Public Engagement Training: Focus Group with Lunch for ECRs & PGRs [April 10th]

Public Engagement Training: Focus Group with Lunch for ECRs and PGRs

The Public Engagement with Research Committee and University Graduate School invite postgraduate research students and early-career researchers to join us on Monday 10th April for an informal focus group discussion with free lunch to gather the community’s views on public engagement training support needs. We will then use your views to help shape future plans and training opportunities.

  • What skills would you like to develop to carry out high quality public engagement?

  • What should training sessions look like? What schedule is most convenient to you?

  • What opportunities to do actual public engagement can we help arrange?

  • Do STEM and Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences researchers need different training?

  • How can we create training opportunities to help researchers collaborate on interdisciplinary public engagement?




All PGRs and ECRs are welcome to join us. You do not need to have any prior experience doing public engagement. During the session we will also hear from a couple of PhD/PostDoc researcher representatives about their experiences with public engagement. Please sign up so that we have an idea of numbers for catering purposes, thanks!

Time: 10:30 – 13:30 including a free lunch for participants at 12noon

Location: Westmere House (Graduate School – G15, green zone on map)

We look forward to welcoming you.

[Open to University of Birmingham members only]

Social Media for Impact workshop (Nov 1st)


Social Media for Research Impact

Tuesday 1st November 2016
G13, Nuffield

This event is for all those who are interested in understanding how they can make more effective use of a range of social media in order to maximise the visibility and potential impact of their research.

Target audience: UoB Academic researchers and Professional Services supporting research, impact, engagement and communications.

Our key speaker for this event will be Professor Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University who has made a significant contribution to research impact training with the launch of  ‘Fast Track Impact’.

Click on the link below to register for a place at this workshop.

Register for this event.

For more information email Research Planning Partner for MDS/LES, Veronica Littlewood:


For further details, contact

Ronni Littlewood
Research Planning Partner

HERMES 2016: Materials Modelling & Science Communication (Deadline 29th Feb)

Dimitra Spathara, PhD student in Met & Mat, EPS is helping organize the summer school HERMES 2016: An entirely student-led project that brings together materials modelling and science communication. If you are interested contact Dimitra directly:

World-class academics, such as Prof. Kurt Kremer and Prof. Nicola Spaldin will be given masterclasses at Materials Modelling. More details here

Science Communication Theme (2016) : Data Visualisation

Young researchers will receive training in Data Visualisation through a blend of talks/ workshops and tasks. On previous events the theme was short presentations (2014) and video making (2012).

Prof. Craig Carter is a world-class materials modeller, and for the previous two times HERMES was held, he was one of the academics to give a masterclass. At the following event (2016), he will give training on data visualisation connected to materials modelling by using specific software. Piero Vitelli is coming for the second time to give a talk on delivering presentations and public engagement. Lulu Pinney is invited to train participants on how their data visuals can work in their research storytelling.

Some useful information:

– HERMES 2016 takes place in 27-31 July 2016, Cumberland Lodge. The schedule can be found here

– Short Presentation of HERMES here

Applications have already started and the deadline for early-bird applicants is due to February 29th 2016. More information here.

Some details about the organizing committee, incl. Dimitra here.

Prizes for the Science Communication task are sponsored by PRISM2 based in the School of Metallurgy & Materials.




WORKSHOP / Revealing Research: An Introduction to Public Engagement (Feb 24th)

Are you a PhD student or early career researcher? Are you interested in getting involved with public engagement but are unsure how to communicate your research effectively? If so, come along to an introductory workshop to learn valuable skills to get you started with public engagement!

The workshop is a 3 hour interactive session designed by UoB researchers for UoB researchers. It aims to develop and build upon some of the essential skills necessary to deliver research effectively to the public. The brief aims of the workshop are:

  • Meet PhD students/ECRs from across the University and find out about the public engagement they do.
  • Explore what public engagement with research means and develop useful skills through interactive group activities and discussions.
  • Network with others and learn about opportunities for you to get involved.

Learning objectives:

  • Deepen your understanding of public engagement with research.
  • Learn essential skills/techniques which can be applied for your own public engagement.
  • Identify your skills and think about next steps or further training to take you forward.

The workshop is open to postgraduate and early career researchers from all Colleges and will be based at N334 in the Gispert Kapp building on Wednesday 24th February 2016 from 1-4pm.

To reserve your place, please email with ‘Revealing Research Workshop’ in the title. Please also include your name, position (e.g. 2nd Year PhD, Postdoc), School/department and your College.

The workshop has a limited number of spaces so registration is essential and will be on a first-come basis.


Pay-it-Fwd: BIG newsletter article

The Pay-it-Fwd cohort has written a short piece for the January 2016 BIG newsletter describing their experience of the training they received at the ‘How to Train Researchers in Public Engagement’ workshop held in Newcastle in November 2015.

Read the full article here:


How to Train Researchers Workshop: Reflections from University of Birmingham’s Pay-it-Fwd cohort! 

Caroline Gillett, University of Birmingham 

The University was recently awarded the RCUK Catalyst Seed Fund to create momentum for culture change around PE at the institution. Our bid placed a clear emphasis on training and workshops for our researchers and as part of this I’ve decided to pilot a small-scale project that was a little different. Having already been impressed by the Little Event 2014, when I heard about the How to Train Researchers Workshop in Newcastle I knew I wanted to go, but I wanted to give others the opportunity to come too! This is how the ‘Pay-it-Forward with Public Engagement Programme’ was born.

A callout for five researchers enthusiastic about PE was sent out across the University and we received lots of interest, making it a hard task for the University’s Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC) to select our cohort. However, I am really happy with the researchers we selected as together they span the breadth of our University’s research disciplines from arts and humanities through to social, medical, physical and life sciences.

Also joining us on this venture is colleague and sci-comm maverick Jon Wood whose involvement with the pilot has been real asset thanks to his vast PE experience and can-do attitude. The Pay-it-Forward programme has two stages.:

  • Stage 1: Training – All seven of us got trained at the BIG How to Train Researchers Workshop!
  • Stage 2: Paying-it-Fwd – Our researchers will bring back the activities and training learned to together develop a practical public engagement workshop for UoB staff and students in early 2016, putting the training they have received at the BIG workshop in to real world practice and paying-it-forward to fellow colleagues and students.

Personally, I found the training day incredibly useful and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet other practitioners. More importantly though here’s what our researchers had to say:

Ruth Wareham: “I approached the BIG event with a modicum of trepidation; as someone whose science education ended some time ago, and with a background firmly rooted in the arts and humanities, I wasn’t entirely sure how well I’d fit in with a room full of self-professed ‘STEM Communicators’!  I needn’t have worried – the event was informative, interesting and lots of fun. Perhaps more importantly, all of the activities suggested could be used in a range of disciplinary contexts. The presenters had clearly thought carefully about the sessions and adapted them to suit the experience level and needs of the delegates.”

Elizabeth Randall: “I came to the BIG workshop with no experience of training researchers in public engagement…I felt somewhat lacking in confidence at the start of the day but after talking to a number of people about what makes a good trainer I now feel well-equipped to design and deliver a workshop to researchers at my university.

Sophie Cox: “At the start of the training session I put myself at the bottom of the cohort when asked our levels of confidence to train others in public engagement. By lunch I’d taken some steps forward and at the end of the day I’d leapfrogged my way to the top and was bursting with enthusiasm to get started with bringing loads of inspiring ideas back to the University” 

Katherine Eales: “As a doctoral researcher I am still at an early stage in my career and so it was great to get the opportunity to network with such a diverse range of experienced PE communicators. I also am thankful for the Pay-it-Forward scheme as I got to meet and work with some great and diverse researchers from UoB whom I wouldn’t necessarily have got to engage with! I am really looking forward to using the skills I gained at the BIG workshop to develop and deliver our introductory workshop to a wide range of graduate and early career researchers!

So there you have it! To find out how we get on in Stage 2 check out our blog and follow us on Twitter @UOBengage. Big thanks to BIG, all those who shared tips and tricks at the event and the others we met there.

The On-Screen Factual Talent Market 2016 is now open for applications

Are you an expert in a field such as science, engineering, politics, or the arts?

Have you ever considered a career in television? Could you be the next Lucy Worsley or Brian Cox?

Would you like to be coached in how to pitch yourself to TV professionals and then given the opportunity to do so?

Do you want to make new connections and spark collaborations with TV broadcasters and producers?



The On-Screen Talent Market is a Sheffield Doc/Fest initiative to connect potential on-screen talent with producers, commissioners, and decision makers looking for fresh faces for their programmes.

Launching as a scheme for UK-based talent in 2016, it will include pitch training for academics and experts to hone their skills in presenting themselves to the media, ahead of meetings with television executives.

We are looking for new on-screen talent from a diverse range of fields, whether it be science and engineering or arts and humanities, or anything in between.

Meetings between selected talent and decision makers will take place between 5 and 10 June 2016 at Sheffield Doc/Fest.



– You should want to share your expertise as part of a team providing factual programming for television, in both on-screen and advisory roles.

– You might be an academic with expertise in a particular area, or a professional working in a specific field, for example science or politics or engineering.

– You may have some experience in broadcast media; this is however by no means a pre-requisite for consideration.

– You should be a confident and engaging communicator.

– We are looking for talented individuals and encourage applications from all genders and ethnicities.

– You should be working and living in the UK and be over 18 years old.



Applications for The On-Screen Factual Talent Market are now open!

You will need to complete an application form, please click here to download. Please send your completed form and any queries to Becky Webb

Applications close on Monday 25 January 2016 at 5pm UK time.

If you are selected for the market, you will be required to pay a fee of £70+VAT for the full programme, this includes the coaching as well as one-to-one meetings with television executives.

Selected talent will also be given the opportunity to purchase a full festival pass at a discounted rate of £199+VAT (reduced from £299+VAT) to grant access to Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016. A full festival pass gives access to all film screenings, marketplace sessions, the industry conference programme, networking receptions and parties. *Note. If you have already purchased a pass to the festival we will be unable to refund this. The pass is a complimentary bonus and the price outlined is the course fee, which is itself highly subsidised. The opportunity to pay in instalments is available. If you need to discuss your financial needs please email Becky Webb



On-Screen Factual Talent Market // Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016 // 10 – 15 June 2016

Participants will attend Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Marketplace for the On-Screen Factual Talent Market. The day will take place during Sheffield Doc/Fest 10-15 June 2016. Date and exact timings will be confirmed on selection.

– Monday 25 January 2016: applications close

– End of February: selected participants informed

– March-April 2016: Preparatory mentoring from the Sheffield Doc/Fest Marketplace team. Mentoring will take place in person where possible

– June 2016: Market Day (date tbc) – the day will comprise two parts:

1. Pitch training – talent will receive pre-meeting pitch training from the marketplace team at Sheffield Doc/Fest and experts
2. One-to-one meetings with television experts – these will include TV execs, producers and TV broadcast professionals



If you have any queries about the On-Screen Talent Market please email Becky Webb

Win a B.I.G bursary & 1 year membership (Deadline Dec 18th)

BIG is delighted to able to offer 10 bursaries to attend this year’s Little Event on Wednesday 13th January in Birmingham.

Each bursary worth £100 covers an annual BIG membership, registration fees for the Little Event and £25 towards travel expenses. 

The Little Event is for people who are relatively new to STEM communication, whether they work in a science centre or museum, volunteer for a festival, are involved in university outreach, or do anything else to engage people with sciences. It’s a lot like the BIG Event, but a bit smaller, and all crammed into one busy day. There will be several sessions, each focusing on developing a different skill, delivered by experienced science communicators following our usual hands-on approach.

But of course it isn’t just about the sessions, it’s the people you meet there too. The Little Event presents a great opportunity to meet people from across the UK working in similar roles and sharing similar experiences. The programme for the day will include sessions on Learning & evaluation, Interacting with the public, Managing your engagement project, Presenting and careers. 

If you wish to apply for one of the 10 free places, applying is simple.  Just email by noon on Friday 18th December with the subject line “Bursary application Little Event” to tell us in no more than 200 words why you would like the opportunity to come to the Little Event and how you think it will benefit your personal and professional development. If you have already registered for the Event you can still apply for the bursary and we will refund your registration if you are successful.

Successful applicants will be notified by 23rd December by email.

For more information or to book click here 

Sarah Vining, Administrator

How to collaborate with radio and TV producers to create ideas for chemistry-based content

The Academic Ideas Lab is running a workshop supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry to encourage chemists to take part in training for radio & TV, as well as competitions such as the Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

Many academics are keen to reach large numbers of the public with their research and with their expertise in and passion for their subject. Mainstream media can deliver this, but for most researchers the process of working with radio and TV producers is completely unknown. This training is designed to help chemists who are interested in engaging the public with chemistry through interesting and innovative programming.

This workshop offers training to 10 chemists based in research institutions in the Midlands. The aim is to give chemists in academia the skills and contacts to collaborate with TV and radio producers to develop ideas for new programming featuring chemistry on mainstream channels with large audiences. This is not ‘media training’ in the sense of providing on-camera skills for being interviewed.

The workshop aims to

  • Improve their understanding of factual radio and television development
  • Increase their skills at developing ideas based in chemistry for mainstream audiences
  • Give them time with TV and radio producers from respected production companies to refine their ideas and to build personal contacts to collaborate further on chemistry-based ideas

Travel expenses and some funding towards childcare expenses are available for successful applicants. Successful applicants will be required to complete a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of taking part. There will also be some filming taking place during the workshop, which will require consent on a separate consent form. Successful candidates will be required to complete a form to evaluate the day, to provide some short feedback on camera, and to reply to follow-up emails at 2 and 4 months post-workshop to enable the training provider and the Royal Society of Chemistry to discover more about the longer-term impact of the training. We particularly encourage applications from women and from BAME groups as these are under-represented in broadcasting.

Applications are open now until 5pm on Friday 4th December. Download the application form and information for applicants below in the link. 



Lucy Vernall
The Academic Ideas Lab
0121 6033980

To register and for further info:

Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web (Free MOOC course)

This course may be useful for those who would like to utilize film-making in their public engagement? Find out more HERE

The University of Birmingham, the BBC Academy and Creative Skillset have joined forces to create this four-week, free online course.

Public Engagement training for engineers: Bath, 30 October

Burgers & Bioreactors – public engagement training for engineers: Bath, 30 October

The University of Bath is running a training event for engineers who want to develop skills in public engagement.

The goal of this day-long (9.30 – 17.30) workshop is to provide you with a platform to question and discuss the wider social, ethical and aesthetic implications of your work.To register for this event, contact Amy Phillips.

To elicit this, the case study of in-vitro meat will be used. You will explore the obstacles and opportunities as in-vitro meat moves from the R&D lab to the dinner plate. How will interactions between logistics, engineering and society shape the public acceptability of cultured meat?