About us


The Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) is a body providing independent advice and recommendations on science strategy, policy and priorities to the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland (CSA). It is a broadly-based group, including both practitioners and users of scientific innovation. The SSAC advises on a broad range of scientific issues and science-related policies that will contribute to growing the economy and raising quality of life in Scotland.

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for the Scottish Science Advisory Committee are to:

Advise the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser on a broad range of scientific issues and science-related policies that will grow our economy and raise our quality of life and will further enhance Scotland as a science nation.

  • The SSAC will provide advice to the CSA on science strategy, policy and priorities to allow the Scottish Government to make effective use of available scientific advice, knowledge and techniques in formulating and implementing policies to support the full range of its objectives.
  • The SSAC will take a medium to long term, horizon scanning, strategic view in formulating its advice.
  • The SSAC has a purely advisory role and does not direct any research expenditure.


The council membership are respected senior figures drawn from right across the science, business and academic communities and as a result will be an effective conduit between the SSAC and the science communities that make up the science base in Scotland and further afield.

Appointments to the SSAC, which do not receive any remuneration, are made for a three year period renewable for a further two. The appointments are made following a public advertisement and selection process. All appointments are made on merit and in order to achieve a balance across the scientific community.

The SSAC is not a formal public advisory body and there are no legal requirements in connection with the manner appointments are made or the way its conducts its business. However the arrangements for appointments to the SSAC draw strongly on the original Nolan recommendations in connection with appointments to public bodies.

The Council membership is supported by the SSAC Secretariat. The SSAC Secretariat is located within the Science and Government Division of the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser (OCSA). The primary function of the secretariat is to support SSAC by assembling and analysing information and recording conclusions. It advises SSAC on the processes and procedures and brings to its attention emerging issues of concerns to inform its deliberations.

Ways of Working

The Council has two co-chairs, the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland and Dr Chris Masters, Independent Co-Chair, each with a distinct role. The SSAC will principally advise and report, through its independent Co-Chair, to the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, who in conjunction with the Co-Chair, will then take forward this advice and recommendations in discussion with Ministers and Scottish Government officials.

The SSAC work programme is developed by its members in discussion with Scottish Government. The Scottish Government can ask SSAC to consider particular issues; the Council is under no obligation to agree to these requests if it believes that other work would be of greater value.

The Council decides the approach to each area of work on a case-by-case basis. It can also choose to deliver its advice to government by various routes including: publishing reports; through confidential written advice; and through discussions with ministers, officials and special advisers.