UK learned societies that are members of ICSU’s international Unions and Committees

Introduction to ICSU

The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a global non-governmental organisation whose mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. Its membership includes national scientific bodies and international scientific unions, as well as a number of scientific and special committees and associates. These bodies make up the ICSU "family".

ICSU promotes international scientific activity through planning and coordinating interdisciplinary research in areas of major importance to both science and society, actively advocating for freedom in the conduct of science, providing a forum for the exchange of scientific information and the development of scientific standards, and supporting over 600 scientific conferences, congresses and symposia per year worldwide, as well as the production of a wide range of newsletters, learned journals, proceedings and other publications. 

The Royal Society and ICSU

The Royal Society, as the UK’s academy of science, is the UK national member for ICSU. As such it pays the overall UK subscription, coordinates the UK response to ICSU consultations, provides input into ICSU policy documents, and attends triennial ICSU General Assemblies.

The Royal Society runs a Global Environmental Research Committee (GERC) to promote and coordinate UK participation in the activities of the global environmental research programmes and committees organised by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and its component bodies.  The Committee provides a unified forum to integrate the scientific development of UK participation in programmes like the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and DIVERSITAS.

UK learned societies and ICSU

UK adherence to the majority of ICSU international unions has been devolved to the relevant disciplinary learned societies.

The table below lists all the Unions and Committees of ICSU for which the Royal Society contributes part or all of the UK subscription, and the related learned societies in the UK.


ICSU body

Adhering body

Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW)

British Geological Survey

Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

International Astronomical Union (IAU )

Royal Astronomical Society

International Brain Research Organisation (ICRO)

British Neuroscience Association

International Cartographic Association (ICA)

British Cartographic Society

International Commission on
Optics (ICO)

Institute of Physics (IoP)

International GeoBiosphere
Programme (IGBP)

The Royal Society

International Geological
Correlation Programme (IGCP)

Geological Society

International Geographical Union (IGU)

Royal Geographical Society

International Mathematical
Union (IMU)

London Mathematical Society

International Union for
Quaternary Research (INQUA)

Quaternary Research Association

International Union Biochemistry
and Molecular Biology (IUBMB)

The Biochemical Society

International Union of
Crystallography (IUCr)

British Crystallographic

International Union of Food
Science and Technology (IUFoST)

UK Federation of Food Science Technology (UKFFST)

International Union of Geodesy
and Geophysics (IUGG)

The Royal Society

International Union of Geological
Sciences (IUGS)

Geological Society

Division of History of Science International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS)

British Society for the History
of Science

International Union of
Microbiological Sciences (IUMS)

Several, including the Royal Society. For more information contact Society for General Microbiology

International Union of Nutritional
Sciences (IUNS)

The Nutrition Society

International Union of Pure and
Applied Biophysics (IUPAB)

British Biophysical Society

International Union of Pure and
Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

Royal Society of Chemistry

International Union of Pure and
Applied Physics (IUPAP)

Institute of Physics

International Union of
Pharmacology (IUPHAR)

British Pharmacological Society

International Union of
Physiological Sciences (IUPS)

The Physiological Society

International Union of
Psychological Sciences (IUPsyS)

British Psychological Society

International Union of
Theoretical and Applied
Mechanics (IUTAM)

The Royal Society

Scientific Committee on
Antarctic Research (SCAR)

The Royal Society. For more information contact the British Antarctic Survey

Scientific Committee on
Problems of the Environment (SCOPE)

The Royal Society. For more information contact the SCOPE working group

Scientific Committee on
Oceanic research (SCOR)

The Royal Society

Scientific Committee on Solar-
Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP)

CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Union of Radio Science (URSI)

The Royal Society