NZRIS) obligations, we are required to report the share of each FOR code to the proposed research. Please indicate the % share of each FOR code to the proposed research. The shares should add up to 100%.

Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) classification:

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) and SEO classification allow R&D activity in Australia and New Zealand to be categorised according to the intended purpose or outcome of the research rather than the processes or techniques used in order to achieve this objective. The purpose categories include processes, products, health, education and other social and environmental aspects in Australia and New Zealand that R&D activity aims to improve. Please enter up to FIVE codes from the drop-down field, using codes that are as specific as possible. For a list of codes, please refer to the Socio-Economic Objectives Calculator at:


As part of the Society’s NZRIS obligations, we are required to report the share of each SEO code to the proposed research. Please indicate the % share of each SEO code to the proposed research. The shares should add up to 100%.

Type of Research Activity

Collection of research activity data for Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship proposals will form part of our reporting obligations for NZRIS. The default setting on the portal for each proposal is “Basic” and set to 100%. This can be changed if required. If no change is required, no action is needed.

The four activities are:

  • Pure basic research: is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without looking for long term benefits other than the advancement of knowledge.
  • Strategic basic research: is experimental and theoretical work undertaken to acquire new knowledge directed into specified broad areas in the expectation of practical discoveries. It provides the broad base of knowledge necessary for the solution of recognised practical problems.
  • Applied research: is original work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge with a specific application in view. It is undertaken either to determine possible uses for the findings of basic research or to determine new ways of achieving some specific and predetermined objectives.
  • Experimental development is systematic work, using existing knowledge gained from research or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products, devices, policies, behaviours or outlooks; to installing new processes, systems and services; or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

4.      CV (Qualifications and career history template)

4a. Qualifications (Degrees/Diplomas completed)

Please enter the date the qualification was granted, the type of qualification, and the institution from which it was granted. You can add additional rows if needed.

4b. Current and previous employment history and career interruptions (if applicable)

Please include current and previous positions you’ve held. You should add additional rows if needed. Applicants who have had periods of career interruptions (e.g. parental leave, illness, and/or longer periods of part time work) should list these interruptions here. This information will further aid panellists in assessing your research relative to opportunity.

4c. Awards

Please enter the type of award and the year you received the award.

4d. Other notable contributions

Please enter other notable contributions that demonstrate your capabilities as a researcher (e.g. published peer-reviewed publications, awarded research or travel grants, conference chairs, speaker invitations, editorial boards, conference committees or other activities you think are relevant for your application).

5.      Vision Mātauranga themes (NOT APPLICABLE)

Note that applicants applying for Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship are not asked to engage with Vision Mātauranga. This section has therefore been greyed out on the portal.

6.      Project Title and Summary

6a.  Title of proposed research

Please provide a title that describes the nature of your proposed programme of research. Keep the title brief and to the point.

6b.  Project Summary

Please provide a summary of the planned project suitable for a lay audience with some limited science knowledge, and using a maximum of 300 words. The summary may describe an area of research that interest you or a project you have agreed with a potential supervisor. The summary may be used for reporting and public information.

Note for Sections 7-11

Using a maximum of THREE pages, please address each of the sections 7-11 below. You are allowed to make one section longer than another, but you must address all sections.

7.      Project Description

Please describe the general objectives of the proposed research and give the context for these objectives by summarising, in plain English, the state of the knowledge and/or outstanding questions in the field.

8.      What new knowledge and skills do you anticipate gaining through the Scholarship?

Please describe what new knowledge and skills you expect to gain through the Scholarship.

9.      Why do you want to do this project?

Please describe why you want to do this project/PhD in the context of how you intend to develop your future research career.

10.  Describe any research you have already undertaken in this area

Please describe any research you have already undertaken in this area (or other areas), including any publications and any contact with your potential supervisor.

11.  Examples demonstrating your capability to complete a PhD

Please provide examples from your studies or extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your particular capability to complete a PhD.

12.  Referees

References are required from two academic and one personal referee. Academic referees should fill out the referee report template available from the Rutherford Foundation referee web portal, while the personal referee should respond in the form of a reference letter. Referee reports should be uploaded directly to the on-line referee web portal.

Please enter the names and contact details of three referees who have agreed to provide a reference for you. When you have entered the referee names, and ensured that they are willing to provide the Rutherford Foundation with a reference for you before the application closing date of 05 August 2021, you need to select “SEND EMAIL”. Upon selecting “SEND EMAIL”, an automatic email will be sent to your referee with a URL access link to a web portal where the referee can upload the reference. It is prudent for you to check that the referees have received the invitation to review your application and the URL link. Occasionally, the email that is automatically generated when selecting “SEND EMAIL” is inadvertently identified as spam and ends up in a referees ‘junk’ folder in their email client. If this happens, please ask your referee to contact the Rutherford Foundation.

If a referee informs you that he or she for some reason can’t upload a referee report before the deadline, you can enter an additional referee on the On-line Proposals web portal. In the instance where the Society receives more than three referee reports, we will use the first three reports received.

You can check if the Society has received each of the applicant-solicited referee reports by logging in to the proposals on-line system and go to the Referees section.

Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that your referees upload their report to the portal no later than the closing date for applications, i.e. 05 August 2021 at 5pm (New Zealand Standard Time).

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Supporting information

In addition to the completed electronic application, applicants must upload electronic copies of the following documents (scanned jpeg or PDF preferred):

  • Proof of New Zealand citizenship or residency
  • Academic transcript(s) of undergraduate studies undertaken.
  • A declaration form signed by you

Note that the Rutherford Foundation may request to see original or certified copies of the above documents.


The Society encourages applications from all eligible members of the New Zealand research community. To monitor the profile of different groups of applicants and identify funding trends and gaps, the Society would appreciate applicants providing the information requested in this section of Proposals On-Line. The statistical data will be used by the Society for statistical purposes only. Note that this information will not form part of your application.

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Submitting your application

Once you are happy with your application, you must mark it as COMPLETED. To do this, select Preview/Print from the left hand menu, followed by “Mark as Completed”. This flags to your institution coordinator that the proposal has been completed and can be released to the Society. If you need to make changes to your application after you have marked it as completed, you must confer with your research office first.

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Application Templates


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