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Fellow of the British Academy

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Fellow of the British Academy

British Academy
Carlton House Terrace
Formation 1902 (society)
1902 (Royal Charter)
Type national academy
Legal status charity
Headquarters 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, United Kingdom
Membership 900
President Sir Adam Roberts

The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national body for the humanities and the social sciences. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

It receives an annual grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In 2011-12 it had a gross income of £29,783,255, including £27,001,000 from BIS. £26,297,126 was distributed during the year in research grants, awards and charitable activities.[1]

The British Academy was established in 1902 and received its Royal Charter in the same year. It is now a fellowship of more than 900 leading scholars spanning all disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. The Academy is a self-governing and independent registered charity, based at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace in London.


The Academy states its fundamental purposes under four headings:

  • As a Fellowship composed of distinguished scholars, elected by their peers, it takes a lead in representing the humanities and social sciences, facilitating international collaboration, providing an independent and authoritative source of advice, and contributing to public policy and debate.
  • As a learned society, it seeks to foster and promote the full range of work that makes up the humanities and social sciences, including inter- and multi-disciplinary work.
  • As a funding body, it supports excellent ideas, individuals and intellectual resources in the humanities and social sciences, enables UK researchers to work with scholars and resources in other countries, sustains a British research presence in various parts of the world and helps attract overseas scholars to the UK.
  • As a national forum for the humanities and social sciences, it supports a range of events, activities and publications (print and electronic) which aim to stimulate curiosity, to inspire and develop future generations of scholars, and to encourage appreciation of the social, economic and cultural value of these disciplines.


The creation of a “British Academy for the Promotion of Historical, Philosophical and Philological Studies” was first proposed in 1899 in order that Britain could be represented at meetings of European and American academies. The organisation, which has since become simply “the British Academy”, was initiated as an unincorporated society on 17 December 1901, and received its Royal Charter from King Edward VII on 8 August 1902.[2]

Since then, many of Britain’s most distinguished scholars in the humanities and social sciences have been involved in the life of the Academy, including John Maynard Keynes, Isaiah Berlin, C. S. Lewis and Henry Moore.

Until 1927-8 the Academy had no premises. Then it moved to some rooms in No. 6 Burlington Gardens. In 1968 it moved the short distance to Burlington House. It subsequently moved to headquarters near Regent’s Park. Then in 1998 the Academy moved to its present headquarters in Carlton House Terrace. One of London’s finest Georgian treasures overlooking St James’s Park, the Terrace was designed by John Nash and built in the 1820s and 1830s. Number 10 was formerly the London residence of the Ridley family and number 11 was from 1856 to 1875 the home of Prime Minister William Gladstone.

In March 2010, the Academy embarked on an ambitious £2.75m project to renovate and restore the public rooms in No. 11, following the departure of former tenant the Foreign Press Association, and link the two buildings together. The work was completed in January 2011 and the new spaces include a new 150-seat Wolfson Auditorium are available for public hire.

The history, problems and achievements of the Academy have been recorded in works by two of its Secretaries. Sir Frederic Kenyon’s slim but useful volume of 37 pages covers the years up to 1951;[3] Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s characteristically incisive, amusing and informative volume covers the years 1949 to 1968.[4]


Election as a Fellow of the British Academy recognises high scholarly distinction in the humanities or social sciences, evidenced by published work. Fellows may use the letters FBA after their names. Fellows are elected into one of the following disciplinary sections:[5]


  • Classical Antiquity
  • Theology and Religious Studies
  • African and Oriental Studies
  • Linguistics and Philology
  • Early Modern Languages and Literatures
  • Modern Languages, Literatures and other Media
  • Archaeology
  • Medieval Studies
  • Early Modern History to c1800
  • Modern History from c1800
  • History of Art and Music
  • Philosophy

Social Sciences

  • Law
  • Economics and Economic History
  • Anthropology and Geography
  • Sociology, Demography and Social Statistics
  • Political Studies: Political Theory, Government and International Relations
  • Psychology

There are also three 'ginger groups' to address the specific needs of Management and Business Studies, Education, and Cultural, Communications, Media & Performance Studies.

Funding schemes

The British Academy channels substantial public funding into support for individuals and organisations pursuing humanities and social sciences research and scholarship in the UK and overseas. These funding schemes are designed to aid scholars at different stages of their academic career and include Postdoctoral Fellowships, Wolfson Research Professorships, Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships, Small Research Grants and British Academy Research Projects.

In addition to its main public funds supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Academy also draws on private funds arising from gifts, legacies, contributions made by Fellows and grants from research foundations to support a further range of research activities. In 2011/12 around 1,000 research awards worth over £17 million were made to individuals based in over 100 different universities across the UK, with a further £6.8m spent on international research.

International work

In order to promote the interests of UK research and learning around the world, the Academy works to create frameworks to support international networking and collaboration and develop the role of humanities and social sciences research in tackling global challenges. It draws on expertise from a wide range of sources from within the fellowship and on specialist advice from its seven Area Panels for Africa, China, the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and Latin America/Caribbean.

The Academy also funds and coordinates a network of overseas institutes which provide local expertise, logistical support and often a working base for UK scholars. These include research institutes in Amman, Ankara, Athens, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Rome and Tehran, as well as UK-based specialist learned societies which run strategic research programmes in other parts of the world including Africa, Latin America and South and South East Asia.

Higher Education and Research

As the UK's national voice for the humanities and social sciences, the British Academy seeks to promote and protect the interests and health of these disciplines and their research base. It makes independent representations to the Government and other bodies on relevant Higher Education and Research issues, contributes statements and submissions to formal consultations and organises a range of policy events and discussions, liaising regularly with learned societies, universities, national academies and other relevant organisations.

British Academy Policy Centre

The Centre was established in October 2009 initially funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council from March 2010. It oversees a programme of activity engaging the expertise within the humanities and social sciences to shed light on policy issues.

It produces substantive reports making recommendations on public policy and practice. These include:

  • Schumpeter's nightmare? Legitimacy, trust and business in Britain This report, written by Professor Michael Moran FBA, examines whether the legitimacy of business – its ability to command some sort of moral authority – is in decline.
  • School league tables: A short guide for head teachers and governors This guide, written by Professor Harvey Goldstein FBA, summarises what the existing academic evidence tells us about some of the problems associated with the use of school league tables.
  • Human enhancement and the future of work This report summarises technological advancements that could dramatically change how people work over the next decade.
  • Human rights and the UK constitution This report evaluates the workings of the UK human rights law, and the nature of the relationship between the ECHR and the UK courts and the Parliament.
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh organised a pair of conferences to discuss Scotland's past, present and future relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. This report is a record of the views expressed by the speakers and attendees at those events.

The Centre's activities also include organising policy events and discussions.

Public events

The British Academy organises a wide-ranging annual programme of more than 50 public lectures, panel discussions, conferences and seminars showcasing new research and debating topical issues. This includes a number of long-established lecture series, such as the Shakespeare Lecture, first given in 1911. Most events are free and most take place at the Academy’s headquarters in Carlton House Terrace.

Award of prizes

The British Academy awards a total of 15 Prizes and Medals, most of them awarded annually. These include the Wiley Prize for Psychology, founded in 2009; the Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize, created in 2011; and the British Academy President’s Medal, created in 2010 and awarded to up to five recipients each year who have demonstrated “signal service to the cause of the humanities and social sciences”.

Presidents of the British Academy, 1902–present

Secretaries of the British Academy, 1902–present



  • British Academy Review
  • Past, Present and future: the public value of the humanities and social sciences
  • British Academy Annual Report 2011/12
  • Higher Education Statements and Submissions

Publications - Policy Centre

  • Human enhancement and the future of work
  • A briefing on the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill
  • Human rights and the UK constitution
  • Scotland and the United Kingdom

Lectures and Conferences Papers

  • British Academy Original Paperbacks
  • British Academy Occasional Papers
  • Proceedings of the British Academy
  • Reissues of Proceedings lectures
  • Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology
  • Symposia
  • Thank-Offering to Britain Fund Lectures


  • Archaeological reports (including BAMA)
  • British Academy Centenary Monographs
  • Miscellaneous research publications
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs
  • Supplemental Papers

Research series

See also


External links

  • The British Academy
  • Carlton House Terrace
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