LSE Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme

What is this programme about?

This programme, available to first-year undergraduate students, is about you and your development and preparation for the future. It’s your unique opportunity to develop leadership and research experience and skills beyond your academic studies through practical training and reflection.

Building on LSE’s expertise in social sciences, you will learn to analyse and address wicked problems while reflecting on leadership as a complex and multi-faceted concept. You will have the opportunity to think about and discuss questions of ethical leadership and integrity, explore your individual understanding of leadership, and reflect on the contributions you would like to make as a graduate.

The LSE Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme will help you develop the following competencies: leadership abilities; self-knowledge and awareness; effective communication; critical and creative thinking; collaboration and team working; social and cultural intelligence and awareness; resilience and determination; and research and project management.

How does it work?

The programme takes place over the first two years of your undergraduate degree and is fully funded. Each year has a specific focus:

First year

In the first year, you will complete a fully-funded six-week immersive Leadership-in-Action project which will take place in summer between your first and second year of study. This work-based learning placement will allow you to gain valuable experience and develop relevant leadership skills beyond your programme of study. The project you will be working on will focus on work with a community in need, will take you out of your comfort zone, and will have an international aspect. Appropriate work placements will be provided either by LSE Careers or by the Laidlaw Foundation.

Examples of placements from other institutions include

  • Tufts Laidlaw Scholar Eleanor Cheung worked with the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing to host vaccine clinics and provide educational outreach in immigrant communities across Massachusetts in an effort to reduce disparities in vaccination rates.

  • St Andrews Laidlaw Scholar Yukiko Braun worked with Youth Champs 4 Mental Health, a Fijian organisation advocating for mental health and suicide prevention, through Foundation partner Think Pacific. Yukiko and her team led projects to help foster young Fijians’ wellbeing and raise awareness about taking care of one’s mental health.

Second year

In the second year, you will conduct a fully-funded six-week interdisciplinary group research project that will explore one specific aspect of leadership. This project will take place in summer between your second and third year of study and you will have a supervisor to support you and your peers. You will gain first-hand research experience while deepening your knowledge and reflection in the field of leadership. Working with other Laidlaw Scholars, you will also develop your ability to work in teams towards a shared goal.


In addition to these two six-week projects, you will be attending two residential weekends where you will develop valuable skills and your own thinking about leadership. There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet your fellow scholars during our programme-related evening seminars and events which are designed to help you become part of this dedicated learning community.

Finally, for both, your work placement and the research project you will receive a stipend of £500 per week (that is, a stipend worth £6,000 for the entire programme).

Why should you join?

LSE is a place where you will develop skills and knowledge in the social sciences, but also a place that offers you opportunities to engage beyond your coursework. This programme is a unique opportunity to develop competencies and gain experience that complement your academic studies and that will help you not only while studying at LSE, but well beyond your time at university as you progress in your personal and professional life.

The LSE Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Programme offers you unparalleled opportunities for both your summer breaks in your first and second year; it will take you out of your comfort zone and offer you the opportunity to work with a community in need. You will strengthen your reflective skills and your ability to think about complex problems in a critical and interdisciplinary way, thus complementing the work you will be doing both in your programme of study and in LSE100. You will be part of an engaging leadership learning community at LSE as well as part of the Laidlaw Scholars Network that reaches across many universities around the world.

This programme is designed for first-year undergraduate students and we very much welcome applications from candidates from a diversity of backgrounds and identities and with a wide range of skills and qualifications from all departments across LSE.

How can you apply?

As a first step, you will have to download the application form. As part of your application, you will have to answer three questions. To answer these questions, you will be able to choose one format from the following three options – you can either submit:

  • A text-based application (maximum of 900 words); or
  • A poster that combines text and visual elements (maximum of 600 words); or
  • A video (maximum length: 5 minutes)

The application process is open to first-year undergraduate students and there will be 25 places available. The submission deadline is Friday, 10 December 23:59 (UK time) and you will have to email your application form to the following email address:

LSE is a diverse and inclusive community, committed to fair and equitable treatment. We very much welcome applications from candidates from a diversity of backgrounds and identities and with a wide range of skills and qualifications from all departments across LSE.

How will your application be evaluated?

Your application will be evaluated using the following three criteria:

  • Clarity: Convey your thoughts in a clear and well-structured way – the more specific you are, the more we can learn about you.
  • Content: Share with us your personal reflections about how this programme will help your own personal development – we will value the depth and breadth of your own reflections.
  • Engagement: The three questions are inherently linked with one another. We will value answers that connect with, and build on each other to convey your thoughts about leadership.

How should you go about it?

  • Be yourself! No previous work, leadership, or research experience is required. What we are most interested in is your motivation for taking part in this programme and your personal reflections about leadership.
  • Following on from the previous point, there is no right or wrong answer to any of the questions. 
  • Have someone else look at your application before you submit it – try to avoid grammar or spelling errors.
  • A good application will take time and a few drafts – we suggest you start early and put aside enough time to produce a high-quality application.

Where can you get help?

  • Sign up here for our mailing list where we will send out valuable tips and information about the application process.
  • You can also attend one of the Zoom Q&A sessions which will take place as follows:

    Thu, 28 October, 1-2pm
    Mon, 1 November, 1-2pm
    Thu, 11 November, 1-2pm
    Mon, 15 November, 1-2pm
    Thu, 25 November, 1-2pm
    Mon, 29 November, 1-2pm
    Mon, 6 December, 3-4pm
    Thu, 9 December, 1-2pm

    You can attend these sessions through this link here: To get into the Zoom session, you will have to login to Zoom with your LSE account – please see this link how to do this.

  • LSE LIFE Study Advisers will be happy to support you with your application – for example, they can help you with planning your application or refining your answers. You can book a one-to-one session via this link.

What happens after you submit?

You will be informed by email in week 0 of Lent term if you have been shortlisted – there is no need to contact us for updates.