University of Southampton

Why we've signed the Manifesto

"Connecting our students and staff with the community deepens, complements, and challenges our learning and research, benefiting both the institution and the wider society."

Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice Chancellor, University of Southampton

Our approach to public engagement

The University of Southampton recognises public engagement as vital to its role in society locally, nationally and internationally. The University continues to seek new ways to engage with public bodies and stakeholders; its staff are committed to involving the public in the process and the results of their research; its undergraduate and postgraduate students are encouraged and supported to work with the public during their educational experience; and it actively promotes life-long learning in the community and further afield. Southampton welcomes the initiatives promoted by the NCCPE, and looks forward to building relationships with it and the other signatories to the manifesto.

Examples of our public engagement

Degree Shows, Winchester School of Art

Our annual BA Degree Show sees the whole campus turned into one large exhibition. It is a celebration of all the accomplishments of our graduating students and showcases the diversity of the work produced across our undergraduate programmes. Fashion students hold a catwalk show in the city centre and each year the event attracts hundreds of visitors. Participating in the Degree Show experience not only gives students the opportunity to promote their work in their own way, but to develop the organisational, practical and team working skills necessary for future success.

Science and Engineering Roadshows

During the “Oceans on Wheels” and the “Spectrum of Science” themed roadshows teams of young science and engineering researchers, assisted by undergraduate volunteers, visit schools and colleges across the region before a final stop at the Cheltenham Science Festival (2009 & 2010) or the Royal Society Summer Exhibition (2009).

Cancer Research outreach

Cancer researchers from the Centre attend the University of Southampton's annual Science and Engineering day, which attracted over 3,000 curious children and their parents. The Centre put on activities ranging from testing pH levels and learning about the importance of pH for cells in the labs, showing cells under a microscope and finally teaching children about DNA by creating DNA bracelets to take home.

The National Cipher Challenge

An annual web based nationwide code-breaking competition for schools and colleges. It was set up by the School of Mathematics at the University of Southampton and is designed to excite young people and engage them in STEM subjects. It is structured as an adventure story revealed over the Christmas term in a series of encoded messages which they are tasked with deciphering. It is now in its tenth year and last year attracted entries from 1459 teams from over 700 schools. While largely a UK competition, teams from across the world took part (see the map on Cipher Maths for details). The competition is sponsored by GCHQ (home of the professional code breakers in the UK), IBM, the British Computer Society and Trinity College Cambridge. The competition was designed and is run by Prof. Graham Niblo, Head of Pure Mathematics.

Citizenship Day 

On 17 March 2011, academic staff and students from Social Sciences ran a 'Citizenship Day' for pupils in three local schools. Organised by two PhD students in the Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance (C2G2), the day allowed pupils to consider how they might contribute to their local, national and international communities in the coming year. The event was attended by local MP Alan Whitehead and Andrea Rannard from Volunteering England.

In the past year, more than 150 000 people from 90 countries have joined Southampton scientists exploring volcanic vents on the ocean floor, via "live" expedition webpages that carry daily updates from their research ship, photos, video, and webchat facilities for visitors to interact with team members at sea.

Discover Oceanography 

University of Southampton oceanography engagementDuring the period October 2009 to September 2010 the Discover Oceanography programme, welcomed almost 11,500 visitors aboard the SOES Research Vessel Callista. During September the vessel featured at the 2010 Southampton Boat Show. As in 2009, Callista was a star attraction at the show for the full ten days. This year 8765 members of the public came aboard. Onboard were exhibits showing a wide range of practical, hands-on demonstrations including physical oceanography, deep sea engineering and the opportunity to view and handle live specimens of fish, crabs and other creatures, all of which were collected from Southampton Water. Exhibits were manned by students and staff from across the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Over 1600 people sailed aboard Callista and participated in one of the 62 Discover Oceanography sessions undertaken this year. These included groups who came from as far afield as Bristol, Chelmsford, Essex and Marlow, Bucks. In June the Discover Oceanography team sailed to Plymouth, taking the opportunity to participate in a session to schools from the local area. Ten children’s groups, totalling 296 people, from across Plymouth, were fortunate to benefit from this opportunity, supported by local company, Princess Yachts International.


Name: Laurie Stras

Title: Director of Postgraduate Studies for the Faculty of Humanities