How we were chosen for the BP Scholarship Programme

About the BP Scholarship Programme

This academic year brings the fourth cohort of Durham students into the BP Scholarship programme which now supports around 280 students across a number of UK universities. Starting as a STEM only scholarship, BP have this year extended the programme to include a number of select Business/Management and Economics courses; reflecting the range of opportunities they have for both students and graduates. Students are selected for the programme based on academic success, extracurricular involvement and alignment to the BP values, such as ‘One Team’ or ‘Excellence’. Through the programme, BP support scholars financially (offering them each £5,000 for each year of their degree) as well as providing access to exclusive events that give insight into the energy industry and different roles within it. Alongside this, should they wish to apply to an internship or graduate role further down the line, their Scholarship status will allow them to fast track to the face-to-face interview stage, saving time and bi-passing some of the initial stages of selection.

Rachel’s story


I chose to study Maths at University because I always really enjoyed the challenge the subject provided. However, no matter how much enjoyment unprovable problems gave me, I always struggled to see where my hobby would fit into a career that wasn’t research orientated. However, something I have learnt since coming to Durham University, is that employers love our analytical minds and dogged persistence, but maybe not our ability to differentiate from first principles!

There are a number of scholarships on offer at Durham University and this was something I had researched before coming here. I had done well in my A-Levels and wondered if I could get any formal recognition for my grades through a scholarship programme.

I did a lot of research online and there was only one I was eligible for but the opportunity literally jumped out of the computer screen at me when I first came across it! The web page was advertising the BP Scholarship programme. It was a programme particularly targeted at STEM students in addition to some Business and Economics subjects students who had excelled academically, in extracurricular activities and displayed BP’s core values of excellence, respect, safety, courage and one team.

Asides from fitting the criteria, I applied to the BP Scholarship for three further reasons. I’d always had an interest in the energy markets and what better an opportunity to get involved, I’d heard that BP were an amazing company to work for and this was my first step through their door and finally, the financial reward was substantial. This would enable me to focus on my studies and not worry about finances whilst here in Durham.

I spent hours perfecting my initial application which consisted of a series of questions about my achievements to date, why I chose to study Maths at University and what I was most looking forward to about my course. We had to wait what seemed like a long time to hear the result of our initial application but in actual fact we heard if we’d made it through to the next round within 2-3 weeks. The next hurdles to overcome were two online aptitude tests, which I was apprehensive about at first, however once I’d done a couple of practise tests I realised if I stayed focus in the real thing, I should be OK.

Being confident in my abilities but also measured in my approach meant that I scored highly in these two tests and I was shortlisted for the final round of the application; an interview with a member of the BP graduate recruitment team on campus. I was so excited to have come this far but very, very nervous as all of the other students who had got to this stage were equally deserving, and I knew it would all come down to my performance in the interview.

I dedicated a lot of time preparing for this interview, convincing my friends to do mock interviews with me and learning as much as I could about BP. I never feel adequately prepared for an interview no matter how many hours of prep I’ve put in and this time was no exception.

I was a bundle of nerves on the day, however the representative from BP who interviewed me was very calming and reassuring which made for a much more relaxed interview than I was expecting. It went by in a flash. I was in there for almost an hour but it felt like 5 minutes. It was hard to tell how it had gone, however I felt I had said everything I had wanted (from what I could remember).

We waited 5 weeks before hearing the outcome of the interview because, as I mentioned, it is a UK-wide scholarship for select universities and BP had to interview the candidates at all of the universities before a decision was made.

These 5 weeks felt like a very long time, I was constantly checking emails, forever hopeful I’d see a congratulatory message from BP pop up in my inbox. However, weeks went on and it never came.

I was walking out of a Dynamics Lecture one Thursday evening and glanced down at my phone to see a missed call from an unknown number and a 30 second voicemail waiting to be opened.

My heart started to race.

My sixth sense told me that this recorded message would contain the result of my application. I opened the voicemail and the man who had interviewed me from BP started to speak, informing me that I had been chosen for the BP Scholarship programme and congratulating me on my success.

I started to cry as I heard the news walking back to college, getting strange looks from passers-by, but I didn’t care. The tears were happy tears and my goal I’d set myself at the start of the year had become a reality.

Rachel Hanley

Rachel Hanley

My name’s Rachel Hanley and I’m a first year student at Hild Bede College and I am studying Maths. I often put my Maths skills to good use as an Exec member of the Finance Society. I’m a BP Scholar and I play hockey for the University’s 2nd XI team.
Rachel Hanley

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