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 2018). 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.

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 for you to advance your research.

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 an opportunity to hear how others lead, reflect upon your own experience and 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
  • Networking speaker events

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. Additionally, 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 2 – 4 March 2018. There will also be a week of daytime training sessions from 12 – 16 March 2018, 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.

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 the Supervisor’s Statement of Support. This should be completed and submitted by the application deadline of Monday 8 January 2018. If your host supervisor has any questions about the programme, they can email

This information was last updated on 01 November 2017.
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Recent blogs about Frequently Asked Questions about the Laidlaw Programme


Blogged by Julia Hilton on April 20, 2018.

Insight into Teaching provides students with the opportunity to spend three days in a school with a full programme of lesson observation, perhaps a chance to try out some teaching and join in with activities, and a pre-placement seminar to get the most out of the placement.

Placements take place over 3 days in 9th week of Trinity term and are available in a range of subjects in secondary, primary & further education, in state-maintained and independent schools across Oxfordshire and elsewhere in the UK. This year the dates are Tuesday 19 to Thursday 21 June.

Applications open in 1st week of term and close on Sunday 20 May (end of 4th week) at midnight.

If you are thinking about a career in teaching then spending time in school is extremely important, not only to help you to decide whether teaching is for you, but also to enhance your teacher training application – whether you are considering a PGCE, School Direct, Teach First or another route into teaching. A participant on the programme last term said:

‘I really enjoyed interacting with students in the lower school, particularly helping students who came to the math’s clinic one lunch time. It was nice to feel useful. I previously was sure I wanted to teach sixth form but I enjoyed this aspect so much I am rethinking this.’

Literary Agency Work Experience – Carole Blake Open Doors Project

Posted on behalf of Blake Friedmann. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on April 20, 2018.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, is a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project will offer ten days of work shadowing at Blake Friedmann’s book agents to a selected applicant over a two-week period, including funding for travel and up to twelve nights’ accommodation in London. The programme, which will run twice a year, will include close mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to be involved in every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent. It is intended that candidates will come away from the project with varied knowledge of working for a leading literary agency, the beginnings of new and essential relationships in the publishing industry, and some excellent experience to include on their CVs.

“Carole offered me my first internship in publishing at Blake Friedman. She was a formidable figure, yet warm and funny. She was deeply encouraging to me as one from a diverse background based on my age, class and race – though it was our mutual love of a great pair of shoes that really sealed the deal!  An unforgettable, truly phenomenal woman.” – Valerie Brandes, Founder & Publisher, Jacaranda Books, and former BFA intern

Carole Blake and the Blake Friedmann team have always placed great value on diversity and openness, in the company’s client list as well as its hiring practices. We aim to build on this foundation and be proactive about drawing from a wider pool of talented applicants who are passionate about books and ambitious about getting a job in publishing.

Read an account of taking part in the project from our first Open Doors intern Ada Igwebu. 

Applications are now open for the Carole Blake Open Doors project and the deadline is 18 May.

Resources and opportunities for early career researchers

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on April 19, 2018.

The Early Career Blog: Specialist careers advice for PhDs and postdocs

Have you had a look at our blog for early career researchers yet? This joint initiative with Cambridge has over 40 posts dealing with topics such as networking, academic applications and getting funding, making it a great resource whether you’re set on staying in academia or looking for fresh pastures. A new post on the blog looking at Non-academic employers’ perspectives on researchers will be of interest to any ECRs who are toying with the possibility of a move beyond academia.

You can browse the range of posts already available at any time, and don’t forget that you can send suggestions for further topics by tweeting them to @EarlyCareerBlog!

The Researcher Consultancy is back!

Following the successful pilot of the Researcher Consultancy in Michaelmas and Hilary terms, we’re delighted to announce that a new round of the programme has now launched! Whether you’re considering consultancy as a longer-term career move, you want to develop key employability skills such as self-management, team working, business and customer awareness, problem solving and communication, or wish to boost your understanding of the commercial sector and gain hands-on experience of tackling real-world strategic problems, this may be a perfect opportunity for you. Whatever your career plans, including further research and academia, participants can benefit significantly from the programme.

So how does it work?

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in small teams, over a 4-month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation. Our clients list includes start-ups, businesses, local and international charities, community organisations, University departments and Government agencies.

Want to know more?

For more information see CareerConnect or contact Lili Pickett-Palmer. The closing date for applications for the Spring-Summer programme is 30 April 2018.

Careers in the Heritage and Museum Sectors

Posted on behalf of Heritage Pathway. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on April 18, 2018.

Careers in the Heritage and Museum Sectors hosted by Heritage Pathway

  • When: Thursday 17 May, 15.00-17.00
  • Where: 3rd Floor Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road
  • Book: Booking is essential for this event

The ‘Heritage Pathway’ is one of seven training pathways offered to graduate students and Early Career Researchers in the Humanities Division. A year-long programme of workshops, site visits and networking opportunities provides the skills and knowledge required to engage successfully with partner organisations in the heritage sector, whether through commercial or research-based collaborations.

Three speakers reflect on their own career paths and offer top tips as to how to develop your career:

  • Emily Knight (Assistant Curator of Paintings, V&A)
  • Dr Danielle Thom (Curator of Making, Museum of London)
  • Dr Jane Eade (Curator, National Trust)

Trinity micro-internships have now launched!

Blogged by Rosanna Mills on April 18, 2018.

It’s the time of year to be thinking about work experience, and to help you on your way our Trinity term Micro-Internship Programme has now launched! If you have a busy academic schedule but you are still looking for work experience, or want to gain some professional skills and extra points for your CV, then look no further. This programme is open to both undergraduates and postgraduates, and here are some of the placements on offer in weeks 9 and 10:

  • Conduct research with the University’s Heritage Partnerships Office for the Hidden Objects Project
  • Gain insight into an independent consultancy and the world of politics with BlondeMoney
  • Hands-on scientific research and analysis with Adapt Immune
  • Assist with the pre-production stage of a film with Daria Martin – Fine Art Films
  • And much more!

Keep an eye out for our sector lists over the coming days!

In brief… What are micro-internships?

2-5 day work experience placements each term during weeks 9 and 10, exclusive to Oxford students (matriculated students are eligible to apply). Although voluntary, host organisations must reimburse local travel and lunch expenses on production of receipts. Full programme information can be found on our Micro-Internship Programme webpage.

How do I apply?

You can view and apply to all micro-internships on CareerConnect, submitting a one-page CV and 300-word personal statement. The deadline this term is midday, Thursday 3 May (please note that this is earlier than usual due to the bank holiday).

Can I get help with my application?

Absolutely! Please see our Internship Office Application Support Document and Employer Feedback on Student Micro-Internship Applications. Up until the deadline, we will be running Application Support Sessions for CV and personal statement advice – view and book on CareerConnect.

Any questions? Get in touch by emailing

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