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The Scholars Programme takes highly talented doctoral candidates from across Europe who are committed to making Europe a better place and equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to become leading figures in their chosen fields. It deepens their understanding of policy making in Europe, key European institutions, ethical leadership, and the key issues of the day.

The programme is structured so that there is progression through the leadership, ethical, and training strands, as well as enabling organic group project development. The amount of project work per module increases proportionately as the programme progresses. On completion there may be possibilities for group projects to be published or presented to international bodies.

It is a demanding programme. Successful applicants are expected to attend all modules in full and so potential applicants should make sure they know about the commitment that this programme requires.

Programme outline, 2024-2025

Year One

  1. Oxford (11-14 March 2024)
    Introduction to Europe, Leadership, & Societal Problems
  2. Brussels (24-27 June 2024)
    European Institutions & Policy Making
  3. Budapest (26-29 August 2024)
    Democracy in Europe
  4. Krakow (9-12 December 2024)
    Skills & Project Development

Year Two

  1. Barcelona (either 10-14 or 17-21 February 2025)
    Technology & Policy
  2. Geneva (16-19 June 2025)
    The Transatlantic Relationship and Global Governance
  3. Helsinki & Lammi (11-15 August 2025)
    Intensive Project Retreat
  4. Brussels (13-15 October 2025)
    Scholar Presentations to the Policy World & Europaeum Alumni Gathering

More detail on the topics covered by the first three cohorts can be found below. You might like to read examples of group projects undertaken by the first three cohorts. Our FAQs provide answers to common queries.

An outline of the programme for the first three cohorts of Scholars can be seen below. What will be provided in 2024-2025 will follow a very similar structure. Each module lasts between 3 and 5 days.

You can also read what some of our alumni thought about the programme. From Cohort 3, Hadil Louz, Sašo Gorjanc, and Florence Felsheim all at the University of St Andrews described their experiences of the first year of the Programme. In addition to them, you can read about Keith and Alix’s reflections, both from Freie Universität, Berlin, as well as Iris and Iris’ for the Complutense University of Madrid. Two of our Cohort 2 Scholars, whose experience of the Programme was almost entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, also wrote about their experiences of the Programme: Nils Renard of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and Lukas Spielberger of the University of Leiden.

Overview of modules for Cohort 3 (2022/23):

*Please note that the details below are no guarantee of the same topics being covered again for a future module, as modules and their contents are very much tailored to focus on what is current, the particular interests of the cohort, and the focus of the group projects. We also draw on local expertise. With only 8 modules and more than twice as many member institutions we try to go to as many places as possible, so locations and therefore local resources and expertise will differ and may or may not be repeated in the future.

Module 1

Oxford | March 2022
This module provided an overview of key political issues facing Europe, ethical leadership, and bottom-up approaches to policy making.

Plenary sessions on Europe Today; Brexit & Europe; Russia & Ukraine; cultural leadership; consultancy firms and governance in Europe
Talks about citizen science; working to help homeless and gang-affected people; ethics and technology; leadership and legacy
Group discussions on the topics raised in the plenary sessions, , and diversity and multi-disciplinarity in policy making
Workshops with the Oxford Character Project about leadership values; ethical institutions

Module 2

Brussels & Leuven | May-June 2022

This module took Scholars to the heart of EU policy making. It focussed on key policy concerns and learning more about EU institutions from the inside. The Scholars visited several EU institutions and met with a range of policy makers and other stakeholders. Scholars pitched their project ideas to their groups; by the end of the module each group had agreed on the broad area of the project they were going to undertake.

  • Plenary sessions on non-military responses to the war in Ukraine; democracy and the green transition; Europe in the world; the EU institutions post-Covid; the Strategic Compass; the European Green Deal
  • Talks on the conference on the future of Europe; Next Generation EU; enlargement in the Western Balkans; AI and the judiciary; EU citizenship
  • Group discussions about possible projects and the talks attended
  • Visits to the European Parliament; European Commission; and the Vlaamsbrabant provincial office

Module 3

Luxembourg | September 2022

A free and healthy media is a bedrock of democracy. This module therefore examined the relationship between the media and policy in Europe, discussing the legal landscape, main challenges, and the media’s approach to the policy world.

  • Plenary sessions on media law; media pluralism; media freedom; investigative journalism; threats to the media; tackling disinformation; the General Court of the European Union
  • Visits to RTL Headquarters and ALIA, the Luxembourgish media regulator
  • Moot on freedom of speech in the media
  • Training on social media profiles
  • Guided tour of the EU quarter

Module 4

Lisbon | December 2022

This module focussed on project work and professional training to support the development of the Scholars’ projects.

  • Intensive project retreat
  • Training sessions on policy analysis; policy writing; gender mainstreaming; diversity and inclusion in policy making.

Module 5

Bertinoro (University of Bologna) | April 2023

This module examined the state of democracy in Europe. It looked at threats to democratic processes such as dis- and mis-information on social media and rule of law violations, to more positive aspects such as modes of deepening citizen engagement and international democratic cooperation.

  • Plenary talks by Professor Romano Prodi, former Italian Prime Minister and President of the European Commission, and Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis (European University Institute)
  • Panels on populism; digital democracy; rule of law; democracy and foreign policy; elections and social media
  • Discussions of political corruption; threats to democracy in Europe
  • Training session on negotiation skills

Module 6

Geneva | June 2023

During this module the Scholars learned more about aspects of Europe’s place in global governance and key factors affecting the transatlantic relationship.

  • Talks on EU-US- Relations; the impact of the war in Ukraine on transatlantic relations and global governance; migration governance; UNRISD; dispute settlement; trade and environment; the Interparliamentary Union and climate action
  • Visits to the United Nations and World Trade Organization
  • Media training session

Module 7

Lammi & Helsinki | August 2023

During this module the Scholars finalised their policy documents during an intensive writing retreat at Lammi Research Station (University of Helsinki). They also visited NordicWest Office to learn about the world of a business consultancy and think tank.


Berlin | September 2023

The conference focussed on key areas of current EU policy making and showcased the Scholars projects.

  • Keynotes on gender equality in Europe; European leadership; Europe and China
  • Panels on European enlargement; transatlantic relations; the dignity of work; energy transition; democracy and participation; strategic economic autonomy; AI policy and regulation

Modules held for Cohort 2 (2020/21):

Module 1

Online | 2-5 June 2020

A short introductory mini module was held to launch the Programme proper. The purpose of the mini module was threefold: 1) to facilitate the Scholars getting to know and get used to working with one another; 2) to enhance their understanding and thinking about some current issues facing Europe; and 3) to get them to reflect on ethical issues associated with leadership and develop their own views on these topics. To this end, there were five main sessions:

  • A discussion panel on Europe Today with Dr Heather Grabbe (Open Society Foundations), Duncan Robinson (The Economist), and Dr Hartmut Mayer (The Europaeum / University of Oxford) followed by small group discussion
  • A talk on disinformation in elections with Professor Philip Howard (University of Oxford) followed by small group discussion
  • A workshop on killer robots and ethics in warfare followed by small group discussion on the ethics of technology in warfare
  • A workshop with the Oxford Character Project on leading for the public good
  • A small group exercise on multidisciplinarity.

Module 2

Online | 31 August – 3 September 2020

This module was planned for Prague as a hybrid module, but rising Covid case numbers meant it had to move completely online. There were three primary aims: Examine bottom-up perspectives on policy making and how policy impacts on those on the ground; Provide professional training that will be relevant to you as you work on your projects and in your careers in the longer term; Identify project groups and project areas.
Session themes included: citizenship, migration and integration, gang violence, changing social wellbeing and attitudes in the Czech Republic; economic issues, including the likely long-term impact of the EU’s COVID recovery package; anti-racism and diversity.

Group Project Work
The project areas that have emerged are:
• Encouraging diversity in European Institutions (either academic or political)
• Environment and economy
• Misinformation and mental health
• Youth and digital democracy

Module 3

Online | 7 – 10 December 2020

This module had three primary aims:

  • To deepen Scholars’ understanding of EU institutions
  • To deepen Scholars’ understanding of current policy areas and debates
  • For the scholars to make progress on their group project work, including ending the module with a clearly defined project area.


  • A mixture of plenary sessions, workshops and project work
  • Topics: advocacy processes involved in EU policy making; gender mainstreaming; policy issues

Module 4

Online | 22 – 26 March 2021
Rule of Law in Europe


  • Sessions on: Rule of Law in the EU, European neighbourhoods, the role of court, human rights, state capture and corruption.
  • Professional training in policy writing
  • Group work

Followed by two short workshops in April with leading professionals from industry for the group working on transition within the automotive industry.

Module 5

7-11 June 2021
Global Governance

Talks by experts from WTO and the UN; also presentations on: Multilateralism; Private Sector; Global Migration & Health  Governance
Group Work

Module 6

August 2021

A module predominantly focussing on finishing the two page policy brief and 5000 word policy report. Scholars also received media training from Engaging Communications.

Final conference & project presentations

1-3 October 2021
Toledo, Spain & online

Scholars presented their policy recommendations first to the assessors Ben Hall (Financial Times) Maria Joao Rodrigues (FEPS) and Anthony Teasdale (DG EPRS) and then to a broader audience of academics, policy makers and other stakeholders who attended our hybrid conference on Crisis as an Opportunity for Europe?

Modules for Cohort 1 (2018/19):

*Please note that the first cohort commenced the Programme in January. Subsequent cohorts have and will all begin the Programme in the Spring.

Module 1

Oxford | January 2018

The main focus of the module was to provide an introduction to key policy challenges facing Europe, the ethical challenges of leadership, and getting to know one another and working together.

  • Plenary sessions on Europe Today, and Brexit & Europe, Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives on Research Problems, Doughnut Economics, Europe & the World: Perspectives from Brussels.
  • Talks about being an MP/MEP; Empathy; Ethics & Public Policy; Europe: Where Next?
  • Group discussions on the topics raised in the plenary sessions.
  • Workshop with the Oxford Character Project about Altruism and Leadership.

Module 2

Brussels | March 2018

The main focus of the module was getting insights into different European and international organisations based in Brussels and to hear from a range of stakeholders about current policy discussions. Scholars pitched their project ideas to their groups and by the end of the module every group had agreed on the project they were going to undertake.

  • Plenary sessions on Speechwriting and Communication in Europe; NATO; European Security
  • Talks about the UN; Challenges in Europe; Discussion Panel on Migration; Populism
  • Group discussions about possible projects
  • Visits to the European Parliament; International Red Cross Office; House of European
  • History; European Political Strategy Centre; Brussels Town Hall

Module 3

Geneva | June 2018

Module three focussed on three areas: professional skills training, learning more about two key international organisations based in Geneva, and developing the group projects.

  • Talks about the UN and institutional reform; the SDGs; Media branding and online media profiles; Experts/Expertise and the Policy Academic
  • Training sessions on Multilateral Negotiating Skills and Professional Report Writing
  • Group work developing the projects
  • Visits to UN and WTO

Module 4

Leiden/DenHaag | September 2018

Module four also had a strong emphasis on training: this time a mixture of academic and professional training, some of which was linked to the group projects.

  • Plenary Session by Professor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
  • Professional and academic training sessions on Organising an Academic Conference; Media Training; Abstract Writing Workshop; Academic Article Publishing and Videography
  • Group work developing the projects
  • Workshop with the Oxford Character Project on collaborative leadership
  • Visits to Leiden City Hall with talk by the Mayor & Policy-coordinators; International IDEA; Humanity House

Module 5

Barcelona  | January 2019

The talks in this module largely focused on giving voice to those who are affected by policy—those who have sought asylum or those working to help marginalised members of society.

  • Plenary session on Challenges to Democracy in the Twenty-First Century
  • Talks about Policy Making in Theory and Practice; Euroscepticism; Seeking Asylum in Europe; Refugees; Gang-affected Women; Energy Poverty; Challenges of Teaching in Europe’s Political Environment
  • Group work developing the projects. Some groups met with specialists to discuss their project ideas and receive feedback on them.
  • Workshop on Ethical Dilemmas in Leadership
  • Visit to the Catalan Parliament

Module 6

Berlin | March/April 2019

The media landscape has a profound impact on our politics, so this was the focus of module 6.

  • Talks about Media Pluralism in Europe; Social Media and Democracy; The Threat of Corruption to Economic and Political Development and Security; Approaches to online communication and politics; Speechwriting and Politics; A Life in Publishing.
  • Group work on the projects
  • Workshop on Public Speaking
  • Visits to Bundestag and Axel Springer Verlag

Module 7

Prague | June 2019

This module gave us the opportunity to view Europe from further East as well as to re-examine many of the contemporary challenges to democracy.

  • Plenary lecture on Protests for Catalonian Independence and the Spanish response
  • Talks about Youth Engagement with Civil Society; The 2019 EU Elections and the EU Parliament; New Political Parties and a New Changing Attitudes in the Czech Republic; Rule of Law in Europe on EU and European Neighbourhood/perspectives of accession states
  • Group work on the projects. Any groups who had not yet had a chance to receive feedback from an expert in their field had a session with an expert at this module

Module 8

Oxford | September 2019

The final module focused on finalising the project work and providing professional training that helped the Scholars as they began to look beyond their towards their degree and towards the job market. Each group presented their policy recommendation(s) to a panel who assessed which project (or projects) deserved to win the prize sponsored by the Financial Times.

  • Training on aspects of job applications, career planning, grant applications, publishing, and knowledge exchange.
  • Ethical workshop on resisting institutional pressures.
  • Group work finalising the projects and policy recommendations.
  • Presentations by the Scholars to a panel of judges from the policy world