We are now accepting event proposals for the British Science Festival 2023.

The British Science Festival will take place in Exeter from the 7-10 September 2023, and will be hosted by the University of Exeter.

Anyone can propose an event and the Festival celebrates science in its broadest sense. We are looking for proposals from individuals, researchers, industry professionals, artists, writers, organisations, charities, academic institutions, and more.

Festival proposals should be aimed at non-specialist adults (16+) with a broad interest in science. We are looking for events that showcase cutting-edge science, celebrate the latest developments in science and technology and engage their audience in open discussion about relevant issues that affect culture and society. We aim to programme a range of formats from talks to drop-in activities and creative content that challenges perceptions of what science is and can be.

We anticipate that the vast majority of events in the 2023 programme will use a range of participatory formats, besides talks and lecture-style events, and will take place outside of a traditional lecture-theatre setting.

To submit a proposal for an event please complete the proposal form. The deadline for Open Call applications is 09.00 on 20 February 2023 

Before developing and submitting your proposal, we highly encourage you to read our FAQs, which can be found below.

If you have any other questions, or if you would like to discuss your proposal, please email [email protected] . If you would like to view or download the FAQs as a PDF, please click here.

Please contact us if you would like to view the questions or submit your responses using an alternative format, outside of this platform.

Open Call Frequently Asked Questions

This document provides answers to frequently asked questions about proposing an event for the British Science Festival 2023 and will help you to shape your idea into a successful proposal.   

The FAQ includes guidance about the content and format of events and information on Festival logistics. If you have any other questions, or if you would like to discuss your proposal, please email our festival inbox, and a member of the team will be able to advise on content, format, general Festival-related queries etc.

What is the date and location of the Festival?  

The Festival will take place in Exeter from Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 September 2023 and will be hosted by the University of Exeter.  

What time will my event take place?  

We anticipate the overall programme each day to start as early as 11.00 and finish as late as 22.30. The start time and duration of each event will depend on its format, as well as which part of the wider BSF23 programme it is scheduled under (e.g. daytime events, evening Lates etc).    

What kind of audience should my event be aimed at?  

The Festival is free and open to all, but content should be appropriate for an adult (16+ audience).  

The target audience for the programme is: 

  • non-specialist adults (16+);
  • those with a broad interest in science;
  • and those who may not have an existing interest specifically in science, but might have an interest in the particular topic of an event. 

We continually try to push the boundaries of our audiences and welcome new types of events that attract those who would not typically go to a science festival.    

Please note that the British Science Festival does not provide content for children, schools or families.  

What length should my event be?  

Event duration is flexible depending on the format and we are open to suggestions. We suggest getting in contact with us to discuss your ideas prior to submitting your proposal.  

Do I have to be a scientist to propose an event?  

No, anyone can propose an event and the Festival celebrates science in its broadest sense. We are looking for proposals from individuals, researchers, industry professionals, artists, writers, organisations, charities, academic institutions, and more. 

What kind of content are you looking for?  

We are looking for events that showcase cutting-edge science, celebrate the latest developments in science and technology and engage their audience in open discussion about relevant issues that affect culture and society.  

We’re looking for events that span a diverse range of subjects encompassing science in the broadest sense, promising something for everyone. We are looking for thought provoking events that offer new perspectives on scientific topics and stimulate discussion. Newsworthy content will be viewed favourably. 

What type of events are you looking for?  

In this call for proposals, we are primarily looking for events with more participatory formats that take place outside of a traditional lecture-theatre setting (i.e. talks, panel discussions). Those formats allow us to reach audiences who would not typically go to a science festival.  

We will be able to consider a small number of proposals for talks, only where there is a particular reason why this would be the most appropriate format (e.g. the researcher will be addressing a particularly sensitive subject matter), so please make sure to clearly outline your reasoning if you submit a proposal for a talk.

What do you mean by ‘participatory formats’? 

We welcome proposals for events that allow and encourage festival audiences to engage with content in a variety of meaningful ways, whether by having the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with academics, getting hands on with research through tactile exhibits or interactive workshops, or otherwise immersing themselves in the proposed content. In previous years, festival events have included drop-in activities, fitness classes, creative workshops, musical performances, walking tours and games, as well as many other formats.  

Here are a few examples of different event formats from previous Festivals. 

  • Your brain on music therapy – In this interactive, music-making workshop, which was co-led by neuroscientists and a music therapist, audience members were able to see the impact of music and rhythm on brainwaves through getting hands on with EEG technology, and discussing how these principles are applied in therapeutic settings.
  • The physiological sweetshop – This drop-in, tabletop activity enabled members of the public to chat informally with researchers about how different parts of the body (e.g. heart, lungs and bone) are able to ‘taste’ different flavours, while indulging in some delicious Pick ‘n’ Mix. 
  • When virtual meets reality – This musical performance demonstrated how human live coders can work collaboratively with digital companions to create new and unique music in real time.   
  • Tulsi, or not Tulsi? - Held in a local, historic herb garden, this drop-in activity gave participants the opportunity to discover how ancient plants such as Tulsi, or Holy Basil, have been used for medicinal purposes, by conversing with researchers whilst planting their own herb specimens to take home (Figure 1). 
  • Industry in Chelmsford: a walk through time – This walking tour allowed audiences to explore the host city’s rich industrial heritage on foot, taking in the local area whilst discovering hidden historical gems relating to advances in everything from radio engineering to space travel. 
  • Judo and the art of falling – A Sports and Exercise scientist and certified Judo coach delivered a fun-filled, practical workshop about falling safely, whilst exploring some important implications for the field of positive aging (Figure 2). 

Figure 1: Tulsi, or not Tulsi?

Figure 2. Judo and the art of falling

Will you support the development of my event?  

We are happy to advise on the details of your event so that it’s appropriate for the British Science Festival audience. To discuss your ideas prior to submitting a proposal please email our festival inbox, and a member of the team will be able to advise on content, format, general Festival-related queries etc.

While we will support your event development, please be aware that you are responsible for finding co-facilitators/speakers for your event and ensuring that any events you propose are fully organised by spring, in time for the Festival programme to go live.   

When is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for Open Call applications is 09.00 on 20 February 2023.

When will I find out if my event has been accepted?

We will be letting applicants know in March 2023.

Will journalists be invited to my event?  

There is a strong media presence at the Festival. If accepted, we will ask for more detailed information about your speakers that will be provided to the media. 

Will you provide a fee or cover any expenses?  

We do not cover expenses, fees or direct costs unless explicit in your proposal and formally agreed with the British Science Association. Please note that any such costs might affect the success of your proposal. All British Science Festival events are free to attend.  

We are not responsible for any lost deposits if your proposal is unsuccessful.  

You may also wish to consider contacting your line manager about funding available from your school or faculty.  

Is accommodation provided?  

No, you will need to organise this yourself, but we can provide you with a list of local hotels with preferential rates.  

What onsite assistance will I receive during the Festival?  

Refreshments will be available during the Festival. Festival staff will assist with the operation of your event, including AV support, queue management and distribution of Festival evaluation forms.  

Please note that our staff members will not be able to help you facilitate your event’s content; you will need to source your own assistants/volunteers for hands-on help with the event’s activities. 

Can I get sponsorship or fundraise for my event?  

Please contact us before applying for any sponsorship or fundraising to discuss the possibilities.  

How do I submit a proposal?  

Please complete the proposal form by 09.00 on 20 February 2023.

What is the Festival’s commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)? 

The Festival is organised by the British Science Association (BSA). The BSA’s vision is a future where science is more relevant, representative, and connected to society. For this BSA’s vision to come to fruition, we need to see science relating to those from all areas of society, including those who are currently least engaged. We need to be able to engage with people in groups that are poorly represented in science, and that’s why EDI will be central to our activities.   

We recognise that in many settings, at the BSA and beyond, EDI can be seen as an add-on or ‘fix’ to the regular work. Our aim is for EDI to be the heart of everything we do. For more information about the BSA’s EDI commitment, find out about our 10 year strategy and our EDI objectives for the next 10 years.