The ESRC Festival of Social Science is an annual celebration of the social sciences. The 2021 Festival will take place from 1–30 November, with over 300 events from 34 partners across the country.

Our environment is a key theme for the 2021 Festival – from how social science can help fight climate change to our relationship with our green spaces – linking in with the UN COP26 conference running 31 October–12 November. However, we’ll also be covering a huge range of other social science topics.

You can find out more and view event listings from late September on the Festival of Social Science website. You can also follow or contribute to the conversation on Twitter by using #ESRCFestival.

History of the Festival

The Festival began life in 2002 as Social Science Week, a collection of around 25 events. Over the years it has grown to a much larger national festival of activities, aimed at the public and young people, and plays a key role in our commitment to connect the researchers we fund with new audiences.

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 new audiences and increase awareness of the contributions the social sciences make to the economy and UK society. Events now take place across the UK, from Aberdeen to Belfast, Bangor to Bournemouth. In 2020 around 15,000 people attended our events, from schoolchildren to retirees.

Aims of the Festival

The aims of the Festival are:

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

Previous Festivals

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

2021 Festival partners

The 2021 Festival will be delivered in partnership with 34 UK Higher Education Institutions. These are:

  • University of Aberdeen
  • Bangor University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • Bournemouth University
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • Durham University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
  • King’s College London
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Manchester
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR)
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Plymouth
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of Salford
  • University of Sheffield
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sussex
  • Ulster University
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

If you are a researcher at one of the above institutions and are interested in running an event as part of the Festival, please contact your own Festival team directly – for institutions with an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) the Festival team will sit within the IAA. If you’re not based at one of our partners, please contact your nearest partner institution to explore potential for collaboration – we welcome collaborations with those outside academia as well as with researchers.