Durham University: 90 per cent of Durham research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 assessed subjects across our four faculties of Arts and Humanities, Business, Science and Social Sciences and Health.

Internationally excellent

Over ninety-nine per cent of our research was rated as being of international quality, while 90 per cent was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent*.

Six Durham subject areas were in the UK top ten for the overall quality of their research including Geography (1st), Archaeology (2nd), Education (2nd), Classics and Ancient History (4th), Theology and Religion (8th) and Sport and Exercise Sciences (10th).

The depth and breadth of the University’s research was demonstrated by more than 1,000 research staff who submitted research in 24 different subject areas – an increase of 44 per cent in staff numbers since the last REF, in 2014.

Benefitting society

In total, nearly 100 case studies were put forward for assessment in REF 2021 (which was delayed until this year due to Covid-19), demonstrating how our research benefits areas such as society, culture, health, the economy, policy and the environment.   

Examples of impactful research at Durham include:

The Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre (Anthropology), which has revolutionised research into infant sleep safety and helped reduce rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome;
Climate modelling produced by the Conservation Ecology Group (Biosciences), which is helping different species to adapt to the effects of a changing world;
Research by our Business School which has supported major international and regional companies to better understand consumer behaviour in the digital world to support their business activities and deliver a better customer experience;
Interdisciplinary work from our Hearing the Voice project (English Studies and Psychology), which is providing resources to help voice-hearers, their families and mental health professionals.
Positive impact

Professor Colin Bain, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “Our research brings together the leading minds in their field to work collaboratively across departments and with our partners to develop new ways of thinking that have a positive impact on societal and global challenges.

“The Research Excellence Framework recognises the benefit of this cross-disciplinary working, which is producing ground-breaking research and is central to enhancing global knowledge and developing global citizenship.

“We seek out regional, national and international partners to share our academic expertise and student talent, supporting their ambitions and ensuring our research makes a difference.

“We are continuing to grow our academic staff numbers and we have invested heavily in staff in subjects such as Computer Science, Psychology, History, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Law and Business, and our new researchers have contributed to our strong performance in all these fields.

“I am extremely proud of all of our outstanding researchers and support staff whose hard work is affirmed in the REF results published today and I congratulate them for it.”

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