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A photo of students learning to work together as a team

The Programme

The Laidlaw Scholarship builds on Lord Laidlaw’s inspiring vision to create an international network of diverse, passionate and ethical future leaders. The scholarship comprises two main elements: leadership development and a research project.

Leadership Programme

A fundamental element of the scholarship is to provide students with the knowledge and skills vital to becoming future leaders in their chosen fields. Laidlaw Scholars will attend a number of leadership development activities resulting in a leadership qualification award by the Chartered Management Institute.

This will include a tailored development plan based on observation and feedback on your leadership skills and an online leadership diagnostic.

A three-day residential leadership programme will take place on 9, 10 and 11 July 2021. This will focus on:

  • Exploring personal values and preferences
  • Leadership styles
  • Personal development planning
  • Research methods and project management.

A second three-day programme will take place in March 2022 and will include engagement with the local community and team and organisational learning.

Additional leadership activities will be incorporated throughout the programme.

You can see a group of Laidlaw Scholars on some of their community project work:

Research Project and Leadership in Action

Students selected for the 2021 Laidlaw Scholarship will undertake a period of funded research, for 5-6 weeks. The research period will take place in the summer of 2021.

Students must identify a unique research theme and discuss it with an academic supervisor who can mentor them through the project.

The idea should be original and not be part of an existing or ongoing research project at the University, nor part of any work submitted towards the student’s degree. Ideally such projects will relate in some way to the York Research Themes and may contain cross disciplinary elements.

The research project proposal must be submitted as part of the student’s application along with a statement of support submitted by the chosen academic mentor. This information will be verified so please make sure that you have spoken to your academic mentor in advance of submitting your application.

Please indicate in your proposal how your project could be carried out remotely to the University, if required due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Leadership in Action

In the second summer scholars will have the opportunity to put their leadership skills and attributes into practice. Scholars can choose from a number of options including a charity expedition in a developing country (see below), a leadership placement or in-field application of their research to bring about positive change to the area of study.

Leadership expedition

The second summer provides an opportunity for some Laidlaw Scholars to join an international expedition and to volunteer for four weeks in a developing country. Past expeditions have included working with local educators in Fiji through the Think Pacific scheme and supporting community building and education projects in Tanzania with Raleigh.

Be at the heart of change, work with local people to find solutions to tackling problems. Take on new challenges and develop skills that will stay with you for life.

You will live with a host family and work with a local community for roughly 20 days on a project that deals with essential issues such as improving water and sanitation plus improving health awareness through education.

You will develop and apply your leadership skills, cultural awareness, resilience and see the power of team effort. As a truly global citizen you will experience remote cultures in stunning environments and learn more about yourself in four weeks than you would have thought possible.

The Team Leaders will maximise your learning in this immersive experience by holding team reviews, de-briefs and coaching. This will help you develop further skills in leadership, teamwork and active citizenship, develop resilience and review your aspirations.

The programme will closely connect with the Laidlaw Attributes Framework.

Please note that the delivery of these experiences is dependent upon the Coronavirus pandemic and if not available due to travel restrictions we will work with the Foundation to offer alternative programmes.


Successful applicants will be asked to write up their research in the form of a report or poster, complete an assignment for the CMI qualification (which will be based on their learning on the scholarship), and complete a final report for Lord Laidlaw on their experience of the programme and the impact it has had on them.

Scholars will also be expected to showcase their work at a bespoke celebration event and will have the opportunity to present their research at a public event.

We ask scholars to act as ambassadors for the programme, which may involve mentoring future scholars and promoting the programme to peers and to keep us updated on what they go on to achieve.