The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme


Information for Supervisors

The first summer of research is key to the Laidlaw programme. It offers Scholars a chance to experience the excitement of research, to work alongside UCL academics, and gain new skills and knowledge.

Information for UCL Staff: Propose a project

If you have a project which would suit a high performing first year undergraduate you can propose it here.

The closing date for project proposals by supervisors (not students) is Monday 20 November 2023.  However, we may still be able to accept your proposal after this date.

The project needs to:

  • Run for six weeks full time in summer 2024: the standard six weeks (Monday 10 June to Friday 19 July 2024) are preferred but this can be altered by agreement between the supervisor and the student
  • Be at a level appropriate to a bright first year undergraduate
  • Involve critical thinking skills, and enough variety to be stimulating and stretching
  • Give the student the opportunity to interact regularly with you and/or an academic team.  Students find this interaction highly valuable.

We also encourage projects which have an international element (students can claim travel funding).

Supervisors gain a fully-paid-for junior researcher chosen from amongst the brightest of UCL’s first year undergraduates. It is a great opportunity to pass on your knowledge and enthusiasm, whilst helping the next generation of high performing students.

It reconnected me with what I most value about UCL as an academic institution."
Prof Patrick Haggard, Laidlaw Project Supervisor

Key contacts

The Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme is run by the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience).

  • Programme Manager: Christopher Cullen
  • Academic Director: Dr Zachary Walker

Email: laidlaw.scholarships@ucl.ac.uk 

This is an excellent programme that benefits both students and research staff running projects."
Katie Hollingworth, Laidlaw Project Supervisor


The level of the tasks set to us was perfect. They were challenging so that we pushed against our own limits, but at the same time such that we did not feel overwhelmed by them. The tasks were also varied, and they never got repetitive or boring."
UCL Laidlaw Scholar

How scholars are selected

Potential scholars will have the option of either proposing their own project or choosing a project from the list on the website.  

Scholars will apply via an online form which will ask them a number of questions including about their choice of project, the academic questions raised and how they meet the essential criteria.

You will be asked to provide at least three essential criteria which the scholars must demonstrate on their application form.

Once applications have closed for students, you will then be asked to shortlist all the applications for your project.  The maximum any project has received is 35 applications, but it usually varies between 5 - 15.

The final choice of scholar will be made by the Judging Panel in late March 2024 considering:

  1. the scholar’s application form
  2. your feedback on their application form
  3. interview performance.

Although the Judging Panel will attempt to allocate students to all advertised projects, please note this cannot be guaranteed.  It will depend largely on the mix of student applications in that particular year.  (In 2023 around half of the projects we listed received a student).  For this reason, we only ask you for an outline project proposal at this stage which we hope will not take too much time to produce.  If a scholar is allocated to you, we will expect them to work with you to produce a full project proposal before summer 2024.

Your input into the selection process

You, as project supervisor, will input into the selection process in the following ways:

  • Answering questions by email from prospective applicants to your project / the scheme.
  • Choosing the three key criteria for the project which must be demonstrated on the scholar’s application form.
  • Shortlisting the applications received in February 2024 and making comments.

The Judging Panel will make the final allocation of scholars to projects, taking into account feedback from the project supervisor.

Cost reimbursement for successful projects

If your project is selected and a scholar is allocated to it, you will have up to £625 available to you per student on a reimbursement basis to cover any costs such as:

  • travel
  • accommodation at conferences
  • fees
  • equipment or any other reasonable cost
  • hiring a research student to assist with supervision.

Scholars receive a bursary which covers their accommodation and living costs, so they will not place any additional costs on your project.

How much time you're expected to commit

Each project is different, but you will need to allow time for:

  • Proposing an outline project for a scholar to undertake (this can be notes towards a project at this stage)
  • Answering questions via email from potential applicants
  • Shortlisting applications
  • If allocated a Laidlaw Scholar, working with the scholar to produce a full project plan before summer 2023
  • Supervising the scholar over the summer project.  We ask that you undertake a minimum of three supervisions – at the start, middle and end.
  • Advising the scholar concerning their second year's project where appropriate. 

The second year

Most Laidlaw Scholars will spend their second summer undertaking a Leadership In Action project unrelated to their first summer research project.  For this reason most research projects will only run for one summer.

However, there is an option to apply the research from Summer 1 in the context of helping an underprivileged community in Summer 2.  We will ask you on your proposal form whether you see any opportunity to link the first summer research with a second summer leadership project in the community.


Feel free to contact Christopher Cullen, the Programme Manager, with any questions relating to the scheme.