Pairing scheme

This scheme builds bridges between Parliamentarians, Civil Servants and some of the best research scientists in the UK.

Miller and Nguyen Andrew Miller MP and Dr Thanh Nguyen

Participating scientists are paired with either a Parliamentarian or Civil Servant and the Royal Society supports them by arranging a 'Week in Westminster' and reciprocal visits.

The scheme aims to help Parliamentarians and Civil Servants establish longstanding links with practising research scientists and to help research scientists understand political decision making and its associated pressures.

Since 2001 over 250 scientists have been paired with Parliamentarians and Civil Servants.

Previous participants include Rt Hon John Denham MP, Nick Clegg MP, Julia Goldsworthy MP, Ed Vaizey MP and Anne Snelgrove MP as well as Civil Servants from across government and scientists from universities and research centres across the UK.

In 2012, the Royal Society hosted the first event for alumni of the scheme. This was an opportunity to meet and to discuss their experiences, and how they have used their experience in both parliamentary work and research.

In 2013, the scheme was expanded to include members of the House of Lords. The first Peer who took part in the scheme was Professor Lord Robert Winston (read the case study).

See all 2013 case studies.

Benefits for Parliamentarians and civil servants

Cloning, GM crops, Climate Change and nanotechnology: these are issues at the forefront of debate in Parliament. The Royal Society offers this scheme as an easy way to provide Parliamentarians with the opportunity to explore the science behind their decisions. By pairing MPs, Peers or Civil Servants with a leading scientist, both gain an understanding of the work behind the fundamental issues involved in each field.

Andrew Stunell MP and Dr Martin Attfield

Benefits for scientists

The Royal Society Pairing scheme offers scientists working in industry or academia the opportunity to understand the policy process and explore methods of sharing their knowledge with Government. Scientists will spend time together in their Laboratory and in turn in their paired MP’s constituency or Civil Servant's Government office. All scientists will participate in a ‘Week in Westminster’ providing a valuable insight into how science policy is formed.


Applicants are required to have at least two years postdoctoral research experience or equivalent research experience in industry. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate good communication skills, and in particular, an ability to communicate their research to a lay audience.

Read 2013 case studies below:

Applying for this scheme

The Pairing Scheme 2014 scheme is closed for applications from scientists.

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Format of the scheme

Week in Westminster
Programme of activities for the scientists, including a day with the MP or civil servant.

Reciprocal visits 
A visit to the MP's constituency or the civil servant's office and a visit to the scientist's research facilities.

This scheme is supported by the Government Office for Science.
Government Office for Science

"For a small input of time compared to other pairing schemes [it] enhances understanding and knowledge in a practical way."
Linda Gilroy MP who was paired with Professor Noel Morgan