Birkbeck public engagement awards

This year, Birkbeck is holding its inaugural Public Engagement Awards. Building on the College’s tradition of socially engaged research and its historical mission to engage with a wide and diverse range of people outside of academia, the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards will recognise and celebrate those researchers who have undertaken innovative and exemplary public engagement activities.

Applications have now opened and entrants can be at any level in their career. Public engagement activities on any scale are welcome.

Deadline for entries: 29 January 2018 

Birkbeck public engagement awards - outline and aims

  • At Birkbeck, our public engagement activities encompass the widest possible variety of engagement pursuits and aim to support and build research excellence, foster community and engage with diverse audiences, as well as provide access to education through collaborations with businesses, community groups, cultural organisations and a range of other external partners.
  • Building on this tradition of socially engaged research and engagement with a wide,  diverse range of people outside of academia, this year we will recognise and celebrate the myriad ways that Birkbeck scholars work to make higher education and research accessible to the public.
  • The Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards aim to:
    • celebrate and make visible the diverse and wide range of public engagement activities at Birkbeck
    • recognise and reward those researchers who have undertaken innovative and exemplary public engagement activities
    • support the culture of public engagement at Birkbeck by bringing together researchers from across the College to celebrate existing work and inspire new connections.
  • The awards process is coordinated by the Public Engagement Team, with support from colleagues from across External Relations, as well as from the Public Engagement and Research Impact (PERI) Committee. The process is overseen by the College’s Academic Advocate for Public Engagement, Professor Miriam Zukas.

Award categories

  • Applications for the 2017-2018 awards are now open and we are accepting applications in the following categories:
    • Early Career Award for public engagement work undertaken by doctoral students or early career researchers (ie postdocs in their first two years in post)
    • Communicating Research for excellence in communicating research projects and ideas through stimulating or innovative activities
    • Collaboration for engagement based on an active collaboration and a two-way relationship with an external partner(s)
    • Engaged Practice for research that has participation and involvement of publics as a core approach to the creation of research
    • Transforming Culture or Public Life for research engagement activities that aim to stimulate change within our culture and society.

How to apply


  • What constitutes the ‘first two years in post’ for post-doctoral applicants? 
    • To be eligible for the PhD/Early Career Award, you must be a current PhD researcher or have been in a research post for no more than two years after the completion of your PhD. 
    • This category is aimed at those with a burgeoning research career; applicants with longer post-doctoral research experience are therefore encouraged to apply to one of the other categories. 
  • Can you clarify the two-year eligibility rule? 
    • Applications will be accepted for public engagement projects that are current and ongoing or that have been completed within the last two years (ie since January 2016). 
    • This is distinct from the larger research projects that may have informed your public engagement project. Your research projects could have been completed more than two years ago; it is the public engagement project itself which must fall within the two-year scope. 
  • What if my public engagement activities fall into more than one category?
    • Some projects may fit the remit of more than one category. If this is the case and you would like advice on the most suitable category for your application, please feel free to .
    • Otherwise, please choose the category you feel is the best fit and, if the awarding committee believes your project will fare better in a different category, we will contact you about switching it. 
  • Are there types of projects or work you won’t accept?
    • While we would like to encourage applications that reflect the broad range of public engagement activity that occurs at Birkbeck, there are a few types of work we are unable to accept:
      • widening participation initiatives or work that is directly intended to recruit students to Birkbeck 
      • ‘publicly available’ activities, such as conferences, talks or lectures, which are open to the public but primarily for academics. This is distinct from public events that have been designed for a particular non-academic audience, rather than simply opened up to them 
      • publicity activities that are centred around public promotion of academic research, for example, through public lectures, launch event or media work that specifically and only aims to promote a monograph, journal article or research finding. 
    • Public engagement for the purposes of these awards is characterised by being informed by Birkbeck research.
  • Why do you ask for a lead applicant? How can I acknowledge the contribution of other team members or collaborators?
    • We ask you to identify a lead applicant in order to simplify the application process and our communications with you.
    • We would, however, encourage you to include details of your fellow Birkbeck team members and any external collaborators or public contributors where applicable. Space for this has been included on the application form. 
  • Why do you use the term ‘publics’?
    • We use the term ‘publics’ to communicate that there is not one homogenous, non-academic ‘general public’. There are diverse publics and we’d like to encourage applicants to think more specifically about the people they have engaged with. 

Awards ceremony

  • Winning projects, along with shortlisted entries, will be showcased and celebrated by the Master, colleagues from across the College and external partners at the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards Ceremony on 14 March 2018.
  • Shortlisted applicants will receive invitations to the awards ceremony in early February.

Contact us

  • If you have any questions about the application form or the application process more generally, please contact the Public Engagement Team for guidance: