Durham University ranks highly in Times Higher Education’s Subject and QS Sustainability rankings

By  and Emily Doughty

Durham University has seen two of its subject areas rank among the world’s top 50 in the recently published Times Higher Education (THE) Subject Rankings, with a further two subjects ranked among the world’s top 100.

The University has also ranked 53rd out of 700 universities in the first ever QS World University Rankings for Sustainability. Within these overall rankings, Durham placed 57th in the QS’ Environmental Impact Rankings and 104th in the Social Impact Rankings. 

The THE Subject Rankings placed Durham’s Arts and Humanities subjects at 33rd, while the subject of Law was ranked at 42nd. Meanwhile, Social Sciences saw its ranking rise 22 places to be placed 91st, while Education was ranked at 77th. Durham was ranked 198th overall in the THE’s World Rankings released last October. 

Reacting to the THE Subject Rankings, Vice-Chancellor Karen O’Brien hailed Durham as “a world leading University”, and said it was “wonderful to see so many of our subject areas ranked so highly.”

O’Brien said that “students benefit from high quality research-led teaching from some of the world’s leading experts in their field,” and that “these rankings demonstrate our commitment to offering excellent education and research, in addition to a world class wider student experience.”

“We’re always developing new ways of thinking to shape a better future for people and our planet”

Durham University

In the QS Sustainability Ranking the University ranked particularly highly in the indicator of Sustainable Education, due to the success of schemes like the student-run Green Move Out scheme.

The University also performed well in the Employment and Opportunities indicator, due to the large contribution that Durham’s students and staff make to the local economy through spending and volunteering. 

On its website, Durham said that “we’re always developing new ways of thinking to shape a better future for people and our planet,” such as through signing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Accords, performing sustainability-driven teaching and research, and ensuring that all new University buildings are built to the BREME specification for sustainability. 

The QS World Sustainability Rankings were launched by QS for the first time this year, focusing on the “social and environmental sustainability performance in higher education institutions”. The University of California, Berkeley ranked 1st overall in the rankings, with only one British University making the overall top 10 – Edinburgh. 

A variety of indicators are used to measure how institutions are tackling environmental, social and governance challenges. These indicators are split into environmental sustainability measures such as sustainable institutions, education and research, and social impact measures such as equality, knowledge exchange and educational impact.


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