University summary

The University of Edinburgh has an outstanding history of discovery, invention and innovation.

Research conducted at Edinburgh has laid the foundations of modern economics and sociology, the Enlightenment, geology, English literature, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, antiseptic surgery, nephrology and the theory of evolution.

Edinburgh-based researchers discovered carbon dioxide, latent and specific heat, chloroform anaesthesia, SARS and the Higgs boson and developed the Hepatitis B vaccine, the hypodermic syringe, the kaleidoscope, the vacuum flask, the ATM, the diving chamber and in-vitro fertilisation.

High-ranking research

Based on results from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the University of Edinburgh leads Scotland and ranks fourth in the UK for research excellence. Research conducted in the University’s three Colleges, Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Medicine & Veterinary Medicine and Science & Engineering, has extensive regional, national and global impact.

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

The College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences produces world-leading research with impact across all domains from anthropology and art, through education, languages, law, politics and psychology, to sociology and social policy.

This impact contributes to social and cultural life in Scotland, the UK and beyond. Projects invigorate the arts and stimulate public engagement, influence national political debates and public policy and address global grand challenges such as climate change and human health.


  • Research in archaeology has offered an in-depth virtual view inside a 2,000-year-old mummy and has had impact on how historical artefacts are investigated.
  • Edinburgh researchers have provided unparalleled insight into the mood of the British people at the start of the Second World War through a detailed analysis of morale reports from 1940.
  • The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime has increased understanding about youth offending and the impact of interventions, influencing policy and practice in Scotland.

Case studies

Find out more about the research undertaken in the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences in our research impact case studies.

Research impact case studies from the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

The College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, the UK’s only joint medical and veterinary school, is internationally renowned for basic-to-clinical translational research.

The College has a history of interdisciplinary research and a commitment to the concept of one health, explicitly linking biomedicine and veterinary medicine.

Research within the College has delivered ground-breaking innovation, for instance with the UK’s first renal transplant in 1960, the introduction of islet cell transplantation in Scotland, the cloning of Dolly the sheep and the UK's first living donor liver transplantation.

Impact occurs in the areas of human and animal health and welfare, and the College’s reach extends to influencing policy and international impact, providing valuable, wide-ranging medical and veterinary solutions.


  • Development of the GRACE risk score, which can predict risk of heart attack in patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome, has contributed to a change in practice and improved outcomes for sufferers worldwide.
  • Researchers have developed the practice of freezing ovarian tissue for long-term storage, enabling women to have children after cancer therapy.
  • Research conducted at the Roslin Institute has improved selective breeding of salmon that are resistant to disease, thus benefiting the salmon farming industry.

Case studies

Find out more about the research undertaken in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine in our research impact case studies.

Research impact case studies from the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

College of Science & Engineering

The College of Science & Engineering produces world-class, fundamental research, spanning the disciplines of biological sciences, chemistry, computer science and informatics, geosciences, engineering, mathematical sciences, and physics and astronomy.

This research excellence, confirmed by REF2014, is the platform for single discipline and multidisciplinary impact that is broad in scope and large in scale.

The College's research has had commercial, political, social and cultural impact.


  • Researchers have developed statistical methods for forensic science that have reduced costs, increased accuracy and improved understanding of the value of forensic evidence.
  • Study of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis has led to public policy changes in Africa and successful prevention of infection in children under five.
  • Research into savanna habitats in Belize has provided local environmental organisations with valuable resources for biodiversity monitoring and plant identification.

Case studies

Find out more about the research undertaken in the College of Science & Engineering in our research impact case studies.

Research impact case studies from the College of Science & Engineering