The Royal Society
Find out about the Royal Society, the eminent science organisation that supports the exploitation of science for the public good.
About the Royal Society
The Royal Society is an independent science organisation and non-profit body that works to promote advances in and engagement with science, engineering, and technology throughout the world. It does so by awarding fellowships, supporting young scientists, engineers and technologists, influencing science-related policy, and informing the public through exhibitions, publications, and debates.
The organisation has awarded fellowships to over 1,300 people, and accepted 137 Foreign Members, both significant honours recognising scientific excellence. Some of the society’s most distinguished fellows past and present include:
- Colin Pillinger
- Stephen Hawking
- Dame Nancy Rothwell
- Jocelyn Bell-Burnell
- Isaac Newton
- Michael Faraday
- Charles Darwin
- Dorothy Hodgkin
- Albert Einstein
Every year the Royal Society grants 44 fellowships and recognises eight Foreign Members. It also awards 12 medals, eight prizes and seven prize lectureships, all recognising excellence in science, engineering and technology.
The society also offers funding opportunities to over 1,600 young scientists, engineers, and technologists every year, the details of which are outlined in the ‘Royal Society Funding’ section of this page.
History going back to the 17th centuryDating back to 1660, the Royal Society has always been at the forefront of scientific advancement: Its archives hold early proofs of Newton’s law of universal gravitation and drawings by Charles Darwin while he was constructing his now widely-accepted theory of natural selection.
Its role in education
The Royal Society’s Education Committee was established in 1969 in order to advise on and recommend educative measures that adhere to its ‘science for all’ policy.
These educative measures include: Project grants for programmes through which young people can engage with scientists; support for educational activities; as well as resources to help teachers and inspire young people’s interest in science, technology, and engineering.
Public policy regarding school curriculum development is also within the remit of its educative role.
Working with policy
Scientific evidence to support policy-making is now more important than ever. As such, the Royal Society provides advice to governments on matters such as environmental sustainability, nanotechnology, genetic testing, and genetic modification.
Its MP-scientist pairing scheme allows for Members of Parliament and eminent scientists to gain familiarity with each others’ work and to build solid foundations for future engagement.
Not only that, the Science Policy Centre was established by the Royal Society on the eve of its 350th anniversary in order to debate and strengthen its influence on policy-making across the UK, Europe, and throughout the world.
Royal Society funding opportunities help young scientists, engineers, and technologists at the cutting edge of their fields to develop new approaches to issues that affect our lives, such as health, renewable energy, and robotics.
There are 19 funding schemes, subsumed under five categories. Find out more about each in the sections below.
Early career fellowships
- Education research: For research in STEM education.
- Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships: Four-year, flexible working funding.
- SPS Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: For research (UK researchers) in Japanese institutions.
- Newton International Fellowships: Two-year funding for international researchers in the UK.
- University Research Fellowships: Up to eight years of funding for independent research careers.
Senior fellowship schemes
- Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowships: One-year relief from teaching and administrative duties.
- Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Awards: Five-year salary boost.
- Royal Society Research Professorships: Ten-year funding for renowned scientists.
- Brian Mercer Awards for Innovation: Funding to develop a proven concept into market product.
- Brian Mercer Feasibility Awards: Funding to allow researchers to test commercial project concept economically and/or scientifically.
- Industry Fellowships: For scientists to gain industry experience, or the other way around.
- Mullard Award: Awarded to individuals whose works promote the nation’s prosperity.
Research capacity and Infrastructure schemes
- International Scientific Seminars: For Fellows organising two-day conferences.
- Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Awards: For the pairing of sub-Saharan African and UK scientists.
- Paul Instrument Fund: Funding for the development of scientific equipment.
- Research Grants: Up to £15,000 for scientists in their first permanent academic position (within first five years).
- Royal Society Wolfson Laboratory Refurbishment Grant: Funding for the renovation of laboratories.
Mobility grant schemes
- International Joint Projects: Funding for international collaborations over long periods.
- International Travel Grants: Funding for international collaborations over short periods and for UK participation in international conferences.
There are six topical issues in which the Royal Society is involved. These issues are as follows:
- International security
- New technologies
- Science and governance
- Stem cells and cloning
- Energy, the environment and climate change.
Energy, environment and climate change
The Royal Society recognises the pressures and stress put on our environment and natural resources, as well as the incredible challenges that policy-makers face to provide secure, clean, renewable energy and to reduce carbon emissions. Indeed, science and technology have major roles to play for the formation of related policy.