The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme


What's involved?

As a Laidlaw Scholar, you'll develop leadership and research skills which will help you stand out from the crowd

This prestigious UCL programme makes available 25 generous bursaries as part of its package of training and research opportunities.

The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme aims to create the leaders of the future. It is open to ambitious high-performing first year undergraduate students in any discipline who have a desire to undertake research at a high level.

It runs at a number of leading UK Russell Group universities and internationally, creating a large network of past and present scholars. Gaining a Laidlaw Scholarship is widely regarded as an indicator of exceptional academic and leadership promise.

The scholarship is a programme of activities which runs from the second term of your first year to the first term of your third year. It's a chance for you to:

  • make a contribution to UCL’s research, working with academic staff on questions of global significance;
  • develop and practise leadership skills through training and put your skills into practice at UCL;
  • be part of a high-performing group of students from across UCL;
  • enhance your CV and employability for the future.

The mandatory elements of the programme are:

  • Six days of leadership training - in March, June and November.
  • Two summer research periods of six weeks - usually at the start of your first and second year summer holidays.
  • Attendance on the UCL Global Citizenship Programme, and acting as a Global Citizenship Ambassador.
  • You're also strongly encourage to submit a research poster to the Posters in Cloisters competition.

You'll be expected to fully commit to these elements. 

As you go through the programme, you'll develop leadership skills and research skills which will help you stand out from the crowd - and to get where you want to go.


During the course of the programme you'll join three two-day Leadership workshops, with other Laidlaw Scholars, learning about the key elements of leadership through a mixture of classes and practical exercises.

You'll increase your understanding of practical leadership, of your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to lead and motivate a team. It's also a chance to support each other in your learning and bond as a group.

As you progress through the programme you'll be able to put this leadership learning into practice.

During your second and third years, you'll be expected to use your leadership skills to make a contribution to life at UCL. This could be an activity like setting up or running a student society or participating in a UCL committee. There are many inventive ways to make a contribution. 

In addition, you'll have the chance to mentor junior Laidlaw Scholars, act as an ambassador for the scheme at open days and training, or participate in other opportunities which arise.


All Laidlaw Scholars will undertake two independent pieces of academic research, each lasting approximately six weeks.

This will be during the summers,  usually at the end of their first and second years. 

You will either

  1. Join an academic research team from the projects list - the title and details of the research need to be stated on your application form.
  2. Propose your own summer project topic. If you propose your own topic of research, you will need to find an academic member of staff who agrees to supervise your project before your apply.

Your time as a Laidlaw Scholar

The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme gives you a great opportunity to enhance your research and leadership skills. However, your degree studies will be your main focus through your time at UCL. For this reason, the Laidlaw programme has been timetabled to avoid conflicting with your main studies.

The research element of the programme will take place during the summer holidays - usually in the first six weeks of holidays in years 1 and 2.

Mandatory leadership training and the Global Citizenship Programme take place at weekends or out of term time. 

Other opportunities which arise from the programme are voluntary, and it is for you to judge when to engage with them so you get what you need out of the programme.

Year one


  • The online application portal opens to new applicants.

You will have an opportunity to get help and information about your application before submitting it by attending the drop in event in January.


  • Drop In events: a 'drop in' event will take place in January and will be advertised here. It is an opportunity for you to meet the supervisor for your chosen project and other key staff, to hear more about the programme and ask any questions.
  • Scheme closes: the scheme closes to new applicants in the last week of January. All applications must be received by this time, late applications will not be considered.


  • The Grand Challenges strands of the UCL Global Citizenship Programme will open for registration. You are required to register for this in order to be eligible for the Laidlaw Scholarship Programme.


  • New Scholars announced: Laidlaw Scholars will be selected by a panel on the basis of their application. You may also be invited to attend an interview.
  • Once selected, as a new Laidlaw Scholar, you will be invited to a welcome reception on the evening of Friday 15 March 2019, prior to the start of your leadership training weekend. 
  • First leadership workshop 16 - 17 March 2019: the first leadership workshop will be a full weekend of activities. As well as learning about different aspects of leadership, the weekend will be an opportunity for you to meet new scholars from across UCL  and get to know each other in an informal setting.


  • A mentoring event will give you an opportunity to find a mentor from the 2018 cohort of Laidlaw scholars.


  • Global Citizenship Programme 28 May - 7 June: you'll participate in the UCL Global Citizenship Programme on a Grand Challenges strand.
  • Second leadership workshop - date to be confirmed: You'll join the second intensive leadership workshop shortly after you complete the UCL Global Citizenship Programme. This will build and extend your previous learning around leadership and prepare you for the research element of the programme.


  • Summer projects run Monday 17 June - Friday 26 July: For six weeks over the summer of 2019, you will work with UCL academics and researchers to undertake a research project. This will be a full time and exciting period of intensive research, allowing you to delve into a topic of your choice. The start and end dates of the project can be flexible where necessary.

You will have chosen the project topic as part of your application to become a Laidlaw Scholar. 

By the end of the summer you will have gained research skills and will have worked alongside experts in your chosen field.

Year two


  • Third leadership workshop - date to be confirmed. The final weekend of leadership training will complete your intensive leadership education.
  • Poster Presentations - date to be confirmed: you will get the opportunity to present your work at a poster display event. You're also strongly encourage to submit a research poster to the Posters in Cloisters competition (submissions November - January)

Terms 2 and 3

  • You will have the opportunity to become a mentor to a new Laidlaw scholar.
  • You will be encouraged to find opportunities to put your leadership skills into practice for the benefit of the UCL community or the wider community.


  • You will have the opportunity to undertake a second period of fully funded intensive research, either continuing from the previous year or a new project.

This second period will allow you to build on the research skills gained in your first year, consolidating learning and increasing your confidence and ability to undertake an independent piece of research at a high level.

Year three

Your Laidlaw scholarship will formally end at the end of Term 1. 

However, we encourage you to take up opportunities to become involved with mentoring and ambassadorial activities where you can.