An Imperial researcher and musician on Exhibition Road

As well as engagement activities run by staff and students at Imperial, there are also opportunities to develop your engagement skills and work with diverse audiences beyond the College.

Are you running an engagement activity or scheme that you think Imperial staff and students would be interested in? Contact us.

Festivals and exhibitions

There is a wide range of engagement festivals around the UK – here are just a few suggestions that you may want to explore.

Proposals processes and any costs may vary, so it’s a good idea to research an event individually and contact their team directly for further details on how to take part.  If you have any questions about how to develop an engagement activity for a festival, or if you want to let us know about an event you’re running, contact us.

Exhibitions and festivals

Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy, Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. In November each year the festival brings together universities, museums, galleries, archives, independent research organisations, community and commercial partners to make research in the humanities accessible to non-specialist audiences and demonstrate its relevance to our everyday lives.There are also grants available – ranging from £2,000 to £4,000 – to support selected engagement activities. Find out how you can get involved.

Based at the Birmingham NEC, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. The event features a combination of theatre shows, exhibits, careers information and interactive workshops. Topics have ranged from virtual reality, robots, edible science, operating theatre experiences, and how animals communicate – it’s open to all STEM-related content. They’re especially looking for activities aimed at 7 – 9 year-olds that will get them hands on with STEM. Learn more about how to get involved.

Brighton Science Festival hopes to make science exciting for everyone, but particularly aims to appeal to 12 – 14 year olds. There are Family Fun days that focus specifically on opportunities for both parents and children to play, experiment and share experiences. The festival features talks, hands-on activities and demonstrations from science communication experts. Events have previously ranged from physics poetry and an art lab exploring volcanoes to engagement activities around forensics, recycling and Alzheimer’s.

Find out more about Brighton Science Festival and ways to take part.

Bristol Science Film Festival runs an annual competition to support film-makers trying to tell the most interesting facts (or science fictions), no matter their resources. Cash prizes are awarded to winning films in either the amateur or professional category, and all shortlisted film makers will be invited to a screening of the shortlist during the festival on the weekend of the 6th June. The closing date for the competition is 1st May 2020

They also run a bunch of other film-themed events during the Festival for anyone and everyone.

Find out more about the Bristol Science Film Festival and how you can get involved.

The British Science Festival is Europe’s longest standing science Festival, traveling to a different place in the United Kingdom each autumn. The Festival aims to connect people with scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists.

Each year, they bring an inspiring programme of free events to the public over four or five days. Their talks, workshops and drop-in events span a diverse range of subjects that encompass science in the broadest sense – from agriculture, engineering, medicine and astronomy to social policy and the history of science – aimed at all ages. Event proposals typically encourage drop-in formats and creative activities. There are community grants available to encourage local exhibitors. Learn more.

The annual Cambridge Science Festival aims to raise young people’s aspirations to studying STEM subjects, engage researchers and the public with issues of scientific interest and concern, promote research, and reach at least 25,000 visitors each year. The festival includes talks, interactive demonstrations, film screenings, debates and hands-on activities. Previous topics have included the meaning of life, AI, supermarket food waste, Alan Turing, dementia, climate change – a wide range of ideas. The programme is typically finalised in November, so find out more about taking part.

The University of Cambridge also organises the Festival of Ideas, which celebrates the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Edinburgh International Science Festival is a two-week annual event that aims to inspire people from all ages and background to discover the world of science. The festival organisers also run a touring programme that visits schools across Scotland throughout the rest of the year.

The diverse programme features events for adults such as talks and debates, comedy and theatre, film screenings, as well as dedicated activities, performances and play sessions for families and young people. In recent years, each festival has had a theme around which events are curated. Last year’s event engaged over 360,000 people, young and old, both in the UK and abroad. Learn more.

The Festival of Curiosity is Dublin’s annual festival of science, arts, design and technology. It attracts over 45,000 visitors annually and features hands-on workshops, adventures in electronics, interactive installations, pop-up playgrounds, night cycles and urban tours as part of a diverse programme that aims to inspire curiosity. Engaging families and young children is a key focus for the event.  Discover more.

FutureFest is a flagship festival supported by Nesta, which aims to enhance people’s capacity to shape the future by encouraging people to talk about it. The London-based festival, which attracted over 4,500 visitors in 2017 and has free entry, features debates, innovative showcases, immersive experiences and installations. The content is designed to explore how the pressing challenges for our generation can be tackled by exploring new or surprising ways to solve problems, and offers both the public and professionals whose work focuses on solving social or public problems (such as figures from civic organisations, governments, charities and academia). The Festival appeals particularly to change-makers, entrepreneurs and creative minds. Learn more about FutureFest.

Hosted in Newcastle-upon-Tyne each April, Maker Faire UK is a two-day family-friendly festival of invention and creativity. It brings together hackers, crafters, coders and makers – so if you love to make stuff and want to share your passion with the public, it’s a good opportunity to get involved. The festival particularly offers hands-on activities aimed at engaging young children, such as interactive art installations and playful engineering displays. Find out how to take part.

New Scientist Live is a festival of ideas and discovery, attracting over 30,000 highly engaged visitors of all ages every year. The event takes place over five days in September at the Excel Centre in London, offering researchers the opportunity to engage with members of the public through a one of five immersive zones: Humans, Technology, Engineering, Earth and Cosmos. It is a ticketed event and there is a charge to exhibit – so if you’re interested in hosting a stand, make an enquiry directly with the New Scientist Live team.

Each year over 14,000 members of the public of all ages, including 2,500 school students, visit the Summer Science Exhibition. Many more are reached through coverage on TV, in the media and online.

Among other reasons to exhibit, the exhibition provides opportunities to raise the profile of your research and institution with key influencers, including potential funders, government and the public. They welcome proposals from researchers in academia, industry and in between, as long as the project lead is UK-based. Exhibits tend to range across a diverse range of topics, with previous exhibits exploring anything from quantum computing to dinosaurs to mental health and climate change. The annual Exhibition typically takes place in July, with calls for proposals running from June to September. Find out more about exhibiting.

SMASHfestUK is a free festival for all ages that aims to widen participation and build diversity in STEM through the arts. It takes place annually over February half-term at The Albany, Deptford, and features comedy and variety shows, interactive installations, music, film, participatory art and engineering, experiments and theatre productions. Each year’s festival is curated around a narrative or theme, and the 2017 festival engaged over 6,000 members of the member in various activities. Learn more about SMASHfestUK.

The annual science festival in Cheltenham attracts over 13,500 visitors to see scientists, thinkers and comedians help answer some of the ‘big questions’. There are interactive zones, workshops and hands-on activities, talks and debates with high profile speakers, and maker events suitable for all ages. The annual science communications competition FameLab is also hosted there. Discover more about The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

Public talks and events

Bright Club is the platform that transforms researchers into stand-up comedians and has been doing this for 10 years across the UK – it’s about having fun and audience participation. Find out how to get involved.

FameLab is a science communications competition designed to engage and entertain. Contestants from around the world take part armed only with their wits and a few props – the result is an unpredictable, enlightening and exciting way to encourage your curiosity.

They are now inviting scientists, mathematicians and engineers across the globe to take part in its flagship science communications competition in their national rounds. Learn more about the competition and apply.

Open Platform is an exciting events strand where we invite you to submit your own event proposal for a one-hour slot in Wellcome's Reading Room. Wellcome are looking for proposals with a clear connection to the Reading Room's subject matter, focused on low-tech participatory activity, which helps create conversation and share ideas among a small audience. Find out how to take part.

Lates is one of the Science Museum’s biggest events, staged on the last Wednesday of each month (except December) and themed around a science-related subject. It’s free and attracts around 4,000 visitors over the course of each night. The Museum offers researchers the opportunity to run an event with lots of very keen and eager-to-learn adults. In some cases they may be able to offer some financial assistance to help support your event too.

Find out how to be a part of the Museum's Lates programme and their upcoming event themes.

Soapbox Science is grass-roots science outreach organisation that brings cutting edge research onto urban streets whilst also promoting the visibility of women in science. They place inspirational speakers on soapboxes and encourage them to engage in and start conversations with the public about their work. Find out about their next call for speakers.

Working with schools and young people

The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. They do this by mobilising the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools.

I’m a Scientist is an online public engagement event that gets scientists talking to school students all over the UK. Scientists develop their communication skills, gain a fresh perspective on their work, and find out what young people think about science and the role of scientists.

Find out when their next event is happening and how to get involved.

Saturday Studio is our new series of drop-in activities for people aged 14–19. Visit our state-of-the-art Youth Studio one Saturday afternoon a month to meet new people and try your hand at activities inspired by Wellcome Collection. The sessions will be led by experts from a variety of creative fields, and across the series you’ll have the opportunity to try skills including photography, dance, digital journalism and more.

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. 

Science communications

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

Their team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public. Their aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues, and hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations.

To be published by The Conversation you must be currently employed as a researcher or academic with a university or research institution. PhD candidates under supervision by an academic can write for the publication too.

The mission of Know it Wall is to take the research that is going on at top universities and present it to the general public in an accessible and engaging way. At Know it Wall, you'll find audio and video documentaries, as well as short articles, about the latest research in the humanities and sciences — all written by academics actively doing research in those fields.

Academics send the team an article of about 1000 words and they make sure it is delivered in a language that is accessible for the general public. The team will then turn the article into a short documentary (in audio, video or both), and release the documentary and the article on this website as well as on iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube and Medium.