Academy of Social Sciences

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This article is about the representative body of the social sciences in the United Kingdom. For other uses, see Academy of Social Sciences (disambiguation).

The Academy of Social Sciences is the voice of the social sciences in the UK. The Academy promotes social science through its sponsorship of the Campaign for Social Science, its links with Government on a variety of matters, and its own policy work in issuing public comment, responding to official consultations, and organising meetings and events about social science. It confers the title of Academician upon nominated social scientists following a process of peer review. As of March 2013, the Academy comprised over 900 Academicians, 45 learned societies based in the UK and one learned society based in Brussels.


The Academy’s origins lie in the formation of a representative body for the social science learned societies in the early 1980s. From 1999 to 2007 it was called the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences before changing to its current name.[1] It was created because social scientists wanted their own dedicated Academy to speak for social science.


The Academy is run by a Council of 21 members, with Professor Cary Cooper CBE AcSS as its current Chair, and Professor Sir Howard Newby AcSS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, as its current President. Council members are elected by the Academy’s College of Academicians and College of Learned Societies.[2]


The Academy advocates social science by interacting with Government and other organisations, and co-ordinates the responses of social scientists to Government consultation documents. Recent consultations include:

  • The Higher Education White Paper, ‘Putting students at the heart of the system’.
  • The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee enquiry on the role of departmental advisers
  • The Office for National Statistics consultation on measuring national wellbeing
  • The Academy of Medical Sciences review of medical research regulation and governance.[3]

The Academy also puts forward suggestions to the Government about which social scientists should carry out its Foresight research projects,[4] which look at important issues and how these might change over the next 20 to 80 years.

A developing part of the Academy’s work is to bring researchers and organisations using research closer together to improve the evidence upon which public policy is based and to increase the impact of research.


The Academy has produced a series of ‘Making the Case for the Social Sciences’ booklets which give examples of important social science research which has made a difference to policy or practice. These are: Wellbeing; Ageing; Sustainability; the Environment and Climate Change; Crime; Sport and Leisure; Management; Scotland; Longitudinal Studies and Mental Wellbeing. Further titles are in preparation. The Academy also publishes a cross-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal, Contemporary Social Science.


The Academy holds regular events, such as conferences on the future of higher education in the UK and the riots in England in 2011. It also arranges (with the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Library) a public lecture series Myths and Realities [5] which address social issues such as the surveillance society, ageing, state benefits and educational standards.


Part of the Academy’s work is to recognise social scientists who are held in esteem by their peer group and whose life and work have had an impact in advancing social science. They are nominated and the nominations are then subject to peer review. Academicians are academics, policy-makers and practitioners, and are entitled to use the letters “AcSS” after their name. In November 2013 there were 950 Academicians, just over 1% of the 87,000 total memberships of the 44 learned societies members of the Academy.

The Campaign for Social Science[edit]

The Academy launched the Campaign for Social Science in January 2011 to advocate social science to Government and the general public. The Campaign is self-funded. It has campaigned for the restoration of the post of Government Chief Social Science Advisor,[6] promotes social science in the media and on the web, and organises roadshows around the country to emphasise the value and importance of social science.

Academy members (learned societies)[edit]



External links[edit]