Doctoral School

Public Engagement Fund


Please note: from September 2018, Sussex Public Engagement Fund will be merged with the Researcher Led Initiative Fund (RLIF). Researchers interested in public engagement activity should now apply to the RLIF for support.


About the Public Engagement Fund

"Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit."
National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement

The Researcher Development Programme is introducing a pilot scheme to encourage doctoral and early career researchers (i.e. members of research staff whose role is primarily focused on conducting research) interested in delivering public engagement activity. The aim of the scheme is to build on the success of recent doctoral and early career researchers in securing public engagement funding and to encourage more researchers to work in this way.

Why should you be involved?

You told us you wanted the opportunity - Feedback from researchers in the 2017 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey expressed the desire for more opportunities to communicate research to diverse audiences. Public engagement projects are a way to do this!

Expectations of research funders - Funders expect researchers to consider the wider context of their research area, particularly in reference to societal and ethical issues, and the importance of engaging the public with research. 

A chance to engage with a University wide initiative - In June 2017, the Vice-Chancellor signed up to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement's Manifesto and under his leadership, the University has increased its focus on the role it plays in the vibrant mix of communities and cultures it is part of (Sussex in the community).

Funding available

The total fund available is ~£5000 and eligible researchers are invited to apply for a small grant of up to £750. The Researcher Development Programme expects to fund approximately twelve projects this academic year (i.e. by 31st July 2018). We recognise that the amount is small, but are also committed to working with you to seek other funding streams to turn your vision for public engagement into reality.


Calls for applications

We hope to open the next call for applications in August 2018- watch this space

Guidance for applicants

Applications are invited from doctoral and early career researchers (research staff whose role is primarily focused on conducting research) at the University of Sussex for funding to support short –term, well defined public engagement activities. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the guidance notes before applying.

Purpose of public engagement activity

Applicants are encouraged to consider:

  • The purpose of the activity, is this to:

    • Inform and inspire the public: These projects will have a dissemination function, inspiring, informing, educating and making your research more accessible. Possible activities might include participation in festivals, interactive talks and shows, films and animations.

    • Consult and listen to public views: These projects will involve listening to the public’s views and concerns about your research, and provide an opportunity to gain fresh perspectives and insights into your work. Possible activities might include public debates, online consultations, panels and user-groups.

    • Collaborate with the public: Here researchers and the public work together on projects. The public help to define your future research directions, policy or the implementation of your research outcomes. Possible activities might include citizen sciences, co-production of knowledge.

Or some combination of the above!

Training and support

Successful applicants will be required to attend an informal meeting with Dr Katy Petherick (Public Engagement Coordinator, Life Sciences) and Helen Hampson (Researcher Development Officer) to provide you with some support in organising your public engagement activity. Doctoral researchers must also include a statement of support from their supervisor with their application. All applicants are encouraged to consider who else might support them and contribute expertise to the delivery of the project.

Helen and Katy are also willing to have informal discussions with researchers in the development of their applications.

Doctoral School

T: 00 44 (0)1273 87 7767