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Birkbeck public engagement awards

The Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards recognise and celebrate researchers undertaking innovative and exemplary public engagement activities. In particular, we celebrate research that builds on Birkbeck's tradition of socially engaged research and the College's historical mission to engage with a wide and diverse range of people outside of academia.

How to apply

Applications for the 2022 Public Engagement Awards are now open.

Completed applications should be emailed to the . The deadline for 2022 applications is on 14 June 2022.


  • 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. 


  • PhD/Early Career: This award recognises the inspiring public engagement work undertaken by researchers in the early stages of their research career, either doctoral students or early career researchers (i.e. post-docs in their first two years in post). This includes projects where the applicant has spearheaded a project or contributed significantly to a larger project. Applicants can apply across any of the following categories.
  • Innovation: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all. This award recognises new or existing projects that innovated to ensure public engagement with research continued during this time.
  • Sharing and Inspiring: This award recognises excellence in sharing research with the public via activities or media that can inspire thought, reflection and imagination. Initiatives considered in this category will not typically involve the public directly in the creation of research. This category can include but is not limited to talks, posters, festival-based activities, school-based activities, workshops, exhibitions, and the creation of artwork (film, documentary, music, theatre, literature, virtual/augmented reality, etc). Innovative use of websites and social media will also be considered. Entries must have been designed for the public, rather than just being publicly available. Recordings of academic conferences, for instance, are not eligible. 
  • Public Participation: For engagement where the research is led by the academic but has the active participation of publics in its creation. The public can include individuals or partners such as museums, libraries, charities, businesses, schools, workplaces, artists, focus groups and community groups, and others that inform the creation of research and/or further research-based public initiatives. Examples might include citizen science, clinical research, or community-based initiatives to tackle inequalities, etc. 
  • Public Empowerment: For outstanding projects based on the active sharing and development of research with the public that empowers those involved and wider society. This form of engagement is dependent on mutual respect and equitable relationships with partners enabling academics and publics to share their knowledge and expertise and develop new initiatives, which empower public partners to deliver change for themselves, their organisations, the communities in which they work, and wider society.  Examples might include building issue-based awareness, supporting activism, taking a ground up approach to policy change, or influencing the behaviours and practices of organisations or groups who work in the public realm.


  • 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.
  • Which projects are eligible?
    • Applications will be accepted for public engagement projects that are current and ongoing or that have been completed within the last five years (i.e. since May 2017) unless the project has previously won a Birkbeck Public Engagement award (in which case the engagement must have been undertaken in the last three years). 
    • This is distinct from the larger research projects that may have informed your public engagement project. It is the public engagement aspect of the work which must fall within this 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.