90% of Durham University’s research rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”


90% of Durham University’s research has been rated as being “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” with over 99% of research classed as being of “international quality”, which Durham University says confirms “the international standing of research” at the University.

The figures come from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, who delayed the publication of their results by a year due to Covid-19 restrictions. The REF assessed the research performed by Durham’s four major faculties; Arts and Humanities, Business, Science and Social Science and Health. 

Six subject areas at Durham were placed in the top ten nationally for the quality of their research, with four subjects placed in the top five. This included Geography which is ranked first in the UK for the overall quality of its research, with Archaeology and Education ranking second in their respective UK research rankings. 

More than 1,400 research staff have contributed to research in 24 different subject areas, an increase of 44% since the last REF results in 2014, with the University showcasing over 100 case studies to highlight how Durham’s research translates into real life applications. 

Case studies included work at the Anthropology’s Infancy Sleep Centre, whose research has helped reduce the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Research from the Conservation Ecology Group as part of the Biosciences department was also highlighted, due to its impact in helping different species adapt to the effects of a changing world. 

The University also highlighted their international links with other research institutions such as the Palace Museum in China, of which the University was their first English partner, and companies such as Procter & Gamble and Ibex who the University have helped to improve their x-ray technology. 

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

Professor Colin Bain

Professor Colin Bain, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) celebrated the by saying “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. 

“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”. 

The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in the UK’s higher education institutions, with the assessments being undertaken by Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. 

The University’s success in the REF comes after it was ranked in the top 100 of World Universities in the QS world earlier this year. It also ranked 5th in the Guardian’s University Guide 2022 and 6th in the Times and Sunday Times’ Good University Guide 2022 and the Complete University Guide 2022.  

The University also ranked 14th globally for its contributions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 17 in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, in recognition of its partnerships with local, national and international partners to achieve sustainable development.

Image Credit: Durham University


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