Frequently Asked Questions about the Laidlaw Programme | The Careers Service Frequently Asked Questions about the Laidlaw Programme – Oxford University Careers Service
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I am in my final year of study (graduating summer 2019). Am I eligible to apply?

Undergraduate students in any year of study, including finalists, are eligible to apply to the Laidlaw Undergraduate Research & Leadership Programme. See ‘eligibility’ on the main Laidlaw Programme webpage. You should think carefully about whether you will have time to concentrate on, and meet the demands of, the Laidlaw Programme as well as undertaking your finals. You can discuss this with a member of the Internship Office to ensure that you understand what you’re taking on.

Can I undertake the research project at an institution or company that is not a university?

You may carry out your project at any institution or company that is carrying out world-leading, specialist research in the area of your proposed project. We recognise that this may not necessarily be a university. For the purposes of the Laidlaw Programme, you can undertake your research at:

  • archives
  • specialist libraries
  • commercially operating laboratories or companies
  • museums
  • university departments
  • independent research centres
  • historic or cultural centres.

This list is not exhaustive! The most important factor is that the host institution is the most beneficial and appropriate environment for you to undertake your project, and will provide you with the necessary resources and support for you to advance your research. We might ask you to enlist the help of an academic supervisor here at Oxford or elsewhere, in addition to someone who can supervise you at your host institution, to ensure your project has sufficient academic guidance and rigour.

What does the leadership training programme entail, and what is the level of commitment?

Our leadership programme will build upon your academic learning to develop the leadership skills, knowledge and behaviours you need to succeed. We’ll focus on self-development, engagement with others and organisational context. There will be opportunities to hear how others lead, to reflect upon your own experience and to work with other Laidlaw Scholars to develop leadership solutions. Topics we’ll cover will include:

  • Leadership styles and behaviours
  • Motivation and influencing others
  • Communication and culture
  • Vision development and goal setting

The learning will be interactive and draw on academic theory and good practice from the real world. There will be:

  • Learning days
  • Assignments
  • Group work
  • Mentoring

You will also have an opportunity to network with successful leaders at our speaker events.

The leadership training programme comprises 50% of the Laidlaw Programme and is mandatory for all successful applicants. You must attend all sessions in order to obtain certification by the Institute of Leadership and Management.

The first Laidlaw leadership event is a residential weekend away from Oxford, which will take place from 1-3 March 2019. There will also be a week of daytime training sessions, probably from 11-15 March 2019 (HT9), and there may be other evening and/or weekend sessions. If you have an academic commitment that cannot be rescheduled (e.g. exam, dissertation defence, graduation) that clashes with a training session, you must inform us in advance.

I plan to undertake my research project outside the UK. Can you provide visa advice and support?

The Careers Service cannot advise students on visa processes. You are encouraged to read the Internship Office’s webpage on “Practical advice on work experience abroad”, which has links to further resources and information. If you hold a visa for study in the UK and have a query relating to your eligibility to travel or work outside the UK, you should contact the Student Immigration Team.

All Laidlaw Scholars undertaking their research project outside the UK are eligible to receive up to £2,500 towards travel-related costs, including visas, immunisations, flights and other travel.

Can you put me in touch with a potential host supervisor for my research project?

We encourage applicants to define and develop their own research projects independently. An integral part of developing your research-related skills is identifying and reaching out to new contacts and ‘pitching’ your research to interested parties. We won’t contact potential host supervisors on your behalf but we will provide support for you to do it yourself! See our blog post for top tips on how to communicate with new contacts and links to further resources.

What does an interdisciplinary project involve?

For the purposes of the Laidlaw Programme, an “interdisciplinary” project is one undertaken by a student whose proposed research is situated within two or more departments as defined by the University (see Oxford University: Divisions & Departments). If you will be applying an established technique from one discipline to another, or if you are combining multiple strands of evidence from different areas of study, your project is interdisciplinary.

The online application form includes a section for description of your interdisciplinary initiative. You should state the areas of study or approaches you are combining to undertake your research, and outline the range of methodologies you will be using. For example, you might be applying a technique commonly used in geology to materials; or combining a literature review of historical sources with statistical analysis of current data.

You might need to enlist the help of supervisors from both areas; if so, one supervisor must be designated as your lead supervisor.

What should I include in my personal profile?

The personal profile is your opportunity to tell us why you’re interested in applying to the Laidlaw Programme and how you think you will benefit from it. Tell us about any leadership experience you’ve had to date (this can be from a variety of contexts such as student societies, extra-curricular activities and hobbies, positions of responsibility at school or in your college), and why you think you would benefit from the leadership training programme. What is it about the Laidlaw Programme that interests you and what would you like to gain from it? How do you envision this opportunity contributing to your future plans and goals?

I’m not sure I’ll be able to complete my research project in ten weeks – help!

A key criterion of assessment for your research project is that it can be completed in 8-10 weeks. We recognise that a lab-based project involving various stages of preparation and experimentation has a different pace to a library- or archive-based literature review, and that sometimes meticulously planned projects can run into unforeseen changes or difficulties! When planning your project, try to break it down into stages of 1-2 weeks and identify what you will be doing and what the output will be for each stage. When designing a lab-based project, you should allow some time (1-2 weeks) at the end of your project to write up your results.

Adjust the scope of your project to fit the timescale. Remember – your project can be a pilot phase for a larger piece of research, and the work you produce does not have to be its final product! You might like to use your project to research an idea you could later develop for a dissertation or thesis, or to produce some data that you can incorporate into a larger dataset at another time, or to contribute collaboratively to a bigger project with multiple researchers.

 What does my host supervisor need to do?

Once your host supervisor has agreed to support your project, you should direct them to the Information for Supervisors webpage, where they can find information about their Roles and Responsibilities, and the Supervisor’s Statement of Support. This should be completed and submitted by the application deadline of Monday 7 January 2019. If your host supervisor has any questions about the programme, they are very welcome to email

This information was last updated on 21 August 2018.
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