Important dates

  1. Applications open on 24 November 2023 and close at midnight on 5 February 2024
  2. Interviews will be held in early March
  3. Students will be notified of the outcome of interviews by mid-March.
  4. Successful applications will be invited to a welcome event in April

We will contact all applicants via email about their application outcome.

Applications will be open from 24 November; the deadline for applying is midnight on 5 February 2024.

The application process

The application process can be divided into three steps:
1. eligibility and agreeing to honour the Scholar Commitment
2. identifying and designing the project (including gaining support from an academic to supervise you on this project) and outlining your leadership aims
3. completing the online application.

Please make sure that you read the application instructions carefully and allow yourself enough time to complete each of the steps:

  • On the application form you will have to answer the following questions, so please prepare answers to them in advance (you can copy and paste) as you will have to fill in the application form in one sitting:
    1. Motivations: What motivates you to want to join this programme? What particular qualities do you bring with you, and how do you plan to apply these qualities in the programme? (max. 250 words)
    2. Expected Outcomes: What benefits do you expect to derive from this leadership and research programme, and how do you intend to apply what you will learn in your future life for the good of the world? (max. 250 words)
    3. Research Proposal: Please describe what your project will be about and how it relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (written for a non-technical audience – max. 250 words)
    4. Leadership in Action: As a Global Citizen, what environmental or societal issues would you like to address in your Leadership in Action project? (max. 250 words)
  • Once you have completed the Application Form, please send your CV and Supervisor's Supporting Statement to: 

Please note: When you apply for the programme, you will be expected to complete the whole programme; you cannot complete only the research summer project or Leadership in Action experience.

If you have any questions that are not answered on the website and accompanying application documentation or need further clarification, please contact Yvonne Aftyka, Programme Manager at 

Scholar eligibility and commitment

Eligible to apply

  • All undergraduate students in year one of a three-year degree programme.
  • All undergraduate students in year one or two of a four-year degree programme at the time of application.
  • There are no restrictions on discipline/department, nationality or fee status.
  • We particularly welcome applications from those under-represented, including people of minority ethnic origin, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, and people who attended state schools and/ or are first-generation university students.

Ineligible to apply

  • Students whose final year of study is not in Imperial.
  • General degree (part-time evening) students.
  • Incoming study abroad students.

All scholars will commit to:

  • Attend all leadership development activities.
  • Live within a commutable distance from campus in order to benefit from the community of scholars’ events. 
  • Keep the central Laidlaw program informed of their career developments in future years via the Laidlaw Scholars Network.
  • Write a short (max. 3,000 words) report on the research and leadership learning and outcomes from their overall experience as a Laidlaw scholar.
  • Produce a poster which can be used to explain their research project to different audiences.
  • Participate in their overall programme by providing details of their research, by acting as a mentor to incoming scholars, and by using the Laidlaw Scholars Network to connect and collaborate with a growing global community of scholars and alumni, their supervisors and College coordinators.

Identifying and designing the project

Next, students will identify and design their project (including gaining support from an academic to supervise them on this project) and outline their leadership aims.

The research topic can be selected from:

  • A list provided by the College (please see "Projects and Supervisors" tab)
  • Self-proposed (with a confirmed academic supervisor)

Once you have identified a research project in which you are interested, applicants must:

Once you have identified a research project which you are interested in, applicants must:

Find a supervisor

This must be an academic member of staff. If you are proposing your own project, you will need to find a member of academic staff who will be willing to support your application and supervise you throughout the 6-week summer project. The Supervisor can be external to the College; in such cases Scholars will be matched to an additional Imperial “internal” Research Supervisor who can serve as an institutional faculty point of contact and guidance. You do not need to identify your own academic supervisor if you are applying to the academic proposed projects.

When approaching a potential supervisor, please explain what your project will be about, how much time commitment will be required from you and from your supervisor and what their responsibilities will be (in your email you can include the link to this page, to "Information for Supervisors" section) 

Design your research project

If self-defined, we advise that you seek advice and discuss your ideas with your chosen supervisor in the first instance; your project can be original or related to research that is ongoing in the College. If you are applying against a listed project, you must take the outline of the project given and provide more details on what you intend to do with that project proposal, in line with the questions set out in the application form.

Write a research proposal

Your proposal will be assessed by an internal reviewer for the quality of project content and potential outputs and viability for the 6 week timeframe given. Those applying with a self-defined project are advised to seek support in formulating and presenting their ideas from their chosen supervisor.

Check ethical approval

Check whether your proposal would require ethical approval. You should factor in additional time for this (it can take months to obtain approval). You must have approval in advance of your start date, as a project without ethical approval (where required) cannot go ahead.

Get academic support statement

Before you apply you will have to obtain from your supervisor an "academic support statement" (it can be a short letter or an email) to confirm that they are happy to supervise you and support your application to the programme. It will be your responsibility to acquire it and send it to the Laidlaw Scholars Programme Manager.

Projects and Supervisors


The list of Research Projects proposed by the Academics and Project Supervisors - 2024 cohort

The applications are now closed and all the projects have been assigned to students.






Application process

The application will be open from 24 November 2023 to midnight on 5 February 2024 and will require the submission of:

  • An application form that describes:
    • What the research project will be
    • How this project fits into the SDG context
    • How your interests align with those of your Research Supervisor
    • Why this research is important
    • What qualifies you to be a leader in sustainable change processes
    • Why you think you could become a good leader
    • Where you have shown leadership qualities in past
    • Perspectives on the importance of a) research b) ethical leadership and c) being a global citizen
  • A resume or CV
  • The Research Supervisor’s Supporting Statement

Before they apply, Students will communicate with potential faculty Research Supervisors to articulate their project. The Leonardo Centre will be available to help guide students on the application process.

Shortlisting and selection

The Selection Committee will select shortlisted candidates for face-to-face interviews by the end of February. In-person interviews are provisionally scheduled to take place between March 1 and 15, 2024.

Applications will be assessed on:

  • The viability of the research project within a 6-week period.
  • The potential for leadership and commitment to make a positive change to the community they live in and build a better world.
  • The student’s commitment to ethical leadership.
  • The extent to which the student can envisage how their research could be applied or the impact it could have.
  • The student’s academic record and any record of activities indicating leadership potential.
  • The Research Supervisor’s supporting statement.
  • The student’s understanding of the Laidlaw values.
  • The student’s enthusiasm for being an active member of the Laidlaw community.
  • The fit with the SDG umbrella of the project.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to undertake a short face-to-face interview. If you are shortlisted, you will receive further details about this by email.

Notification will be delivered to selected Laidlaw Scholars by 20 March. Successful applicants will receive a formal agreement noting their reward and their commitments as members of the programme. The list of new Cohorts will be sent to the Laidlaw Digital and Content Manager so that they can be invited to the Scholars Network.

Their completion of the programme will be celebrated in October/November 2025.

Information for supervisors

Students may be approaching academic staff to supervise their research projects for the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme.

The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme sponsors scholars in 17 leading universities around the world. It is designed to create a new generation of leaders who care about solving intractable social and environmental sustainability problems, who behave with integrity and are determined to make the world a better place.
Up to 25 scholarships are awarded to students at Imperial in their first year of a three-year undergraduate degree programme or first or second year of a four-year undergraduate degree programme.
Projects are encouraged to have an international dimension – e.g. a focus on another country or contain a global element. This may include an opportunity to spend all or part of the research period in an overseas university or placement. The projects also must aim to tackle one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Expected outputs from the research project include a journal, article, poster, research presentation, or other intellectual outputs linked to the targets of one or more of the 17 SDGs.
The scholarships aim to create an international network of diverse, passionate and ethical leaders who will reinvest their skills, knowledge and experience to help build a regenerative society on a flourishing planet.
To date, more than one thousand scholars have completed the programme all over the world. 

Laidlaw Supervisors

By becoming a Laidlaw Supervisor at Imperial, 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 undergraduate student, you can propose it by email:  

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

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, fees, equipment or any other reasonable cost.
Scholars receive a stipend which covers their accommodation and living costs, so they will not place any additional costs on your project.

Responsibilities and how much time you are expected to commit

A typical six-week research project would anticipate a time commitment of an average of 15 hours. 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:
1. Designing a project brief in consultation with the student – setting out weekly targets, resources and milestones related to attending the research site each week throughout the six-week research project.
2. 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 equivalent if the project work is not campus based.
3. Providing appropriate levels of supervision. This should include a minimum of a formal face to face meeting at the start and end of the project, as well as weekly contact by telephone, email, Teams or Skype to check academic progress and personal wellbeing.
4. Setting clear tasks, deadlines or timelines for the Scholar over the summer research period.
5. Ensuring 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.
6. Signing off the end of research reports or other submissions from the Scholar.

Each project is different, but you will need to allow time for:
1. Answering questions via email from potential applicants.
2. Shortlisting applications.
3. If allocated a Laidlaw Scholar, working with the Scholar to produce a full project plan before summer 2024.
4. Supervising the scholar over the summer project. 
5. Advising the scholar concerning their second year's project where appropriate.

Some of the benefits of becoming a Research Project Supervisor include:
1. An opportunity to support and mentor ambitious and proactive students.
2. An opportunity to select the very best undergraduate students who can make a genuine contribution to your research.
3. The chance to accompany your students to a celebration event which will be organised for all Imperial Laidlaw scholars.
4. The chance for you, your students and the department to be featured in profile-raising opportunities during the programme.  

We have scheduled an Information Session for Supervisors
Thursday 23 November, 17:00 - 18:00,
Zoom Meeting

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme at Imperial please email 

Frequently Asked Questions


Q1: What if I don't have any research experience?
A: You don’t have to have research experience. The programme is designed for undergraduate students with very little or no research experience. 

Q2: What if I can't think of my own research project?
A: There are projects suggested by Imperial College academics. You can choose a project you feel passionate about from the list of these projects. 

Q3: What is the application process like? What does it involve?
A: The first part is submitting the application form (all the questions are available on the website, so you can prepare your answers before you apply), and the second part is the interview.

Q4: Which years are we eligible to apply in?
A: The programme starts in April 2024 and lasts 18 months, you still need to be an undergraduate student when you finish it, so depending on your faculty and what you are studying, you will have to be a first-year or first-year/second-year student.

Q5: Is there an alumni community within the Laidlaw Scholars programme?
A: Yes, there is. When you join the Laidlaw Scholars Network, you join a global network of over 1,500 fellow Laidlaw Scholars. This online community provides a dedicated space for Scholars to contribute and collaborate. They publish their research here, can test their thinking, partner on projects and continue their leadership development. MBA scholars and alumni share career questions, advice and opportunities. Leading academics post their latest papers and thought leadership.

Q6: What if I don't have an impressive CV - will this disadvantage us?
A: No, it will not. We will be assessing applications based on students’ potential, not their achievements. Every undergraduate student with a good idea for a project and leadership potential has a chance, so we strongly encourage you to apply.

Q7: Does the summer research have to take place at the same university? I am an Imperial student, but could I undertake an internship at another university as part of the Laidlaw programme?
A: You cannot undertake an internship as part of the Laidlaw programme, but you can do a research project at another university or another faculty. You just need to find a supervisor there.

Q8: Is the Leadership in Action 6-week project in the second summer online or in person?
A: It is in person, often done abroad, either with a group of other Laidlaw Scholars or alone if it is self-proposed.

Q9: How does using a supervisor’s project work?
A: When you choose a project from the list provided by Supervisors, you will need to contact the Supervisor and discuss that project with him/her before you apply.

Q10: For Imperial, would the proposed projects be more focused towards STEM-related ones rather than other types of projects?
A: In theory – yes, in practice – it depends on your project, it doesn’t have to be STEM-related, as long as you have an academic willing to supervise you.

Q11: If you travel abroad, is that reimbursed? Is travel costs reimbursement separate from the stipend?
A: If you have to travel abroad while doing your project, your travel expenses will be reimbursed, but they have to be reasonable (no first-class tickets for example). If you have to pay for accommodation, that will be covered by your stipend.

Q12: Would we be allowed to undertake the research project for longer than 6 weeks if we wish to and have found additional funding?
A: Research projects should be done in approximately 6 weeks.

Q13: I am currently in my second year of a 4-year course, but my 4th year will be abroad at a different university. Am I still eligible?
A: Students whose final year of study is not at Imperial are not eligible because if there are any in-person events, workshops etc. they need to attend them in person.