ras logoAll Fellows of the Society agree to be bound by the Royal Astronomical Society code of conduct.  Here are the details.


Byelaws 44 and 45, ‘Section X: Code of Conduct of Members’ of the RAS Byelaws approved in May 2015, direct that:

  • Council shall decide on a Code of Conduct which it shall cause to be openly published
  • Members shall be required upon election to commit to the Code
  • Annual renewal of membership will imply agreement to adhere to the Code
  • The Council shall decide on a procedure for the investigation of complaints made by member(s) that a member may have acted materially in contradiction to the Code or otherwise engaged in conduct likely to bring the Society into disrepute.

This Code of Conduct is a subordinate regulation to the RAS Byelaws and includes the procedure to be followed when a breach of the Code is alleged.

It is expected that some Members may disagree with others about some matters, or with some aspects of the Society’s activities, and that they may participate in a robust dialogue intended to settle the issues. However, in pursuing activities that impinge on the affairs or reputation of the Society, Members are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Conduct laid down by the Society. Failure to do so may lead to a formal investigation and action being taken by the Society against the Member concerned.


 Objectives, Purpose and Acceptance

  1. The Royal Astronomical Society encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.
  2. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to enable the Society to fulfil its Objectives and act as a safe and inclusive forum for free and fair debate on matters and issues concerning the sciences it promotes. It serves to safeguard and preserve the reputation and effective functioning of the Society.
  3. This Code sets out rights and responsibilities of Fellows of the RAS with respect to the Society as a whole and other Fellows. Fellows must at all times endeavour to act in the best interests of the Society and the sciences it seeks to promote.
  4. This Code also binds the Society and its Fellows to deal fairly, honestly and respectfully on matters concerning astronomy and geophysics with members of the wider public and society as a whole.
  5. By becoming or remaining an FRAS, individual Fellows are bound by this Code of Conduct and successor versions.
  6. The Executive Director, the elected Officers of the Society and the Council shall be responsible for enforcement of this Code of Conduct.
  7. This Code of Conduct will be reviewed periodically by Council, at least once every five years.'


General conduct

  1. Fellows must observe the provisions of the RAS Charter and Byelaws, and conduct their activities honourably, with integrity and to the highest professional standards.
  2. Fellows should seek to further the objectives of the Society at all times.
  3. Fellows must at all times behave with respect and consideration for other Fellows, RAS staff, potential Fellows and visitors to the RAS.
  4. Fellows should conduct themselves in accordance with the law and in a manner which does not damage the RAS or its reputation, or those of RAS staff, elected officers and councillors performing duties on behalf of the Society and should not take part in any activity which is in conflict with the overall objects of, or which might, without just cause, damage the reputation of, the Society.
  5. The RAS may take into account conduct which occurred prior to an individual becoming a Fellow in determining whether the standard Code of Conduct has been breached.
  6. Fellows are bound by the Code of Conduct at all meetings and events sponsored by the RAS, whether they be at RAS premises or elsewhere, and at all meetings and events where they can be considered to be representing the Society or can be identified as a Fellow.
  7. Fellows must respect the property of the Society, such as its premises, furnishings, facilities, collections and books, and follow the regulations for the use of its rooms and library.


Professional conduct

  1. As befits members of a scientific society, Fellows should exercise their decision-making, representational, advisory and advocacy roles related to the Society on the basis of fact, recognised constitutional procedure and sound professional judgement.
  2. In their scientific work, Fellows are bound by the Universal Ethical Code of Scientists (available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-ethical-code-for-scientists), as well as other codes listed at Appendix 1.
  3. The RAS Code of Conduct for Meetings, which all Fellows must follow at meetings and events organised or sponsored by the RAS, can be found at https://ras.ac.uk/code-conduct-ras-meetings.
  4. At all other professional meetings and events, organised by related societies and organisations, Fellows must respect the relevant codes of conduct and ethics.
  5. Where they may have conflicts of interest, Fellows should clearly acknowledge them and be open about them, and – if the conflicts are serious – take action to avoid them.


Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

  1. Fellows should treat other Fellows, RAS staff, potential Fellows and visitors to the RAS equally, irrespective of any “protected characteristics”, currently age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.  All of these are considered by Law as “protected characteristics” under the Equalities Act 2010.
  2. Fellows should refrain from any type of discrimination on the basis of physical appearance.
  3. As a learned scientific society, it is the proper function of the RAS to recognise professional excellence, outstanding achievement and initiative by the award of Society medals and honours, invitations to give talks, the distribution of funds for fellowships and grants, and other means of professional recognition. Aside from these proper and lawful activities, however, Fellows should not discriminate on the grounds of intellectual and/or professional achievement.
  4. Fellows are bound by the RAS policy on “Diversity, Equality and Inclusion” available at https://ras.ac.uk/node/14444.


Bullying, victimisation and harassment

  1. Whilst there is no strict legal definition of bullying, the RAS understands it to mean the use of power, threats, coercion or force to cause hurt or harm to others who are less able or unable to respond. Bullying may consist of a single incident or a series of repeated actions.
  2. Victimisation is considered to be the use of power, threats, coercion or force against someone who has legitimately asserted their rights or complained that their rights have been infringed (Equality Act 2010).
  3. Harassment is considered to be bullying and/or victimisation and/or unwanted conduct related to a “protected characteristic” with the aim of violating an individual’s dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual (Equality Act 2010).
  4. Bullying, victimisation and harassment are prohibited within the Society and its activities. This includes between Fellows and/or groups of Fellows, and between Fellows and staff. (Bullying, victimisation and harassment between RAS staff members who are not Fellows is considered a matter for RAS personnel procedures.)


Wider society

  1. In their dealings on matters concerning the sciences that the RAS sets out to promote, Fellows will treat members of the wider society, including policy-makers, members of the media and young people, according to the principles outlined above for the treatment of other Fellows and the RAS as a whole.
  2. When occasions to do so arise, Fellows will endeavour to give the best advice and information they can on the basis of fact and fact-supported theory.
  3. Fellows must not claim expertise or skill in any area of knowledge or professional practice in which they have insufficient competence, qualifications or experience.
  4. Where they may have conflicts of interest, Fellows should clearly acknowledge them and be open about them.
  5. The Government has published advice on the “Seven Principles of Public Life”, available at Appendix 1, which provides a reference point for Fellows’ behaviour in wider society.


Appendix 1:

  1. Geologists Association Fieldwork Codes: https://geologistsassociation.org.uk/codesofconduct/.
  2. The Seven Principles of Public Life: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life--2

Attachment to the Code of Conduct for RAS Members

Code of Conduct for attendees of Royal Astronomical Society Meetings/Events in Burlington House and elsewhere

The Royal Astronomical Society Fellows and staff value the participation of everyone at events and want all attendees to have an enjoyable experience. Accordingly, all attendees are expected to show respect and courtesy to other attendees and staff. Any RAS meeting/event (including those sponsored by the RAS) will be a discrimination and harassment-free environment for everyone. Discrimination on the basis of, for example, sex, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, belief, disability, being pregnant or having a child, age, physical appearance and level of intellectual/professional achievement will not be tolerated

The Society does not tolerate harassment of attendees in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race or religion; sexual images in public spaces; deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.


Expected behavior of participants/attendees at RAS meetings

Participants/attendees should:

  • Be on time for the start of a session.
  • In the lecture theatre/meeting room switch off mobile phones, and refrain from loud conversations outside the door.
  • Sit at the rear of the lecture theatre if using a lap-top computer, where possible.
  • Remember that lecturers give their time freely. Some are very distinguished; some are early career scientists giving a lecture at this level for the first time. All deserve a fair and encouraging hearing.
  • Be kind to others.
  • Not insult or put down other attendees.
  • Respect RAS staff.
  • Behave professionally.

All communication (given by lecturers, organisers and attendees) should be appropriate for a professional audience. Sexual language, sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes and imagery is not appropriate for any event. Participants/attendees asked to stop any discriminatory or harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Attendees violating these rules may be asked to leave the event, without a refund of any charge that may have been levied. Participants/attendees are entitled to raise a complaint. The Code of Conduct for RAS Members will apply if those involved are Members. Otherwise the matters should be raised with RAS staff who will involve the Executive Director if required. Thank you for helping to make all RAS meetings and events welcoming for all.