Festival of Social Science

Festival of Social Science 2024

About the ESRC Festival of Social Science

The ESRC Festival of Social Science is an annual, national celebration of the creative, engaging and impactful work that social science researchers do to help us understand and influence the world around us, with over 350 events taking place across the UK and online. Each year the University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account funds a range of public and community engagement activities as part of the Festival. This is led by the Social Science Division’s Research Impact and Engagement Team (RIE), in collaboration with colleagues at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford Brookes University.

Call for Expressions of Interest – closing date 26 April 2024

  • Are you a social scientist passionate about sharing your research with the public?
  • Are you interested in working with a fantastic cross-University team to deliver an inspiring public and community engagement event?
  • Are you available all day on Friday 1 November for an in-person event at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford?
  • Or between 19 October and 9 November to run a standalone event?

Then the Festival of Social Science could be for you!

We are looking for enthusiastic individuals or teams from University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University to lead an informative and entertaining event of their own as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

This year there are two pathways for researchers to participate in the Festival:

1.    Join the Festival Day at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Join us for a day-long Festival at the Pitt Rivers Museum 09:00-16:00 on Friday 1st November (schools’ half term week) with activities based around the ESRC’s nominated theme ‘our digital lives’. The theme is broad, so you can be creative! We welcome ideas for engaging activities aimed at children and families. Please bear in mind that the majority of young people visiting the museum are of primary-school age. All activities will be drop-in and will run throughout the day.

This is a particularly good opportunity for researchers (including DPhils/PhDs) who want to start building experience of developing and delivering public engagement activity.

Support to plan and deliver your activities for this pathway includes:

  • Individual guidance to develop your activity plan, from colleagues experienced in public engagement 
  • Funding to cover costs of running your activity 
  • Training opportunities from our funder ESRC, and the Social Sciences Division (see further info at the end of this call document)
  • Lunch and refreshments on the Festival day

We would love to hear from you, even if you only have the beginnings of an idea at this stage.

For inspiration, explore the Festival held in the Pitt Rivers Museum last year!

For this pathway, please complete the 'Festival Day' EOI form by 26 April 2024. 

2.    Deliver your own, stand-alone event between 19 October and 9 November 

Working on a different theme? Planning some public and community engagement work in the UK that could use a funding boost?  Could you deliver this activity between 19 October and 9 November?  Then this is the pathway for you! 

This opportunity is particularly suited to researchers who have some experience running public engagement activities and are happy to run activities independently, or researchers/teams who have already developed plans for public and community engagement that they would need to deliver as a core part of their research.

You may apply for a maximum budget of £1,500. Events must be free of charge for attendees.

Activities can be held anywhere in the UK, or be held online. 

Researchers will be supported by the Festival team to raise awareness of the event through general Festival promotion, and support to develop the design of the activity will be provided where needed. However, researchers will be expected to be self-sufficient in terms of event organisation (booking venues, purchasing materials, tailored publicity to core audiences, managing attendee bookings where applicable, etc).

As part of this pathway, we are working with the Pitt Rivers Museum to identify specific areas of their programming that may provide additional avenues for researchers to work with public and community audiences. These could be for example:

  • Feeding into engagement activity around the forthcoming exhibition ‘Ma uka to Ma kai: Back to the Future with Ahupua’a’, which explores Hawaiian concepts of land-management, water use, self-sufficiency,  storytelling, and cultures of environmental care.
  • Supporting the PRM’s work with older audiences
  • Supporting the PRM’s work with younger audiences (especially via storytelling)

If you are interested in working in one of these specific areas of museum activity, please indicate this in your Expression of Interest form. 

For this pathway, please complete the 'stand-alone event' EOI form by 26 April. 

Programming Decisions

You may apply for both pathways but successful applicants will not be awarded more than one, so you may wish to focus on the pathway that best suits your experience and interests. 

We expect to make final decisions on the programme by mid-June.

Training Opportunities

ESRC provide specific Festival of Social Science training for activity leads. Invites will be sent out to all successful applicants. 

  • Festival Engagement: attend online 9 July 12:00-13:00
  • Practical Planning and Engagement: attend online on either 23 June or 16 July, both 12:00-13:00
  • Online and Hybrid Engagement: attend online on either 3 June or 23 July, both 12:00-13:00 

We will also ensure that Festival participants are made aware of forthcoming Social Sciences Division training on public and community engagement, which we plan to run in the summer term. 


If you have any queries, please contact us at esrciaa@socsci.ox.ac.uk, we'll be happy to help!