Policy Toolkit

Welcome to the Northern Bridge public policy engagement toolkit. This toolkit has been designed by Northern Bridge with input and contributions from organisations and agencies who work across central, local, devolved, and EU government.

Its purpose is to introduce arts and humanities researchers to the public policy development process, and to help you think about the wide range of ways your research can help shape public policy.


Whether you are planning a new project and want advice about how to work with policymakers and stakeholders, need guidance on writing a policy briefing or lobbying an MP, or simply want to know more about how public policy is developed, this toolkit provides the information, knowledge, and skills necessary to engaging with policymakers and influencing public policy.

The toolkit is organised into four areas:

Introduction to Public Policy

This section provides a basic introduction to the governing bodies in the United Kingdom and the European Union, and how they function and relate to each other.

It describes the roles of the UK Parliament, central government, and the civil service, as well as the devolved and local governments, and the European Union.

This is a good place to start if you need an overview of what any of these bodies do, and how they work.

Engaging with Policymakers

This section includes guides to engaging and working with Parliament, central, local, and devolved governments, the third sector, and the European Union.

It considers issues such as finding the right contact, how to pitch your research, what kinds of evidence and research policymakers are looking for, and the specific advantages to engaging with the different types of organisation.

Essential Skills

This section includes guidance on the skills needed to work with policymakers in a range of formal and informal ways.

It includes guidance on planning, outputs, and relationship-management.

It also includes a section on communicating for policy, which includes detailed advice on writing press releases, comment pieces, and policy briefings.

Case Studies

This section showcases examples of Northern Bridge academics whose research has influenced a wide range of public policy issues, from the treatment of psychosis-sufferers, to the protection of cultural property in conflict zones.

The toolkit was developed as part of a public policy training programme for doctoral students and early career researchers.

The participants took part in a two-day intensive residential school on 8 - 9 December 2015, following which they will be undertaking a range of placement opportunities over the coming months.

The participants' reflections on their experiences will be collated under the Participant reflections tab.

The toolkit and training programme were developed by the three Northern Bridge institutions, DurhamNewcastle, and Queen's Belfast universities, and is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.