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The British Science Association (BSA) is a charity established under Royal Charter and governed by a Council which forms the Board of Trustees.

Our mission is to transform the diversity and inclusivity of science; to reach under-served audiences and increase the number of people who are actively engaged and involved in science. By unlocking the potential of a more diverse group of people, we increase our ability to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges and shape our future for the better.

The BSA has an annual income of approximately £2.7 million and is managed by a professional staff of around 30 people based in London. We are funded by a mix of grants, sponsorships, donations and earned income.


The BSA is governed by a Council which forms the board of trustees, chaired by Lord David Willetts. Up to four members of Council are elected from the BSA's General Committee (a strategic advisory body). Up to four Council members are appointed by Council, usually to meet a need for a particular skillset or experience. One of the appointed members acts as Deputy Chair and deals with day-to-day governance matters. Council also includes a Treasurer and up to three Vice-Presidents, one for each of our three programme teams: Engagement, Education and Cultural Development.

Council members typically serve one or two three-year terms. Council meets for four afternoons each year, in March, June, September and December in central London.

Your role

As Chair, your role is to provide strategic oversight of the BSA's vision and aims, and to represent the BSA to key external audiences.

Your responsibilities as Chair will be to:

  • Represent the BSA externally and act as a spokesperson for the BSA, including with stakeholders, influencers, funders and the media
  • Set the organisation's strategy and direction, working collectively with other Council members
  • Leverage your networks to raise the BSA's profile and funding- Chair Council meetings
  • Ensure Council operates effectively, complies with relevant legislation and adheres to guidance on good governance
  • Provide support and challenge to the chief executive and her colleagues
  • Regularly review and improve the board's effectiveness
  • Demonstrate leadership on the BSA's commitment to improve diversity and inclusion
  • Approve the Trustees' annual report to the UK's charity regulators

You will not be required to oversee day-to-day governance or financial matters as they are dealt with by the Deputy Chair and Treasurer.

As a member of Council, you will be a charity trustee. Therefore, together with the other members of Council, you will focus on the key issues, opportunities and risks facing the BSA, and provide guidance on strategic direction to the BSA's staff.

What we are looking for

To get the most out of being on the BSA's Council, we suggest that you have a passion for our vision and goals and can commit to the time and effort required. Our Council members need strategic vision, independent judgement, and an ability to work effectively as part of a team.

As one of the charity's most senior representatives, you will have extensive and senior networks in business and/or policy. It would be helpful to have commercial skills and experience of working on or with boards. Leadership abilities, communication skills, good judgement, and personal gravitas will be very valuable.

Experience of research or education would be useful but is not essential. We are especially keen to hear from people from communities who are currently under-represented on Council, including people from ethnic minority backgrounds and people with disabilities.

Terms and conditions

This is a volunteer (pro bono) role and there is no salary. Reasonable out of pocket expenses may be claimed on submission of appropriate documentation.

Terms of appointment
The initial term is three years. Council members are eligible for re-election at the expiry of that term, for one additional term.

Time commitment
There are four Council meetings per year, lasting four hours each. The Chair is also expected to preside over three to five BSA stakeholder events per year and be available for media interviews or comments linked to these events or to other BSA activities. The Chair is expected to be available for ad hoc meetings or phone calls with key staff or other Council members, occasionally at short notice, thought this is unlikely to happen more than a dozen times per year and can be arranged to fit around the Chair's other commitments.

How to apply
To put yourself forward for this volunteer role, please send a CV and a brief covering letter outlining your suitability for the role to Katherine Mathieson (details below) by 9 November 2018. We will prepare a shortlist for the BSA's Council to review and then invite one or more people for an informal interview with Council members.

Please highlight any potential conflicts of interest. References and other checks will be carried out before any invitation to join Council is issued.

For an informal conversation about the organisation or the role, please contact the Chief Executive, Katherine Mathieson:

Katherine Mathieson
Chief Executive
British Science Association
Wellcome Wolfson Building, 165 Queen's Gate, London, SW7 5HD