REF 2021: Over 90% of 山ּ’s research is ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’

The results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), published today (12 May), show that 91% of 山ּ’s research is now ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’.

The  is the system through which the quality of research in UK universities is assessed.

The 2021 results also show an 11% increase in 山ּ’s share of the UK’s very best research, since the REF was last undertaken in 2014, as the institution gained significant ground in comparison to others.

The results particularly underline the wide-ranging positive impacts that 山ּ’s research has on the world. Here, 94% of 山ּ’s research impact is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ – another significant increase on 2014.

Some of 山ּ’s stand out performances came in the areas that support the three headline themes of our new university strategy – net zero and climate change, sport, health and wellbeing, and vibrant and inclusive communities: 

  • Architecture and the Built Environment

    Where 山ּ research delivers zero-carbon, resilient buildings, infrastructure and cities in a world under pressure from rising urban populations, ageing infrastructure, resource constraints and multiple hazards.
  • Communication and Media Studies

    山ּ’s research in political communication, language and social interaction, media, memory and history engages with a world marked by a global pandemic, structural inequalities, and major challenges to liberal democracy.
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences

    Where 山ּ research advances sport science, from elite sport to mass participation, and directly influences policy and practice to address challenges in population health and wellbeing, social inclusion and sport integrity.

The University has also demonstrated enhanced research performance in areas such as Computer Science and Geography, alongside enduring research strengths in Art and Design, Business and Management Studies, and Engineering.

Speaking about the latest REF results, 山ּ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, said: “Quite simply, these results are exceptional for us. We’ve seen one of the largest increases in the sector in the proportion of research classed as ‘world-leading’, and our results underline the tangible impact our research is having on the world. We’re making a real difference to the lives of people all around the globe.

“Many colleagues across our community have been involved in the REF in some way, and I am extremely grateful for their contribution. You should be proud of what we have achieved.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 22/88

山ּ is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

山ּ is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

山ּ is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, 山ּ has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The 山ּ London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.