The ESRC Festival of Social Science is a celebration of the social sciences. It began life in 2003 as Social Science Week - a collection of around 25 events, mainly seminars aimed towards an academic audience. Over the years Social Science Week has grown to a much larger and more inclusive 'festival' of activities, aimed at policymakers, business, the public and young people alike.

Our Festival of Social Science offers a fascinating insight into some of the country's leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future.

It is a key element of the ESRC's science in society strategy and its commitment to promoting awareness of UK social science research to new audiences.

You may be surprised at just how relevant the Festival's events are to society today. Social science research makes a difference. Discover how it shapes public policy and contributes to making the economy more competitive, as well as giving people a better understanding of 21st century society. From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all everyday - at work, in school, when raising children, within our communities, and even at the national level.

Everyone - from school children to politicians - can take part in and hear about social science research in the Festival's many engaging events.

This celebration of the social sciences takes place across the UK - via public debates, conferences, workshops, interactive seminars, film screenings, virtual exhibitions and much more. 2017 will be the fifteenth Festival of Social Science and each year the Festival has gone from strength to strength.

This year the Festival will take place from 4-11 November, and applications for sponsorship of up to £1,000 can be made to assist with events.

Purpose of the Festival

The Festival is designed to promote and increase awareness of social sciences and ESRC's research, enable social scientists to engage with non-academics and increase awareness of the contributions the social sciences make to the wellbeing and the economy of the UK society. Events which are aimed primarily at academic audiences are not eligible to be part of the Festival or to receive sponsorship.

Each year the Festival:

  • offers a week of activities celebrating the diversity of ESRC funded and social science research
  • has an even geographical spread of activities across the UK
  • continues to increase the number events focused on engaging the public and young people with social science research
  • maintains a portfolio of events targeted towards business, policymakers and the third sector.

Aims of the Festival

Through its Festival of Social Science, the ESRC aims to:

  • encourage, support and create the opportunity for social science researchers to engage with non-academic audiences
  • promote and increase awareness of the social sciences and ESRC's research
  • promote and increase awareness of the contributions the social sciences make to the wellbeing and the economy of the UK society
  • enable the public to engage with social science research
  • engage with teachers and young people and to raise their awareness of the social sciences.

Previous Festivals

Our Festival of Social Science evaluation reports highlight the breadth of activities, events and audiences the Festival reaches.

These include a small studies of the Festival of Social Science covering 2006-10, 2012 and 2013 to review the successes and the benefits over time, as well as to develop learning points for future events.