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Home Advance HE’s Equality Charters Athena SWAN Charter Athena SWAN in Research Institutes

Athena SWAN in Research Institutes

In April 2014, Athena SWAN membership was extended to include research institutes (RIs). Prior to this, RIs could only achieve Athena SWAN membership and awards if they held higher education institution (HEI) status, or were constituent units/institutes in an HEI. Only independent research institutes focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) research were eligible to apply.

The extension of Athena SWAN to RIs was done at the request of those working in- and with- RIs. They identified that there can be similar barriers to career progression for women in RIs and that the Charter could be adapted because of the close relationship between HEIs and RIs.

In May 2015, Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter was expanded to include institutions, departments and research institutes that focus on the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL) disciplines. This expanded remit includes staff in professional support roles, trans staff and students, and recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just the barriers to progression that affect women.

The research institutes’ application form has therefore been revised in line with the expanded framework.

If you have any queries, please contact the Charters Team at

Guidance for applications >

Applications for Advance HE's Athena SWAN awards are accepted in April and November each year. The deadline is the last working day in the month.

Applicants must inform the Athena SWAN team of their intention to submit an application in advance of each deadline by completing the webform which will be made available each round.

For applications under the expanded post-May process, Advance HE's Athena SWAN application handbook: research institutes should be read in conjunction with the application form.

Applicants seeking a Gold award should refer to specific Gold application guidance.

The criteria for each award level can be found within the Research Institute handbook (see above); the criteria are additive, i.e. Silver applications must demonstrate how they have met the Bronze criteria as well as the Silver criteria to be successful.  A summary of the criteria can be found here.

Application forms >

Applications should be completed in conjunction with the Athena SWAN application handbook: research institutes (expanded post-May forms).

Expanded post-May research institute applications

Note: the Gold research institute form was amended in February 2017.


Research Institute Advisory Group >

The purpose of the Research Institute Advisory Group (RIAG) is:

To meet and help Athena SWAN understand the structural and operational issues that may differ between research institutes and higher education institutions.

More information on the role and aims of RIAG can be found in the terms of reference

Advance HE organises regular meetings for members and full meeting information is sent via the RIAG jiscmail list. You can also contact the Athena SWAN team for more information.

RIAG JiscMail

All RIs who are members of the Athena SWAN Charter can sign up to the RIAG jiscmail list, which is an opportunity to keep in touch with Athena SWAN events and news, and to post anything which might be of interest to other members.

Eligible institutes >

Pre-requisites for applying using the research institute application process:

  • The applicant research institute must be independent of a higher education institution (HEI). Institutes which are constituent units of or institutes in an HEI, or hold HEI status, should apply using the HEI department/institution application form.
  • The applicant institute must be a member of Advance HE's Athena SWAN Charter and signed up to the Charter principles.  You can do this by completing and returning this Athena SWAN Charter research institute letter template to
  • The applicant institute must not have outstanding membership fees.

Advance HE's Equality Charters team can provide advice regarding whether your research institute is eligible to apply.

Members >


  • Babraham Institute
  • British Antarctic Survey
  • British Geological Survey
  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Centre for Environment Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
  • Diamond Light Source
  • Dstl
  • Institute of Cancer Research
  • Institute of Zoology (part of Zoological Society of London)
  • James Hutton Institute
  • John Innes Centre
  • Marine Scotland Science
  • Met Office
  • Moredun Research Institute
  • MRC Harwell
  • National Oceanography Centre
  • Natural History Museum
  • Pirbright Institute
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Quadram Institute Bioscience
  • Rothamsted Research
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
  • Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA)
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Organisation
  • The Alan Turing Institute
  • The Earlham Institute
  • The Francis Crick Institute
  • The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
  • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Details of award holders can be found here

Events >

The next annual research institute workshop will be held on Wednesday 20 March 2019 at The Pirbright Institute, Ash Road, Pirbright, Woking, GU24 0NF. 

Presentations will include:

  • Demonstrating impact for Silver applications;
  • Applying an intersectional analysis of gender and ethnicity;
  • Making good decisions in groups; and
  • Developing active bystander training.

Attendance is free for two members of each research institute; you can sign up to attend here.

On 26 March 2018 an event for research institutes was held at the Institute of Cancer Research. The aim of this research institute-specific workshop was provide an opportunity for members to engage with each other, share good practice and network, whilst receiving practical advice on how to improve gender equality within their workplace. The presentations from the event can be found below.

Materials from the July 2016 workshop can be found below.

Membership fees >

The membership fee for research institutes is £2000 per annum. There are no application fees.