Since the foundation of the British Science Festival, the Scientific Sections, comprised of science professionals, have played a key role in developing the programme of events and organising talks, demonstrations, and other activities. Here is a list of the 2023 Section Presidents and the titles of their Presidential Addresses at the British Science Festival 2023.  

The Sections are also important for advising the British Science Association (BSA) on the latest developments within their fields. Being involved in a Section can be extremely engaging and rewarding, as it can give you the opportunity to bring areas of your discipline to the wider public. It can also provide opportunities to connect with a wide range of people from multiple fields at various levels of their career, exposing you to new ideas and developments within your own and other disciplines. 

Our Sections include:

·       Agriculture and Food 

·       Archaeology and Anthropology

·       Biological Sciences

·       Chemistry

·       Economics

·       Education 

·       Engineering

·       General

·       Geography and Geology

·       History of Science

·       Mathematical Sciences

·       Medical Sciences

·       Physics and Astronomy

·       Psychology

·       Science and the Arts

·       Sociology and Social Policy

If you’re interested in being involved in one of our Scientific Sections or learning about our other volunteering opportunities, please contact [email protected].  
If you're a Section Recorder, please review our Event Proposal FAQs below in advance of proposing an event for the British Science Festival 2024. Section members can also download the Section's Handbook. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Event proposals  

This document provides answers to frequently asked questions about proposing an event for the British Science Festival 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 contact Emery Howarth 


What is the date and location of the Festival 

The Festival will take place in East London from Wednesday 11– Sunday 15 September 2024 and will be hosted by the University of East London. 


What time will my event take place?  

We anticipate the overall programme each day to start as early as 10.00 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 British Science Festival programme it is scheduled under (e.g. daytime events, evening takeovers 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 young adults (16-30 years old), particularly from underserved and underrepresented groups in science:     

  • Those with broad interest in science but don’t actively seek to engage with it     

  • Those who might not self-identify as interested in science, but who are interested in cultural experiences (e.g., music, technology, films, fashion etc) or have a personal connection to a particular field of science (e.g., gardening, sports, mental health, accessibility technology, etc)" 

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

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.  


What length should my event be?  

We anticipate that Presidential Addresses will last for one hour, including time for Q&A. For any secondary events, duration is flexible depending on the format and we are open suggestions.  


Do proposed events need to involve scientists?  

No, the Festival celebrates science in its broadest sense. We programme events that are organised and delivered by 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 are looking for thought provoking events that offer new perspectives on scientific topics and stimulate discussion. The British Science Festival is all about making science relevant, representative and connected to society and we’d like to see that reflected in your content. Newsworthy content will be viewed favourably.  


What type of events are you looking for?  

We’re looking for events that span a diverse range of subjects encompassing science in the broadest sense, promising something for everyone.  

Traditionally, presidents will deliver a Presidential Address as a 60-minute talk, including Q&A, which may or may not include slides. However, the presidential event does not have to be a talk and we welcome proposals which think creatively about content and formats which fit into the participatory nature of the Festival. All content should be relevant and engaging to our non-specialist, adult audiences.  

If you would like to propose a second event, please submit a second, separate proposal form. Due to reduced capacity for events that require a lecture, theatre style venue, or similar set up, we will look more favourably on second events with more participatory formats that will take place outside of a traditional lecture-theatre setting. Those formats allow us to reach audiences who would not typically go to a science festival. 

We are happy to discuss and advise on any ideas for either your Presidential address or any second event.  


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. 
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 The British Science Festival 2023:  

  • Sculptural snogging beyond the binary
    This creative workshop, with artist and dentist Simon Hall, will delve into the art and science of our mouths, kissing, sexual health and what it means to live beyond binary genders.
    Read their blog here.
  • VSimulators: virtual reality and beyond 
    Immerse yourself in the future of research with the team from VSimulators at the University of Exeter. Discover the incredible potential of virtual reality (VR) technology, motion platforms and wearable devices in biomedical and engineering research.   

  • Decolonising Medicine: Travelling Through Time 
    Explore the hidden narratives of medical knowledge and its entanglement with colonialism and injustice. Musarrat Maisha Reza reveals the untold stories that shape our understanding. Join the conversation and envision a future of equitable healthcare systems.  
    Read their blog here.

  • The World Turned Upside Down 
    Immerse yourself in the transformative power of theatre and research with 'The World Turned Upside Down' documentary. Witness the journey of a play inspired by dementia research, followed by a Q&A with the team behind it, chaired by Dr Catherine Charlwood from the University of Exeter. 

  • Mudder on the seafloor 
    Explore the hidden wonders beneath the ocean's surface. Join the Convex Seascape Survey for a hands-on adventure in the mud, discovering fascinating marine life and its impact on the environment. Enjoy sea-inspired cocktails and unleash your creativity with colorful mud art.   

  • Artificially Intelligent 
    Discover Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) potential and limitations. Engage with the University of Exeter's Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence to ask questions, co-write poetry and test your ability to differentiate human and AI responses. 

  • One size does not fit all 
    Step into the future of footwear with Jo Reeves from the University of Exeter. Experience the revolutionary approach of personalised shoe design, tailored to the unique shape and size of your feet. Join the team, get measured and try out the cutting-edge equipment.  

  • Imagining new possibilities for a liveable future 
    What would a more sustainable, healthy and socially just world look like? Join the University of Exeter’s Cecilia Manusa Nyblon and Sally Flint to unleash your imagination through community, collaboration, and creative writing. 


Will you support the development of my event?  

You will have the opportunity to suggest three prospective presidents via the President Proposal Form for your scientific section before 23.59 Monday 8 January 2024 after which the British Science Association review the suggestions and contact you to advise you on which prospective president we would like you to approach. 

Beyond this point, we are very happy to discuss your events and offer guidance on content and format. Please do get in touch with Emery Howarth to discuss your event. 

Once this is decided, you will be asked to fill out an Event Proposal Form with details of the Presidential event and any second events by 23.59 Thursday 8 February 2024. 


What budget will I receive from the British Science Association to support this event?  

Each section will receive £450 total for the 2024 Festival, regardless of the number of events proposed, which will need to include the costs of your President’s travel and accommodation. Please be aware that there is no additional funding available for secondary events, and that any event costs for events besides the Presidential Address will need to be covered from existing section funds If you need to access existing section funds, please confirm with a member of the British Science Festival team before allocating that money.   

If the proposed event(s) is expected to cost more than the sum of those budgets, please contact Emery, and we will do our best to help. This will only be for proposals that are particularly good at reaching the Festival's aims and objectives 


How do I propose an event?  

The British Science Festival 2023 Sections Event Proposal form can be found here. The deadline to submit this form is 23.59 Thursday 8 February 2024. Please note: you will need to fill out the form once per event you are proposing.  


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

We will be in touch shortly after the proposal deadline.  


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. 


Is accommodation provided?  

Accommodation for both section recorders and presidents will be available at a local hotel and organised by the British Science Association, but please be aware that any rooms will need to be requested by the deadline and covered by the section budgets.  


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.  


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.