Beltane Public Engagement Fellowships | Call for Applications 2017/18



The Beltane Public Engagement Network (Beltane) is a network for people interested in making academic research accessible to a wide variety of audiences. We work with the four Edinburgh universities: the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

To date we have appointed 34 Beltane Public Engagement Fellows and two honorary Beltane Fellows, including five Parliament Fellowships. Beltane Fellowships undertaken between 2008 and 2015.

This year’s Fellowships are funded by the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh and are only open to the University of Edinburgh staff at this time.  We are expecting to put out separate calls for Edinburgh Napier, Heriot Watt and Queen Margaret University staff shortly.

Now that public engagement and impact activities are recognised as essential to a researchers’ role these Fellowships do not buy out a researchers time, but instead provide funds (up to £1k) for training, travel and/or activities.  In addition, Fellows will have access to mentoring, advice and practical assistance to develop a portfolio of public engagement activities.


Purpose, scope and themes

Beltane Fellowships in are for academic and research staff. The Fellowships provide funding, mentoring, training, advice and practical support for staff to develop their portfolio of public engagement activities.

It is not essential, but it is desirable that you are able to show that your engagement activity is relevant to one of the six RCUK cross cutting themes in a Scottish context. The themes are:

  • Digital economy
  • Energy
  • Global Food Security
  • Global uncertainties; security for all in a changing world
  • Living with environmental change
  • Lifelong health and wellbeing

In addition the Beltane has a close partnership with Scotland’s Futures Forum based at the Scottish Parliament and there is an opportunity for the Fellowship to be hosted by SFF if the topic chosen is relevant to Scottish Parliament future business.

All Fellowship applications must show how the proposed work is relevant in the Scottish context.


Eligibility and funding

To be eligible for a Beltane Fellowship in 2017-18 you must be a member of academic or research staff at the University of Edinburgh; support staff are not eligible to apply. You must be employed at grade 6 level or above. If you are employed on a fixed-term contract, your termination date must be beyond December 2018.

Funding for University of Edinburgh applicants is provided by the Institute for Academic Development. We are expecting to put out separate calls for Edinburgh Napier and Heriot Watt University staff shortly.

All applicants must provide written support from their supervisor, line manager, Head of School or other equivalent as part of their initial application.

All applicants must be provisionally available to attend for interview on the 15 November 2017.


Application process

The application process consists of a short form and an interview. Key dates are:

  • Deadline for form submission: 11 am, Monday  30 October 2017
  • Interview for shortlisted candidates: Wednesday 15 November 2017
  • Deadline for notification of interview outcomes: Early December 2017
  • Fellowship start date: 1st January 2018
  • Latest date for Fellowship completion: 30 June 2018

Beltane Fellowship application form (Word)

Beltane Fellowship application form (PDF)


Expected outcomes

Examples of suitable activities for consideration would include but are not limited to:

  • Developing and managing a cross-discipline or cross-institution public event in an area relevant to public policy.
  • Working closely with government, charitable or public-interest agencies to foster links between academia, policy makers and the public.
  • Developing training programmes for staff development in the skills required for good public engagement.  This could include transferring existing models of best practice in training to or from the Fellow’s own institution.
  • Stimulate, support, and facilitate public engagement activity across an institution, School, Faculty or department by developing a network of PE practitioners, creating a web presence about PE activity and/or Co-ordinating and recording engagement activities across the institution.
  • Working with media partners to develop materials (print, film or podcast) for a media campaign about research in an area relevant to public policy.

We expect to see reflective evaluation by the Fellow of their experience and activities. We also hope that Fellows will share their learning with the members of the Beltane and beyond; this could be achieved through the maintenance of a reflective blog, or by publishing a detailed case study.

On completion of the Fellowship, the Fellow is expected to act as a key contact and ambassador for public engagement within their institution. The Fellow is also required to disseminate the outcomes of the Fellowship to colleagues at their employing institution.


Appointment criteria

Factors which will be taken into account when choosing candidates for appointment are:

  • Timeliness.
  • How relevant the applicant’s research is to the call theme (where applicable).
  • Whether the Fellowship will include cross-disciplinary or cross-institution activities.
  • Whether the Fellowship will be supported by contributions in-kind, such as hosting at a non-academic organisation.
  • Whether the Fellowship has the support and involvement of non-academic partners.
  • Whether there are plans for evaluation and dissemination strategies.
  • Whether the proposed work has the potential to leverage further funding.
  • Whether the proposed work has potential to feed into public policymaking process.
  • Whether the applicant has plans for post-Fellowship propagation of engagement activities in their home institution.
  • How the candidate will use the resources of the Beltane Network for their development plans.

Previous experience in public engagement activities will not necessarily be an advantage and we would encourage staff new to this area to apply. 


Questions and advice

 We encourage anyone considering an application for a Beltane Fellowship to contact us before submitting their form. Beltane staff will be able to offer informal advice and answer any specific questions you may have.