Copley Medal

This medal is awarded for outstanding achievements in the physical sciences in odd years and the biological sciences in even years.

Copley Godfrey Copley FRS

The Copley Medal is the Society’s oldest and most prestigious award, having first been awarded in 1731. It has been awarded to several notable scientists, including Michael Faraday FRS, Charles Darwin FRS, Dorothy Hodgkin FRS and Francis Crick FRS.

The medal is awarded annually “for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science”. The award alternates between the physical and biological sciences (odd and even years respectively). In 2010, to mark the Society’s 350th anniversary, two Copley medals were awarded, one for each branch of science.

The Copley Medal was created following donations from Godfrey Copley FRS (PDF) and was initially awarded for the most important scientific discovery or for the greatest contribution made by experiment. In 1831 the conditions were changed so that it was awarded to the author of the research that the Council of the Society decided was the most deserving of the honour. The medal is of silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £5,000. 


The next call for nominations for this award opens on 28 November 2014.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Physical Sciences Awards Committee. Nominations are valid for five years after which the candidate cannot be re-nominated until a year after the nomination has expired. 

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of three years immediately prior to being proposed. There are no limitations on the period in which the research achievements were made and it may be given more than once to the same person.

Most recent medallist

Andre Geim

Professor Sir Andre Geim FRS was awarded the 2013 Copley Medal for his numerous scientific contributions and, in particular, for initiating research on two‚Äźdimensional atomic crystals and their artificial heterostructures.

Premier Awards

Copley Medal: For outstanding achievements in either the physical or biological sciences.

Royal Medal: For the most important contributions in the physical, biological and applied sciences.

Bakerian Lecture: The premier lecture in the physical sciences.

Croonian Lecture: The premier lecture in the biological sciences.

See all medals, awards and prize lectures

Photos of the Copley Medal

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