Physics Advocacy Programme

The decisions made by governments in the UK and in Ireland impact on physics wherever it is found.

They affect the recruitment and retention of specialist physics teachers, as well the curriculum itself. They determine the amount of money available for scientific research, impinging on the UK’s skills base and international competitiveness. And they shape the fiscal and regulatory landscape in which innovative physics-based companies carry out their business.

The Institute wants those responsible for such decisions to make the best choices for physics. We therefore work to influence the view of policy makers and communicate the value of physics through publications, events, and direct representations to parliamentarians and civil servants.

To facilitate member involvement in our work, several of the Institute’s activities have been brought together as the Physics Advocacy Programme. There are a number of ways to get involved in helping to influence physics policy:

Fellowships and intern schemes
There are also opportunities to undertake an internship with the Institute, in which physics undergraduates or graduates can gain experience of working in a policy environment for two–three months. There is the chance to apply for an internship at the Scrutiny Unit of the House of Commons, assisting one of the select committees with a piece of policy work. And the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology operates a Fellowship programme in which a postgraduate student of physics can spend a three-month secondment writing a POSTnote – a four-page briefing on an area of physics. More information is available on the Fellowships section of the website.

Continuing Professional Development
The Institute offers its members a range of professional-development opportunities. We also provide clear guidance for members on how to document and evidence their experience of working to influence policy, and work towards Chartered Physicist status.

More details are available from the website’s Professional Development pages.

Events
The Institute is a supporter of the Voice of Young Science programme, encouraging early-career researchers to play active roles in public debates about science.

There is also the opportunity to get involved in Voice of the Future, which gives early-career scientists and engineers the opportunity to ask questions of policy makers directly.

The 2014 event is set to take place in parliament on 19 March. Early-career physicists interested in posing questions in a real evidence-session setup can apply to attend by emailing a suggested question of no more than 50 words to public.engagement@iop.org.

A video of the 2013 event is available on the UK Parliament website.

Consultations and reports
The Institute responds to consultations by government and other organisations in policy areas relating to physics. Recently submitted consultations are available from the policy section of the website, and members are encouraged to give input to current consultations through the discussion forums on the members' area of the website.

IOP also publishes authoritative reports on areas of physics and physics policy, and collects statistics to help ensure that our arguments are backed by solid evidence.

Regular policy briefing notes are issued to MPs, and these can be seen in the policy section of the website.

To sign up to receive information on opportunities as they arise, please email public.engagement@iop.org