The ESRC Festival of Social Science is a celebration of the social sciences.

It began life in 2002 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.

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 our commitment to promote 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 at 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. 2019 will be the seventeenth Festival of Social Science and each year the Festival has gone from strength to strength.

This year the Festival will take place from 2-9 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 science and ESRC-funded 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 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 a 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
  • includes events targeted at businesses, policymakers and the third sector.

Aims of the Festival

We aim to:

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

Previous Festivals

Our evaluation reports highlight the breadth of activities, events and audiences that our previous Festivals have achieved.