Research and Knowledge Exchange

2014 Research Excellence Framework

The College achieved a superb result with the majority of our submissions achieving a top five position in the UK

REF 2014

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) assesses the quality of our work in relation to our outputs (publications and other outputs), our research environment, and the societal and economic impact of our research.

How we performed

The College submitted the work of a very large number of colleagues (757.22 FTE) across 23 different Units of Assessment, including a multiple submission to Modern Languages. Using the widely used and respected Research Power index (a combination of the submission's overall score for international excellence and world-leading work and volume of staff submitted), the College submitted staff to 12 Units which were ranked within the top five in the UK, and 18 Units which were ranked first in Scotland.

One area - Sociology - was top-ranked in both the United Kingdom and Scotland

In addition to Sociology, four Units were placed within the top three within the UK and Scotland:

  • History
  • Architecture and Landscape Architecture (part of a joint submission with Heriot-Watt)
  • Earth Systems & Environmental Sciences
  • Social Policy & Social Work

An additional seven Units were within the top five in the UK:

  • Anthropology
  • Classics
  • Education
  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Theology

We returned two Units within the Modern Languages and Linguistics Units of Assessment. Both did extremely well, coming first (Linguistics) and second (Modern Languages) in Scotland. Only three single Linguistics Units were submitted in the UK and our colleagues lead this grouping.

Impact and environment

REF2014 was the first of its kind to ask institutions to demonstrate the impact of their research on the wider world, including the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life in Scotland, the UK and internationally. Particular highlights of our results, therefore, are our impact outcomes (85% scoring the top grades of 4* and/or 3*) and our research environment outcomes (95% scoring 4* and/or 3*).

Across the College, seven Units of Assessment achieved 100% 4* and 3* Impact ratings:

  • Anthropology
  • Art-Design-History of Art
  • Education
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Psychology-Psychiatry-Neuroscience
  • Sociology

A further seven Units achieved over 90% 4* and 3* Impact ratings. These results emphasise both the success of our colleagues in creating an environment conducive to very high quality research, and also our success in taking the benefits of our research outside academia.


The College has achieved a superb result, which combines a large-scale, broad and diverse submission with very high quality outcomes: the majority of our submissions have achieved a top five position in the UK. We're particularly proud of the very strong impact scores of our research and the outstanding research environment we create for staff and research students' work.

Dorothy MiellHead of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences