REF 2014

Research Repository

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Our Research Repository is a showcase for our cutting-edge research and an online archive to increase the visibility and impact of our pioneering work. This is part of our commitment to open access to our research.

Essex ranks in the top 20 UK universities for research excellence and the top 5 for social science research. Our politics research has been first in the UK since rankings began in 1986.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the national assessment of research quality and impact, has reconfirmed our diverse strength in conducting world-leading research. We entered 14 different subject areas into REF 2014, and seven of these were ranked in the UK’s Top 20 for research excellence, across social science, science and the humanities.

The results are used by the UK’s higher education funding bodies to allocate around £2 billion each year to university research. Our research impact case studies demonstrate the benefits of this investment, highlighting how our research improves society and economic prosperity.

The REF replaced the national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which was last conducted in 2008.

Our rankings

Research excellence rankings

League table compilers use REF results in different ways to assess quality, intensity and volume of research at institutions.

At Essex, we focus on research intensity which we call ‘research excellence’. This measures the quality of research, its impact and the research environment (measured by Grade Point Average) and the proportion of staff submitted to the REF.

Research excellence league table

2014 intensity-weighted GPA rank order Institution Number of subjects (Units of Assessment) entered Total number FTE staff submitted % eligible staff submitted Grade Point Average (GPA) Intensity-weighted Grade Point Average
1 University of Cambridge 32 2,088 95 3.33 3.17
2 Imperial College London 14 1,257 92 3.36 3.09
3 University College London 36 2,566 91 3.22 2.94
4= University of Bristol 31 1,138 91 3.18 2.90
4= University of Oxford 31 2,409 87 3.34 2.90
6 London School of Economics and Political Science 14 532 85 3.35 2.84
7= Queen’s University Belfast 28 868 95 2.99 2.83
7= University of Southampton 26 1,113 90 3.15 2.83
9 University of Warwick 23 931 83 3.22 2.69
10 University of Edinburgh 31 1,753 83 3.18 2.65
11 Loughborough University 18 646 88 2.95 2.61
12 University of Glasgow 32 1,099 84 3.10 2.60
13 University of St Andrews 20 519 82 3.13 2.58
14 King’s College London 27 1,369 80 3.23 2.57
15 University of Strathclyde 17 558 84 3.04 2.56
16 University of Exeter 25 736 82 3.08 2.52
16 University of Kent 23 591 85 2.95 2.52
16 University of Reading 23 590 83 3.03 2.52
19 University of Essex 14 339 82 3.05 2.49

(Table excludes specialist research institutions the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of the Highlands and Islands which submitted less than 70 full-time equivalent members of staff)

Essex subject areas in the Top 20 for 'research excellence'

  • Politics 1st
  • Economics 5th
  • Art history 10th
  • Sociology 12th
  • Sports Science 13th
  • Philosophy 14th
  • Law 17th

In addition, Essex was ranked in the top 25 for History and for Business and Management.

Research quality rankings

Some media, including the Times Higher Education, put together rankings on the REF results that measure quality of outputs, impact and research environment without taking into account the proportion of academic staff whose work was submitted. They do this by using 'Grade Point Averages'.

Grade Point Averages (GPA)

The REF assesses the proportion of research submitted in each Unit of Assessment (or subject area) which meets the following quality criteria, represented in star ratings. From the proportions at each star level, a Grade Point Average is produced.

Using this measurement, which we call ‘research quality’, Essex ranks 32nd amongst UK universities.

Star ratings
  • 4* = World leading
  • 3* = Internationally excellent
  • 2* = Internationally recognised
  • 1* = Nationally recognised
  • U = Below standards of national recognition, or fails to meet published definition of research eligible for assessment

Research quality results table

2014 rank order by Grade Point Average Institution Number of UOAs entered Grade Point Average (0-4)
1 Imperial College London 14 3.36
2 London School of Economics and Political Science 14 3.35
3 University of Oxford 31 3.34
4 University of Cambridge 32 3.33
5 Cardiff University 27 3.27
6 King’s College London 27 3.23
7= University College London 36 3.22
7= University of Warwick 23 3.22
9= University of Edinburgh 31 3.18
9= University of Bristol 31 3.18
9= Queen Mary University of London 21 3.18
12= University of Sheffield 35 3.17
12= University of York 24 3.17
12= University of Bath 13 3.17
15 University of Manchester 35 3.16
16= University of Southampton 26 3.15
16= Lancaster University 16 3.15
18 Durham University 23 3.14
19= University of Leeds 33 3.13
19= University of St Andrews 20 3.13
21 University of East Anglia 24 3.11
22 University of Glasgow 32 3.10
23= University of Nottingham 32 3.09
23= Newcastle University 28 3.09
23= Royal Holloway, University of London 17 3.09
23= Swansea University 18 3.09
27 University of Exeter 25 3.08
28= University of Birmingham 33 3.07
28= Cranfield University 3 3.07
30= University of Liverpool 26 3.06
30= Heriot-Watt University 12 3.06
32= University of Essex 14 3.05
32= Aston University 7 3.05

(Table excludes specialist research institutions the Institute of Cancer Research, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)

Essex subject areas in the Top 20 for 'research quality'

  • Politics 1st
  • Economics 7th
  • Sociology 7th
  • Linguistics 8th
  • Philosophy 9th
  • Art history 10th
  • Psychology 13th

Research excellence and quality profiles for Essex subjects

Subject ‘Research excellence’ (intensity) ranking ‘Research quality’ (GPA) ranking ‘World leading’ 4* research % ‘Inter-
nationally excellent’ 3* research %
‘Inter-
nationally recognised’ 2* research %
Nationally recognised 1* research % Below national recognition or doesn’t meet assessment criteria U
Social Sciences
Politics and International Studies 1 out of 56 1 out of 56 68 19 12 1 0
Modern Languages and Linguistics 35 out of 56 8 out of 56 40 43 14 3 0
Sociology 12 out of 29 7 out of 29 38 40 20 2 0
Economics and Econometrics 5 out of 28 7 out of 28 32 61 7 0 0
Business and Management Studies 24 out of 101 38 out of 101 17 55 25 3 0
Humanities
Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory 10 out of 84 10 out of 84 32 57 11 0 0
Philosophy 14 out of 40 9 out of 40 34 51 15 0 0
Law 17 out of 67 26 out of 67 23 48 28 0 1
English Language and Literature 35 out of 89 36 out of 89 29 46 22 3 0
History 21 out of 83 43 out of 83 19 52 27 1 1
Science and Health
Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience 27 out of 82 13 out of 82 40 50 10 0 0
Biological Sciences 31 out of 44 35 out of 44 3 63 32 2 0
Computer Science and Informatics 29 out of 89 36 out of 89 22 49 25 4 0
Sports and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism 13 out of 51 27 out of 51 13 41 43 3 0