British academy

Policy Centre Publications

A Presumption Against Imprisonment: Social Order and Social Values

This report explores issues surrounding the UK's high prison population, the reasons that the UK government and public might wish it to be lower, and how UK policymakers might intervene in the criminal justice system to achieve a lower prison population.

The study on crime, punishment and the prison was motivated by the fact that, despite frequent claims, coming from very different political perspectives, that we should radically reduce our reliance on imprisonment, we seem to be unable to do so. With this report, the British Academy offers a distinctive contribution to the ongoing debate about why and how we should try to reduce both the number of people we imprison, and the length of time for which many are imprisoned.

Published July 2014                     ISBN: 978-0-85672-615-6

Enlightening the Constitutional DebateEnlightening the Constitutional Debate

Between January 2013 and March 2014, the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh held a series of 11 focused events to look deeper into the issues affecting Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom following the Referendum on Scottish independence, which is due to take place on 18 September 2014.

This book contains a synthesis of the discussions which took place at each of these events, and also includes an introduction by Professor Iain McLean FBA FRSE, VIce President of Public Policy at the British Academy, and Professor Alan Alexander, General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

8 April 2014

sustainable prosperity documentSustainable Prosperity: New directions for social science research

On 20 February 2014 the British Academy and ESRC co-hosted a unique scoping workshop designed to explore issues around sustainable prosperity.

This interactive event brought a diverse range of people and perspectives together to discuss novel ideas and fresh approaches to the issue of building an economy that fosters sustainable prosperity.

The day was structured to allow them to focus upon Sustainable Prosperity as a general concept, before discussing the demands it places on our present thinking, and the research questions that it might raise for a wide range of disciplines.

 8 April 2014

The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage: The case for UK ratification

The British Academy and the Honor Frost Foundation present a Briefing Note which identifies five key reasons why the UK should ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

The centenary of the First World War is ample reminder that the remains of many British ships and seafarers rest on the seabed beyond our Territorial Sea. The UK should take advantage of the positive mechanisms set out in the Convention to safeguard the last resting places of so many and ensure that the UK’s interests are fully respected.

The Briefing Note looks at a number of issues: the protection of historic wrecks and those with verifiable links to the UK and her interests; the safeguarding of cultural heritage from plundering; the economic benefits such as potential savings and increased tourism; the UK’s position in international negotiations; and the wider societal benefits of growing the heritage sector and promoting research and education.

March 2014  

The shifting face of workplace pensions

The British Academy presents a report looking at occupational Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes.

The report compares DC pensions to Defined Benefit (DB) designs, drawing out the key advantages and disadvantages of both, analyses the variety of DC pensions that have been implemented around the world, and then focuses on the key design areas of occupational DC pensions: contribution rates, investment, decumulation and governance. Finally, the report draws out specific implications for the current debate on pension provision in the UK.

The report is authored by Professor Anthony Neuberger, Professor of Finance at Cass Business School, and includes an introduction by Professor Colin Crouch FBA (Co-ordinator EU FP7 Project GUSTO under which the report was originally written).

This report is being published thanks to the support of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research - Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities theme (contract nr 225301 - project GUSTO). 

February 2014      ISBN 978-0-85672-612-5

“If you could do one thing...” Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities

The British Academy presents a collection of opinion pieces on health inequalities from leading social scientists. Each of the authors has written an article, drawing on the evidence base for their particular area of expertise, identifying one policy intervention that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities.

The report seeks to help local policymakers improve the health of their communities by presenting evidence from the social sciences that can help reduce inequalities in health. With a foreword from Sir Michael Marmot, the report further explores what The Marmot Review confirmed: that socio-economic inequalities affect health outcomes and that there is a social gradient in health. In some senses this is a social sciences dialogue companion to The Marmot Review.

January 2014      ISBN 978-0-85672-611-8

Wales, the United Kingdom and Europe

The British Academy, in partnership with the Learned Society of Wales, present a report that reviews the complex relations between Wales and the United Kingdom as a whole, and within Europe.

The report is a summary of two conferences, hosted by the Learned Society of Wales and the British Academy, in May 2013. The conferences brought together academics from across the humanities and social sciences to offer unique insights into questions on Welsh governance, public spending and diplomacy within the UK and within the EU framework. 

October 2013      ISBN 978-0-85672-608-8

Scotland LogoEnlightening the Constitutional Debate: Currency, Banking and Financial Services after the Scottish Referendum

On 24 July 2013 the British Academy held an invitation-only Policy Forum to discuss the questions surrounding banking and financial services in the aftermath of the referendum on Scottish independence. The intention of this forum was to discuss the currency options available to an independent Scotland and the implications of that choice for the rest of the UK, as well as the knock-on implications for fiscal rules and financial regulation.

This report summarises the presentations as well as the debate that took place during this forum.

Published 10 September 2013

Scotland LogoEnlightening the Constitutional Debate: Tax and Spending after the Scottish Referendum

On 17 April 2013 the British Academy held an invitation-only Policy Forum to discuss the taxation, public spending and block grant scenarios that could unfold after the referendum on Scottish independence. The intention of this forum was to discuss what future lies ahead for the Barnett Formula (allocating block grant to Wales and Northern Ireland) if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom altogether, or in the event that the Calman report is acted upon, bringing the Scotland Act into force. Other key issues which were discussed include the future of formula funding for services relating to health, education and local government in England. 

This report summarises the presentations as well as the debate that took place during this forum.

Published 3 June 2013

Schumpeter’s Nightmare? Legitimacy, trust and business in Britain

‘Schumpeter’s nightmare? Legitimacy, trust and business in Britain’ examines whether the current mistrust and disgruntlement towards British business is just a straightforward reaction to the recent financial crisis or whether this is part of a longer term decline that could threaten its long term survival, as predicted in the 1940s by renowned Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter.

Author: Michael Moran FBA

Steering group: Tim Besley FBA, Colin Crouch FBA, Andrew Gamble FBA

52 pages
Published 31 January 2013    ISBN 978-0-85672-606-4

School league tables: A short guide for head teachers and governors

The guide, written by Professor Harvey Goldstein FBA, summarises what the existing academic evidence tells us about some of the problems associated with the use of school league tables. It warns that league tables are a simplistic measure and do not adequately examine the underlying relationship between the quality of what schools provide and the results of tests and examinations. Using this guide, head teachers and school governors should feel emboldened to point out some of the drawbacks of school league tables to avoid misleading interpretations by parents, the press and the wider public.

The guide is based on the report ‘Measuring Success’ that was written by Professor Goldstein and Beth Foley and published by the Academy’s Policy Centre in March 2012.

Author: Harvey Goldstein

Published 24 January 2013 

Human enhancement and the future of work

In early 2012 the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society hosted a joint workshop to consider the implications of human enhancement technologies for the future of work. 

The report summarises technological advancements that could dramatically change how people work over the next decade. These technologies, such as cognitive enhancing drugs, bionic limbs and retinal implants, affect various human capacities such as memory, hearing and mobility. The report explores how, although human enhancement technologies might aid society, their use could raise serious ethical, philosophical, regulatory and economic issues that will need further consideration.

Chair: Professor Genevra Richardson CBE FBA (Chair)

Steering group: Professor Paul Edwards FBA, Dr Robin Lovell-Badge FRS FMedSci, Mr Phil Newman, Professor Barbara Sahakian FMedSci, Professor Nigel Shadbolt FREng, Professor Jonathan Wolff. 

Published 7 November 2012 

A briefing on the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill

On 19 October 2012 this Private Members’ Bill, introduced by Baroness Cox of Queensbury, will have its second reading in the House of Lords. This briefing informs the debate around the bill and covers:

  • The existing academic evidence about minority legal orders, of which sharia is only one;
  • The demand from women for religious tribunals;
  • How protecting women is a concern in relation to religious tribunals;
  • Alternatives to prohibiting minority legal orders and the ways in which the state can work with minority legal orders.
15 October 2012

Human rights and the UK constitution

The UK human rights framework has been the subject of considerable controversy. This report clarifies the workings of the UK human rights law, and the nature of the relationship between the ECHR and the UK courts and the Parliament. It concludes that changing the existing system, and introducing a British Bill of Rights as so many suggest, may be a difficult and thankless task.

Author: Colm O'Cinneide 

Steering group: Vernon Bogdanor CBE FBA, John Eekelaar FBA, David Feldman QC FBA, Sandra Fredman QC (Hon) FBA, Conor Gearty FBA, Francesca Klug OBE. 

Published 27 September 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-605-7

Scotland and the United Kingdom

In early 2012 the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh organised a pair of conferences to discuss Scotland’s past, present and future relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. This report is a record of the views expressed by the speakers and attendees at those events.

Author: Beth Foley

Published 24 September 2012 



The 'Big Society' and concentrated neighbourhood problems

 The report traces the history of the 'Big Society' concept and concludes that cuts to funding from the state are damaging communities' ability to tackle local problems.

It is the final report in the New paradigms in public policy project.

Author: Anne Power

Chair: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA OBE

Working group for New paradigms in public policy:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Pat Thane FBA 

Published 11 September 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-604-0

Response to a call for evidence on the impact of demographic change on public services

This response to the House of Lords Commitee on Public Service and Demographic Change summarises the report Demographic futures and calls for a change in attitudes and assumptions about ageing and older people in the UK.

5 September 2012 

Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child's Life (PDF file - 184 KB)

This response examines the four legislative proposals made by Ministry of Justice and Department for Education and concludes that none will have an effect on the larger number of non-resident parents who lose contact with their children without litigation occurring. However, the first three proposed clauses could cause harm to some children.

30 August 2012 

Demographic futures: Addressing inequality and diversity among older people

Demographic futures discusses the UK's ageing population, and emphasises the contributions that the older age group make to society.

It is published as part of the New paradigms in public policy project. 

Author: Pat Thane FBA

Chair: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA

Working group for New paradigms in public policy:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Pat Thane FBA 

Published 25 June 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-603-3

Nudging citizens towards localism?

Nudging citizens towards localism? examines the tension between the UK government's policies to decentralise and its policies to encourage behaviour change. 

Author: Peter John, with Liz Richardson

Steering group: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA (chair), Nick Chater, Graham Loomes 


Published 16 May 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-599-9


Public service broadcasting's continued rude health

Public service broadcasting's continued rude health gives an overview of the various ways in which public service broadcasting is structured and funded, and of the extent to which its output is distinctive, of high quality and capable of making a difference. 

Author: Chris Hanretty



88 pages
Published 25 April 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-602-6

Minority legal orders in the UK: Minorities, pluralism and the law

Minority legal orders in the UK examines what are often described as ‘parallel legal systems’. It discusses the UK experience of religious and cultural diversity underpinning minority legal orders and sets out the practical ways in which the state can respond to and work with them.

Author: Maleiha Malik

Steering group: John Eekelaar FBA, Sue Mendus FBA (chair), Hugh Williamson FBA

64 pages
Published 19 April 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-601-2

Measuring Success: League tables in the public sector

Institutional rankings or ‘league tables’ are now widely used in the public sector. Measuring Success examines their application in education and policing, and reviews the available evidence to determine the benefits and the problems associated with them. 

Authors: Beth Foley and Harvey Goldstein

Steering group: Stephen Ball, David Bartholomew, Colin Crouch, Harvey Goldstein (Chair) 

76 pages
Published 29 March 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-600-2

A response to Scotland's Constitutional Future

The British Academy has responded to the Scotland Office consultation on facilitating a legal, fair and decisive referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.

12 March 2012

A response from the British Academy to the European Commission consultation on possible revisions to Council Directive 93/7/EEC

Directive 93/7/EEC makes provisions to ensure the return of national treasures removed from an EU member country and now located in another EU country.This response highlights the most urgent points the British Academy feel the European Commission should address regarding the functioning of the Directive.  

5 March 2012

Raising household saving

Raising household saving is a British Academy Policy Centre report prepared by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The report examines in detail what is known – and what is not known – about the effectiveness of various policies designed to increase saving by households. It offers a critical review of the literature in four main areas: financial incentives; information, education and training; choice architecture or ‘nudge’; and social marketing.

Authors: Thomas F Crossley, Carl Emmerson and Andrew Leicester

112 pages
Published 22 February 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-598-2

Post-immigration 'difference' and integration: The case of Muslims in Western Europe

Tariq Modood presents four different options for integration and equality of opportunity for all UK citizens. Some ethnic minorities may wish to assimilate; some to have the equal rights of integrated citizens; some to maintain the cultural differences of their group identities; and some to be free to choose cosmopolitan mixed identities.

It is published as part of the New paradigms in public policy project.

Author: Tariq Modood

Chair: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA

Working group:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Pat Thane FBA

68 pages
Published 9 February 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-597-5

Individual electoral registration and the future of representative democracy

This paper for the British Academy Review examines what individual electoral registration would mean, in particular how it would impact on constituency boundaries, and concludes that under the current proposals its introduction could have a profound impact on the nature of British representative democracy.

Authors: Ron Johnston FBA, Iain McLean FBA

13 January 2012

Building a new politics?

Building a new politics? argues that policymakers need to tackle the political malaise suffered by the average UK citizen. It lays out the academic approaches to improving political engagement, and calls on experts to draw on these and design new ways of tackling anti-political attitudes.

It is published as part of the New paradigms in public policy project.

Author: Gerry Stoker

Chair: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA

Working group:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Pat Thane FBA

70 pages
Published 11 January 2012    ISBN 978-0-85672-596-8

Climate change and public policy futures 

Climate change and public policy futures reviews current approaches to climate change and suggests that policy reversals and changes will be necessary to pursue 'green growth'.

It is published as part of the New paradigms in public policy project.

Author: Ian Gough

Chair: Peter Taylor-Gooby FBA

Working group for New paradigms in public policy:
Andrew Gamble FBA
Ian Gough
Tariq Modood
Anne Power
Gerry Stoker
Pat Thane FBA

78 pages
Published 26 July 2011    ISBN 978-0-85672-593-7