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Outreach and public engagement

Staff and students in SoPA run and take part in a huge range of activities engaging the public with physics research. Getting involved in some outreach volunteering during your degree can be a great way to build communication skills by promoting physics to the public - which could mean anything from nursery-age children to non-specialist adults.

Some of our activities that use student volunteers include:

  • city centre science busking
  • visits to schools (primary, secondary or sixth form)
  • schools workshops on campus
  • physics talks
  • demos at science festivals (including Manchester Science Festival and bluedot)

Get involved


'UoM Physics Outreach (lovingly referred to as UMPO) is a student-led public engagement body in the University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy. With an ever growing team of over 100 volunteers, we work to challenge preconceptions about science as a field, break down barriers between communities in Manchester and promote studying physics as an option for young people from all backgrounds. UMPO regularly sends students out either 'science busking' around Manchester or into schools to deliver specialist workshops, as well as to festivals and large-scale events further afield.' More information, or follow them on Twitter @UoMPhysOutreach


'STEMSoc is a University of Manchester student outreach society. Our aims are to engage the the public with science, to encourage children to pursue a career in STEM, and to help fix the gender gap in these fields.' More information, or follow them on Twitter @STEMSoc

Write for Planet Bee

If you're interested in science writing, art, graphic design, marketing or editing, UoM's science magazine Planet Bee are looking for any students who are passionate about science communication. See Facebook, Instagram, Wordpress or Twitter.

International Society Schools visits

While it's not science specific, the international society runs primary school visits - more info here

Other student volunteering

The University's central Volunteer Hub has information on many other volunteering opportunities both on campus and through external charities and other not-for-profit organisations - see their site for further information.

Outside the university

Become a STEM ambassador

'STEM Ambassadors' is a national volunteer programme, organised locally by the Museum of Science and Industry. If you register as an ambassador you'll get some training and a DBS check, and every week you'll receive an email list of local schools or public events looking for volunteers. The only requirement is to take part in one event a year. More information.

Institute of Physics

The IoP have a number of volunteer opportunities, including for their outreach events (mostly stalls and busking at science festivals). Sign up for information.

Manchester Girl Geeks

MGG put on a lot of science events for young people, usually on a Sunday afternoon. Info here.

Science and Industry Museum, Castlefield

See their website for current volunteering roles and a contact form.

Outreach Team

Contact information for SoPA staff working in outreach and engagement.

Emma Nichols image

Emma Nichols

Public engagement manager - Emma Nichols

I organise schools and public events in Physics & Astronomy, working with both staff and PG/UG volunteers, and act as the point of contact when teachers want to request an activity. I'm based in the Schuster Building.

I can help with:

  • borrowing outreach equipment
  • helping develop or deliver new activities or resources
  • advice on outreach volunteering or careers

Isaac Physics teaching fellow - Lloyd Cawthorne

Having studied both my MPhys (2012) and PhD (nuclear theory, 2016) at Manchester I am now working in both teaching and outreach in the School. The bulk of my outreach work concentrates on building students’ confidence and problem solving skills. I do this using resources from Isaac Physics that combine both physics and maths in ways that are typically not done in school. My teaching role is currently dedicated to delivering tutorials to first and second years.