to the British Science Association

We are a registered charity that exists to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering in the UK.


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Our history

The British Association for the Advancement of Science (now known as the British Science Association and previously as the BA) was founded in York on 27 September 1831.

The original purpose of the organisation, expressed through its annual meetings held in different towns and cities throughout the UK was: ‘to give a stronger impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry; to promote the intercourse of those who cultivate Science in different parts of the British Empire with one another and with foreign philosophers; to obtain more general attention for the objects of Science and the removal of any disadvantages of a public kind that may impede its progress.’

Scientists and dinosaurs

Highlights of early meetings include the coining of the term 'scientist', the first use of the term 'dinosaur' (1841), the debate on Darwinism between Huxley and Wilberforce (1860), Joule’s experiments (1840s) and the first demonstration of wireless transmission (1894).

Today, with the increasing professionalisation and specialisation in science the annual meeting, now the British Science Festival, brings people of all ages together to hear about and discuss science and its related issues, and generates enormous media coverage in a media-aware age.

For a summary history read:

A brief early history

The BA at the end of the 20th Century

Excellent general histories can be found here:

The Parliament of Science : the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 / Roy M MacLeod; Peter Collins (1981)

Gentlemen of Science : early years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science / Jack Morrell; Arnold Thackray (1981)