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School of Biological Sciences Ranked in UK Top 5 for Research Quality

The School of Biological Sciences is ranked fifth in the UK, and top ranked in Scotland, for the quality and breadth of its research, known as research power, by Times Higher Education.

The rankings are based on the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), published on 12th May 2022.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

Our Results

Our success is driven by our vibrant and inclusive research culture, where everyone who works with us is supported and encouraged to explore and bring their ideas to life.

94% per cent of the School of Biological Sciences’ research activity is in the highest categories - classed as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ by REF.

The research environment in School of Biological Sciences is in the highest category - classed as ‘world leading’ by REF. 

The research environment is the strategy, the infrastructure but also the financial and staff resources that support research. 

Our facilities are unparalleled in Scotland and we seek to constantly evolve our world-class research environment to allow the best ideas to thrive, push frontiers, deliver economic impact and drive sustainability.

Our Success

The success of the School of Biological Sciences is founded on many things, but fundamental are the people and the environment they create.

We take a leading role in tackling the biggest challenges facing our planet – the fight against infection and disease, the impact of climate change and the need for more sustainable methods of producing food and materials.  

Our scale and breadth generates truly integrative research, allowing us to excel as equally in discovery science as in solution-led research. 


Our excellent REF 2021 results announced today reflect both a balance in our portfolio between fundamental research and real-world application, as well as our commitment to a supportive and inclusive research community. The quality of student training and education in the School of Biological Sciences is founded on the success of our research and so it is gratifying to see such positive REF outcomes.

Professor David GrayHead of the School of Biological Sciences


This fantastic result is a testament to the talent, ingenuity and sheer hard work of our staff. It shows that our world-class research is playing its part in making the world a better place in a way that few places – with a combination of the brightest minds, the most cutting edge facilities, powerful partnerships, and a commitment to tackling sticky problems from all angles - can do in the way that Edinburgh can. This success is shared with our industrial, charity and philanthropic supporters with whom we have collaborated to maximise the impact of our work locally and globally. 

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

Examples of our Impact

The scale and breadth of our expertise allows us to bring together the perfect blend of the brightest minds from across disciplines in the search for solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.



FAQs - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021


Related Links

Times Higher Education (THE) REF 2021 – Biological Sciences

University of Edinburgh REF 2021 Results - Research rankings confirm Edinburgh as world leader

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021