The British Association for the Advancement of Science or the British Science Association, formally known as the BA, is a learned society with the object of promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters, and facilitating interaction between scientific workers. Membership is open to all.
It was founded in 1831 and modelled on the German Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte . The prime mover was William Vernon Harcourt, following a suggestion by Sir David Brewster, who was disillusioned with the elitist and conservative attitude of the Royal Society. The first meeting was held in York on 27 September 1831  . From that date a meeting was held annually at some place chosen at a previous meeting.
One of the more memorable meetings held by the association, was the 1860 meeting at Oxford, where the now famous debate between Thomas Henry Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce took place (see the 1860 Oxford evolution debate). This meeting is widly viewed as the turning point in the evolution debate.
The Association's major emphasis in recent decades has been on public engagement in science. Its annual meeting, now called the Festival of Science, is the largest public showcase for science in the U.K. and attracts a great deal of media attention.
In addition to the Festival of Science, the British Science Association organises the UK National Science and Engineering Week, an opportunity for people of all ages to get involved in science, engineering and technology activities.
The Association also has a young people's programme, which seeks to involve school students in science beyond the school curriculum, and to encourage them to consider higher education and careers in science.
Reports of the meetings 1877-90 are available on