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How to Apply

Applications for 2023 are now open. You will be able to find the application workbook titled "2022/23 Laidlaw Leadership and Research Programme" on your Pebblepad  dashboard. Log in, using your university username and password. Interested students have until Midnight on 31st January 2023 to complete their application. Please note this is a workbook that can be edited up-until the deadline as we will only review all completed applications after the 31st January 2023. 

The Laidlaw Team and current Laidlaw Scholars will hold information sessions for applicants to ask current scholars questions about their experience on the Laidlaw Programme on the following dates:

  Date Time Location Session Focus
Information Session 1: Thursday, 12 January 2023 5:00 PM-6:00 PM TLC101 Biology and Chemistry 
Information Session 2: Tuesday, 17 January 2023 5:00 PM-6:00 PM TLC117 Economics and Business 
Information Session 3: Thursday, 19 January 2023 5:00 PM-6:00 PM TLC117 Sociology and Politics
Information Session 4:

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

5:00 PM-6:00 PM TLC113 English and Archaeology 


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, LGBTQIA+ people, and people who attended state schools and/ or are first-generation university students.

Application routes

There are three application routes for the Laidlaw Programme:

The research topic can be selected from

  •  A list provided by the University (may continue to be updated through 15-01-2023)
  •  self-proposed (with a confirmed academic supervisor)
  • Durham Partnership project (spanning both years of the programme)- working directly with an external NGO, charity or social enterprise.  These can be found in the same document listed above, or found here.

Stage 1: Application Form

The application comprises of an application form and interview. In some individual cases for those applying against a specific project listed from university academics or foundation partners, there may be an additional selection stage required.

For the application form, you will need to:

  • Identify a research project which you are interested in.
  • Find a supervisor - this must be an academic member of staff. For further help in finding a supervisor please watch this short video with useful hints & tips.

    If you are proposing your own project, or applying to the Durham University Partnership Projects, you will need to find a member of academic staff  who will be willing to support your application and supervise you throughout the 6 week summer project. You will be asked a number of questions about your project proposal on the application form. You do not need to identify your own academic supervisor if you are applying to the academic proposed projects.

  • Design your research project. If self-defined, we advise that you seek advice and discuss your ideas with your chosen supervisor in the first instance; your project can be original or related to research that is ongoing in the University. If part of a larger research programme your project must be designed to make a specific contribution. Watch this video on developing your research proposal. 

    If you are applying against a listed project from academic staff or from the foundation, you must take the outline of the project given and provide more detail on what you intend on doing with that project proposal, in-line with the questions set out in the application workbook. 
  • Write a research proposal. Your proposal will be assessed by an internal reviewer for the quality of  project content and potential outputs and viability for the 6 week timeframe given. A guide to formulating and writing a research proposal can be found here. Those applying with a self-defined project are advised to seek support in formulating an presenting their ideas from their chosen supervisor. 
  • Check whether your proposal would require ethical approval. You should factor in additional time for this (it can take months to obtain approval). You must have approval in advance of your start date, as a project without ethical approval (where required) cannot go ahead.
  • Get an Academic Support Statement or Reference. Those applying with a self-defined project will need to obtain from their supervisor, an "academic support statement" to confirm that they are happy to supervise you and support your application to the programme. Those who are applying against a pre-defined project, either from a university academic or foundation partner will need to get an academic reference. This should be a Durham academic who knows or has taught you personally (but should not be the supervisor of the Laidlaw project you are applying for). The pro-froma for these statements or references are available in the application workbook. It will be your responsibility to acquire these and upload to your application. 

When talking to academic staff about your research ideas and interest in the programme, please direct them to this information video. The video will given them more information on what the programme includes and their required commitments to the role as your supervisor.

Guidance on completing the application form 

Project essential skills- For those applying against a pre-defined academic led project

In their project description, each supervisor has given up to three essential skills which you should aim to demonstrate in the first question of your project proposal section where you are asked to provide a description and outline why you are interested in this project. Try to give specific, clear and concreate examples.  

Application questions

The application questions are divided into two sections:

  1. Leadership and motivation: the panel will seek to see what has driven your application for the programme and how you intend to use it for future success
  2. The research project: the panel will look for enthusiasm for your chosen project, and a well-considered understanding of the research and its potential impact.

Try to keep your answers concise and specific as there is a limited word count for each answer.  

Stage 2: Interview

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to undertake a short online or face-to-face interview.  If you are shortlisted, you will receive further details about this by email.

Self-proposed projects

If you are proposing your own project, you will need to find a member of academic staff to be your supervisor before you apply. You will be asked a number of questions about your project proposal on the application form. You should consider these questions together with your project supervisor. Please give as much detail as you can.  

The panel will be looking for a convincing, logical and well-considered project which fits well into a six-week period. However, the panel will not expect you to have worked out every detail at this stage. 

Check whether your proposal would require ethical approval - you should factor in additional time for this (it can take months to obtain approval). You must have approval in advance of your start date, as a project without ethical approval (where required) cannot go ahead. 

How applications are judged

Once you have submitted your application, it will be considered as follows:

  • Applications are  initially shortlisted by an assessment of the personal statement information provided within your application form.
  • Shortlisted applicants are invited to an online interview
  • The final selection is made by a Panel which considers the application form, interview, academic reference, or supporting statement feedback from project supervisors.

Places on the Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme are awarded on the basis of:

  • leadership potential
  • Interest in making a difference
  • motivation, and
  • academic merit. 

You should aim to demonstrate these elements in your application form.

Important Dates

  • Applications close midnight Tuesday 31st January 2023
  • Interviews will be held on 7th and 8th March 2023
  • Students will be notified of outcome of interviews w/c 13th March 2023
  • Successful applications will be invited to a welcome event w/c 25th April 2023

Please note that dates outlined are subject to change

We will contact all applicants via email of their application outcome.