About the Laidlaw Scholars Programme | The Careers Service About the Laidlaw Scholars Programme – Oxford University Careers Service
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About the Laidlaw Scholars Programme

The Laidlaw Scholars Undergraduate Research & Leadership Programme was launched at the University of Oxford in 2016, building upon Lord Laidlaw’s visionary commitment to supporting undergraduate student development and education.

The Laidlaw Scholars Programme equips undergraduate students with research and leadership skills to help them pursue their academic and professional aspirations beyond their current course of study.

Research & leadership training

The Programme comprises two mandatory elements:

  1. A leadership programme, completion of which is likely to lead to an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualification
  2. A research project of between 8 and 10 weeks’ duration, designed and defined by the student, at any world-leading research institution.

Successful applicants will receive a stipend of up to £6,000 to facilitate their research project. Students undertaking placements at research institutions outside the UK may claim up to a further £2,500 towards travel-related expenses. Additional funding (up to £1,000) is also available to meet lab-based research expenses that cannot be covered by the host institution.

Project presentations

On completion, we hold an event where scholars informally present the results of their research to senior figures in the University, representatives from the Laidlaw organisation – and undergraduates interested in becoming the next Laidlaw scholars! You can read about previous scholars’ projects on our Laidlaw Scholars Profiles page, and see photographs from our 2017 event below.

Eligibility

All matriculated University of Oxford students currently enrolled on an Undergraduate degree course (including 4-year courses) are eligible to apply. There are no restrictions on discipline/division, college, year of study, nationality or fee status. The programme is not open to Visiting Students.

What are the aims of the Programme?

The aim of the Laidlaw Scholars Programme is to equip undergraduate students with the necessary research skills and leadership skills to help them fulfil their ambitions beyond their course of study, whether they intend to pursue a career in research or in another sector. We are looking for ambitious and self-motivated individuals who have the capacity to design and carry out an original research project, and to commit to developing their leadership skills, knowledge and behaviours through the leadership training element of the programme. For an idea of what our 2017 cohort of Laidlaw Scholars achieved, the University of Oxford  Laidlaw Scholars Programme Yearbook contains the scholar profiles, research posters and advice for those thinking about applying.

The leadership programme is accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and focuses on self-development, engagement with others and organisational context. You will learn about how others lead, reflect on your own experience and work with others to develop leadership solutions. On successful completion of the programme you will receive a formal qualification from the ILM.

Key dates

Applications for the 2019 programme will open in Michaelmas term and close on Monday 7 January 2019 (0th week).

Interviews will take place on Wednesday 23 January 2019 (2nd week).

Leadership training sessions will consist of learning days, assignments, group work, mentoring and network events. A residential weekend will take place outside Oxford from 1 to 3 March 2019, and a week of compulsory training sessions will be held at the Careers Service – dates TBC but likely to be 11 to 15 March 2019 (9th week). There may be additional evening or weekend sessions as necessary. Successful applicants are required to attend all training sessions. 

The research project will take place during the Long Vacation (23 June – 12 October 2019), for between 8 and 10 weeks, on dates to be agreed between the student and the host institution.

How do I apply?

First steps

  • Read the Notes of Guidance which will help you understand the programme and how to approach your application.
  • Design your research project. Identify a project of your choice and approach potential supervisors in the host institution/s of your choice. We encourage you to make full use of your academic networks within and beyond Oxford (supervisors, lecturers, course-mates, departmental and college contacts) to source a placement that will be high-quality, relevant to your proposed research project, and add value to your existing academic studies. You should define an original project which should not be part of, or contribute to, an existing ongoing project (e.g. an existing project already underway at the host institution); however, you are encouraged to build on the knowledge and experience you have already acquired through your academic studies.
  • Confirm the support of your host supervisor. Ask your host supervisor to read the Information for Supervisors, and to complete the online statement of support.
  • Write a research proposal. This must be done according to the template given in the online application form. Your proposal will be assessed by an external reviewer for the quality of the candidate, project content, and proposed environment hosting the study. You are encouraged to seek the assistance of relevant departmental and college contacts in designing your research proposal, and to refer to the notes of guidance provided with the online application form.

How to apply

  • To apply to the 2019 Laidlaw Scholars Programme, you need to go to the Programme’s page on CareerConnect.
  • Alternatively, log into CareerConnect and go to ‘Programme list’ under the Internship Office and Skills Programmes tab. Select ‘The Laidlaw Scholars Undergraduate Research & Leadership Programme’ from the list on the left-hand side of the page. You can then click on ‘Find out more’ – this allows you to register interest in the Programme, or click through to the page for the 2019 Laidlaw Scholars Undergraduate Research & Leadership Programme.
  • Click on ‘Apply Now’ and follow the instructions provided.
  • See pages 16-20 in our comprehensive Guide to using CareerConnect for further information.

Don’t forget that the Internship Office runs Application Support sessions for applicants to the Laidlaw Programme. These sessions take place at the Careers Service and can be booked via CareerConnect.

  • Complete the application form. This includes the personal profile, which should be used to tell us more about yourself and your motivations for applying for the Laidlaw Scholars Programme. Make sure you read the Notes of Guidance.
  • Submit the application form. You will receive immediate confirmation of receipt of your application. Shortlisting of applications will take place after the closing date of Monday 7 January, and applicants will be notified by Friday 18 January whether or not they have been invited to interview.

Once you’ve applied

Your application to the programme will be assessed through the online application form (consisting of a personal profile and your research proposal) and, for shortlisted candidates, an interview (consisting of a three-minute presentation on your research project and a fifteen-minute interview focusing on your leadership potential, suitability and motivations for the programme).

Your research proposal (50% of application assessment) will be assessed anonymously by a panel of internal assessors and external academics in a relevant discipline, on a scale of ‘unsatisfactory’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ according to the following criteria:

  • The originality and contribution of the project to existing scholarship
  • Evidence of your ability to undertake the project
  • The feasibility of the proposed project (can it be completed in 8-10 weeks?)
  • The suitability of the host institution for your research project

Shortlisted applicants will then be invited for interview by an internal panel, during which your leadership potential (50% of application assessment) will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Evidence of your personal commitment to the Laidlaw programme and your motivations for applying
  • Your academic and professional aspirations beyond your course of study – how would participation in the Laidlaw Scholars Programme help you?
  • Evidence of teamwork, participation, and/or leadership – this can be from a wide variety of activities, e.g. drama, sport, music, student societies, journal clubs

During the interview you will also be asked to give a three-minute presentation on your proposed research project.

Further resources

Laidlaw Scholars Programme presentation:

If you missed the presentation that introduced the Laidlaw Scholars programme in Michaelmas 2017, download it now!

Laidlaw Scholars Yearbook:

The 2017 Laidlaw Scholars Yearbook provides an insight into the scholars’ research projects and the institutions these were carried out in, as well as an insight into the daily life of a researcher – and any advice for those considering the programme!

Register your interest:

To receive news and alerts about the Laidlaw Scholars Programme, including details of events and application support sessions, make sure you register your interest on CareerConnect.

Read the Notes of Guidance:

  • Make sure you’ve read the Notes of Guidance as these will tell you more about the programme and will help you complete your application form.

Help with your personal profile:

Help with your research proposal:

  • The Vitae website has a wealth of resources on designing and doing research
  • findaphd.com offers helpful advice on writing research proposals
  • View the course page of a relevant Oxford degree (e.g. MPhil or DPhil) to find out how applicants’ research proposals are structured and assessed during the admissions process
  • Ask your supervisor, a DPhil or post-doctoral student, or another departmental contact for feedback
  • Make an appointment to see a Careers Adviser for feedback on your research proposal and personal profile
  • Read our sector briefing on Academia and Higher Education to find out more about the skills needed to undertake successful research
  • Find out what previous Laidlaw Scholars did by taking a look at our Scholar Profile Pages.
Interdisciplinary research projects

We encourage applicants to submit interdisciplinary research projects. Interdisciplinary projects may be undertaken within different departments at the same host institution, or across two or more institutions. For the purposes of the Laidlaw Scholars 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). The departments in question may belong to the same Division or to different Divisions.

Further information about interdisciplinary initiatives can be found in the Notes of Guidance accompanying the Laidlaw Programme application form.

If you would like to develop an interdisciplinary research project, but are unsure how to do so, we will work with you to produce an appropriate proposal and point you to further resources. Once you have developed some ideas about a potential project, contact us at laidlaw@careers.ox.ac.uk to arrange a meeting.

This information was last updated on 17 August 2018.
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