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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

How to Apply

The Laidlaw Scholarship aims to develop highly talented and motivated undergraduates as global citizens and future leaders and to support them to fulfil their potential and reinvest their skills in way that will benefit others.

The scholarship offers up to 25 places at Durham each year. In addition to working alongside leading academics on a research project, you will undergo a bespoke leadership development programme and have access to placements where you can put your leadership skills into operation in a way that contributes to various global communities.

Each scholar will received a stipend payment of £6,000 (£3,000 per summer).

In summer one, all scholars will undertake one research project where you will develop, pursue and report on a research question with a research supervisor. This project will be defined by you giving you the opportunity to explore a research area which you are passionate about.

The second summer of the programme involves a number of options whereby you will put your leadership learning into practice for the benefit of others as well as developing your skills through action-based learning.

Options for summer two include (these options may need to be adjusted to adapt to remote working restrictions):

  1. A leadership expedition – in-field voluntary work/expedition within a team of scholars with bespoke leadership training with other Laidlaw Scholars
  2. A placement/internship agreed with the Laidlaw Programme Manager by the end of the first summer period. This experience will have clear goals and outputs specified.
  3. A second research period which includes in-field application of your research project or further development of specified leadership skills.

Places for each option will be limited. We therefore cannot guarantee that you will be able to pursue your first choice.

All aspects of the leadership training programme are compulsory – and initially you will need to commit to being available for a residential training event in June 2021. Please note that as a Laidlaw Scholar you will also be representing both Durham University and the Laidlaw Foundation and will be expected to take on ambassadorial duties as part of your scholarship. These include supporting and mentoring younger scholars or perhaps delivering a talk at a conference/ event and will also include helping with marketing the programme to furture cohorts.

For more information please watch our short information video and look at our information brochure


All undergraduate students in year one of a three year degree programme, or year one or two of a four year degree programme at the time of application are eligible to apply. There are no restrictions on discipline/department, college, nationality or fee status (the programme is not open to visiting students). We particularly welcome applications from those under-represented, including people of minority ethnic origin, people with disabilities, LGBT+ people, and people who attended state schools and/ or are first-generation university students.

Your application to the programme will be assessed through the application form which consists of a personal profile and your research proposal. There will be an interview for shortlisted candidates.

The application form is available now through Pebblepad: Log in with your Durham University username and password. The Laidlaw Application form should be visable on your dashboard (Laidlaw Scholarship in Leadership and Research 20/21)

Your research proposal will be assessed by a panel of internal assessors and academics in a relevant discipline.

To apply for the scholarship you must:

  • Identify a research project which you are interested in.
  • Find a supervisor - this must me an academic memeber of staff. For further help in finding a supervisor please watch this short video with useful hints & tips.
  • Design your research project. Discuss your ideas with your chosen supervisor; your project can be original or related to research that is on-going in the University. If part of a larger research programme your project must be designed to make a specific contribution.
  • Write a research proposal. Your proposal will be assessed by an internal reviewer for the quality of the candidate, project content, and proposed environment hosting the study.
  • If you are interested in applying but are not sure of a research topic you would like to pursue, speak to a member of academic staff who will be able to guide you.

If the academic you speak to would like more information about the Laidlaw Programme, please send direct them to this information video specfically for academic staff.

The research proposal should be no more than one side of A4 and should cover:

  • The research question
  • The objectives of the research
  • A summary of the project in simple terms which can be understood by a non-expert in the field

What you need to do now:

  • Complete the application form which will be available on your Pebblepad dashboard: this includes the personal profile, which should be used to tell us more about yourself and your motivations for applying for the Laidlaw Programme.
  • Confirm the support of a supervisor. Ask them to complete the statement of support form which is part of the application form.
  • Applications close at Midnight 17th January 2021

We will be holding a number of drop-in workshops this term to help support you in the development and completion of your application. Please click on the relvent links below during the times stated