The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme


What's involved?

Become a Future Leader

Do you have the drive to become one of the leaders of the future?  Are you excited by the opportunity to help tackle world problems?  If so, this programme is for you!  

It's a chance for you to:

  • develop your leadership skills through training and practical work
  • undertake research with academic staff on questions of global significance
  • be part of a high-performing group of students from across UCL
  • join a global network of scholars
  • enhance your CV and employability

The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme runs at many leading universities across the globe, creating a large network of past and present scholars.  It is generously funded by the Laidlaw Foundation.

Each year UCL recruits up to 30 of the best applicants to become UCL Laidlaw Scholars.  Gaining a place on the Laidlaw Programme is widely regarded as an indicator of exceptional academic and leadership promise. 

Visit the Drop In pages for an introduction to the Programme from the Programme Manager and Academic Director, plus examples of experiences by previous UCL Laidlaw Scholars.

The programme of activities runs from Term 2 of your first year to Term 1 of your third year.  The main elements of the programme are:

  • Leadership Training (I): Six days of core leadership training - weekend activities with your UCL cohort
  • Leadership Training (II): Ethical leadership training - working with all universities to understand our core ethical values
  • Six weeks research project - in your first summer
  • Six weeks "Leadership in Action" project - in your second summer

You'll receive a generous bursary to cover your living costs for the two summer projects, and in exchange you'll be expected to fully commit and work full time on the projects.


The Laidlaw programme is all about making you a better leader.  The two key elements are Leadership Training (Parts I and II) and the Leadership In Action project.

Leadership Training I: Core Training

Taught over three weekends spread through the year, this specially tailored programme will introduce you to key concepts in leadership.

You will work with your cohort in depth to learn about

  • Yourself as a leader - finding your leadership style
  • Leading teams - adapting your style to others
  • Leading in different workplace cultures
  • Ethical leadership - understand the principles that underpin all good leadership

Key weekend workshop Dates: you must be able to attend this training as part of your award

  • 26 to 28 April 2024 - Residential Weekend outside London (see below)
  • 25 and 26 May 2024 - Leadership Workshop 2: In person on Bloomsbury Campus
  • 9 and 10 November 2024 - Leadership Workshop 3: In person on Bloomsbury Campus

The April residential leadership weekend is a great way to start your leadership training in a fully immersive environment.  You will have the chance to get to know your cohort of Laidlaw Scholars in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.  We will leave London on the Friday afternoon (26 April), and stay at the venue on Friday and Saturday night, returning to London on the Sunday afternoon (28 April).

Leadership Training II: Ethical Leadership

Laidlaw scholars from all participating universities will come together to participate in ethical leadership workshops.  These will be the final formal leadership training elements of the programme.  Ethical leadership is central to everything the programme teaches.  In these workshops, scholars will be encouraged to consider what ethical leadership consists of, and how they can demonstrate these values through their actions and behaviour.

Summer Projects

Research Project: Summer One

All Laidlaw Scholars will undertake an independent piece of academic research lasting six weeks in their first summer.  This is a chance to work with leading academic researchers, and enhance your research leadership skills.

When undertaking your research project, you will either

  1. Join an academic research team from the projects list - the list is updated with new projects in November each year.
  2. Propose your own summer project topic - you will need to find an academic member of staff who agrees to supervise your project before you apply.

Leadership In Action Project: Summer Two

The project in your second summer gives you the chance to build on skills and knowledge gained in the first year of the scheme.  This is also a chance to give back to society.  You will be working with communities in need, doing something to make the world a better place.  Most Laidlaw Scholars will be expected to undertake the Leadership in Action project outside the UK.  All projects are fully funded through the Laidlaw programme.

There are three types of project you could consider:

  • Leadership Expedition - Choose an expedition from the list provided to you after your first year, and you will get the chance to work with Laidlaw Scholars from across the UK in challenging settings abroad, putting your leadership skills to the test.  
  • Leadership Project with a Not-for-Profit or similar organisation -  If you have your own idea about a Leadership Project, we will assist you to make it happen.  The project will need to fit the ethos of the scheme, and you'll need to be a self-starter to get it off the ground.  However, the satisfaction will make it all worth it.
  • Infield Application of your research - Sometimes a great first year research project can be developed to work in practice as second year project - enhancing your leadership skills whilst bringing benefit to society.  Not a continuation of research, but an application of it in a practical setting.

    Other opportunities

    Other opportunities can arise from your involvement in the Laidlaw Programme such as:

    • Mentoring - As a mentor or mentee
    • Leading the UCL Laidlaw Society
    • Opportunities to present your research work or leadership experiences