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Laidlaw Supervisors

By becoming a Laidlaw Supervisor at Durham, you will help up-and-coming curious student researchers with a genuine passion for their research topics to produce original and academically robust, boundary-pushing projects.

Laidlaw Scholars have the freedom and flexibility to delve into topics they would not normally have the chance to explore. This means the dynamic Scholars who join your research team will contribute their fresh, valuable insights and help you execute projects that are more innovative in nature.

All Scholars receive a generous stipend during the programme that financially supports them to focus on their research. As a result, you can be certain that the brilliant Laidlaw Scholars you take on are profoundly motivated and fully committed to their projects and to you as their mentor.

Propose a project

If you have a project which would suit a high-performing first-year undergraduate you can propose it here.  The closing date is Friday 6 October 2023.

The project needs to:

  •  Run for six weeks full-time, completed between the end of June to the end of Sept.  A consecutive 6 weeks is preferred but can be altered by agreement between the supervisor and the student to fit personal and project needs
  •  Be at a level appropriate to a bright first-year undergraduate - stimulating and stretching but approachable

We strongly encourage projects which have an international element (students can claim travel funding).

You will be asked to provide at least three essential criteria which the scholars must demonstrate on their application form.

Once applications have closed for students, you will then be asked to shortlist all the applications for your project. 

The final selection of scholars for each cohort will be made by a Judging Panel, who will consider:

  1. the scholar’s application form
  2. the academic supporting statement or reference
  3. feedback from the academic lead (for pre-defined projects only)
  4. interview performance.

Although the Judging Panel will attempt to allocate students to all advertised projects, please note this cannot be guaranteed.  It will depend largely on the mix of student applications in that particular year. For this reason, we only ask you for an outline project proposal at this stage which we hope will not take too much time to produce.  If a scholar is allocated to you, we will expect them to work with you to produce a full project proposal before summer 2024.

Your input into the selection process

You, as project supervisor, will input into the selection process in the following ways:

  • Answering questions by email from prospective applicants to your project.
  • Choosing the three key criteria for the project which must be demonstrated on the scholar’s application form.
  • Shortlisting the applications received and making comments.

The Judging Panel will make the final allocation of scholars to projects, taking into account feedback from the project supervisor.

Research funds

If your project is selected and a scholar is allocated to it, there are available research funds for you and your student to apply for.  Funds can cover

  • travel
  • accommodation at conferences
  • fees
  • equipment or any other reasonable cost

Scholars will be taken through how they can apply for this in their onboarding induction to the programme.  They must work with you the supervisor, seeking your approval in putting forward their application for research funds to the central Laidlaw team.

Scholars receive a stipend which covers their accommodation and living costs, so they will not place any additional costs on your project.


Academic supervisors are responsible for overseeing the research project to be undertaken by the Scholar in order to ensure that the aims of the study are accomplished.

These responsibilities include:

  • Designing a detailed project brief in consultation with the student – setting out weekly targets, resources and milestones related to attending the research site each weekday throughout the six-week research project.
  • Attending an 30-Minute Research Supervisor Orientation session.
  • Ensuring the Scholar has a daily contact point, normally in the Department where the project is based. This might be a research postgraduate student, an academic colleague, a member of support staff, or an equivalent if the project work is not campus-based.
  • Providing appropriate levels of supervision. This should include a minimum of a formal face-to-face meeting at the start, middle and end of each period of research work, as well as weekly contact by telephone, email or zoom to check academic progress and personal well-being.
  • Setting clear tasks, deadlines or timelines for the Scholar over the summer research period.
  • Ensuring the provision of appropriate campus-based working space and facilities for the duration of the research project and agreeing, in writing, any specific travel or resource arrangements with the Scholar.
  • Signing off the end of research reports or other submissions from the Scholar.

The second year

Most Laidlaw Scholars will spend their second summer undertaking a Leadership In Action project unrelated to their first summer research project.  For this reason, most research projects will only run for one summer.

There is, however the option for scholars to apply their research findings from Summer 1, in the context of helping an underprivileged community and creating impactful change in Summer 2.  We will ask you on your proposal form whether you see any opportunity to link the first summer research with a second summer leadership project in the community. The criteria for this will be outlined in more detail in the project proposal form.

How scholars are selected

Potential scholars applying to the programme can choose a research project either from the university academic proposed list or from one of a number of Laidlaw Foundation partnership projects.  Students also have the option of applying with their own self-defined project, however, they will still need to source an appropriate academic supervisor to support them.

Scholars will apply via an online application workbook within Pebblepad, where they will be asked to:

  • Complete a personal statement consisting 4- 5 leadership based questions, focusing on their leadership interests and potential
  • Project Proposal - consisting of 4-5 questions that allow them to discuss their research project's aims, objectives and potential impact and outcomes.  Questions will also allow the applicant to talk about their specific interests in this research area

Whilst we expect scholars to lead on the completion of their application, we do ask supervisors to look through the project proposal and ensure it is viable for the period of time they have and is academically robust 


Some of the benefits of becoming a Research Mentor include

  • The opportunity to work with and support proactive, talented students as they undertake an original research project;
  • Being part of a network of UK-wide and international mentors, offering opportunities to work collaboratively with other universities
  • The chance for you, your students, and the Department to be featured in profile-raising opportunities throughout the duration of the programme.

If you have any questions about the Laidlaw Scholars Programme at Durham please email