Research Excellence Framework 2014

Subject area highlights

  • Ranked #1 institution for research outputs: with 48% graded as world leading research for quality and citations and over 36% classed as being internationally excellent

    1 Clinical Medicine

    Ranked #1 institution for research outputs: with 48% graded as world leading research for quality and citations and over 36% classed as being internationally excellent
  • Allied Health Professions ranked 36th for Research Power1; nearly two thirds of research output and environment rated at 3 and 4​*

    3 Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy

    Allied Health Professions ranked 36th for Research Power1; nearly two thirds of research output and environment rated at 3 and 4​*
  • Understanding people: 83% of our research rated as world-leading or internationally excellent

    4 Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

    Understanding people: 83% of our research rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science ranked 16th for Research Power (1), with a 63% rating of 3 and 4* for impact​

    6 Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science​

    Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science ranked 16th for Research Power (1), with a 63% rating of 3 and 4* for impact​
  • Marine, earth and environmental sciences: top 10 for Research Power!1 85% of our research rated as world-leading​ or internationally excellent

    7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

    Marine, earth and environmental sciences: top 10 for Research Power!1 85% of our research rated as world-leading​ or internationally excellent
  • Our first entry to the REF finds over 65% of our research output is world-class and international quality work​

    10 Mathematical Sciences

    Our first entry to the REF finds over 65% of our research output is world-class and international quality work​
  • Our computational neuroscience and robotics research continues to demonstrate world leading and international level excellence, with over 80% rated at 3 and 4*​

    11 Computer Science and Informatics

    Our computational neuroscience and robotics research continues to demonstrate world leading and international level excellence, with over 80% rated at 3 and 4*​
  • Proud to be #4 for research impact: just behind ​Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge! With 60% of outputs classed as internationally excellent

    13 Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials

    Proud to be #4 for research impact: just behind ​Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge! With 60% of outputs classed as internationally excellent
  • Making waves: two-thirds of our research is of internationally excellent quality​

    15 General Engineering​

    Making waves: two-thirds of our research is of internationally excellent quality​
  • Our first submission for all disciplines: 59% of outputs classed as world-leading or of international quality; an excellent platform on which to build a stronger research profile

    16 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning​

    Our first submission for all disciplines: 59% of outputs classed as world-leading or of international quality; an excellent platform on which to build a stronger research profile
  • Plymouth in the top 3rd, nationally, for Geography1: two-thirds of research outputs and 80% of research impact assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent

    17 Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

    Plymouth in the top 3rd, nationally, for Geography1: two-thirds of research outputs and 80% of research impact assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • Nearly 50% of our research environment, world-leading or internationally excellent and 60% of research impact judged to be of international excellence

    19 Business and Management Studies​

    Nearly 50% of our research environment, world-leading or internationally excellent and 60% of research impact judged to be of international excellence
  • Top 30 for research outputs: 24th for Research Power1; 75% of our research environment rated as world leading and internationally recognised and 64% of research output​

    22 Social Work and Social Policy​

    Top 30 for research outputs: 24th for Research Power1; 75% of our research environment rated as world leading and internationally recognised and 64% of research output​
  • Education 23rd for Research Power (1); nearly two-thirds of research environment and impact rated internationally excellent​

    25 Education​

    Education 23rd for Research Power (1); nearly two-thirds of research environment and impact rated internationally excellent​
  • Plymouth's English and Creative Writing REF results put our department's publications amongst the best in the nation: 33% 4* and 36% 3*

    29 English Language and Literature​

    Plymouth's English and Creative Writing REF results put our department's publications amongst the best in the nation: 33% 4* and 36% 3*
  • Almost 60% of our research is world leading or internationally excellent, including research on the Olympic Legacy and Maritime Heritage​

    30 History​

    Almost 60% of our research is world leading or internationally excellent, including research on the Olympic Legacy and Maritime Heritage​
  • Top university for this subject area in the Westcountry. 100% of our research environment for researchers and PhD students classed as world-leading and internationally excellent

    34 Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

    Top university for this subject area in the Westcountry. 100% of our research environment for researchers and PhD students classed as world-leading and internationally excellent
  • Over 60% of our is world-leading or internationally excellent, with 50% of research impact world leading.

    35 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

    Over 60% of our is world-leading or internationally excellent, with 50% of research impact world leading.

Our results

Nearly two-thirds of Plymouth’s research has been graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the nationwide review of research standards across the higher education sector.

From agriculture to art and design, clinical medicine to mathematics, earth sciences to education, the University improved its scores across the board in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).


Unit of Assessment FTE Category A staff submitted 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
1 Clinical Medicine 14.50 37 42 21 0 0
3 Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy 34.90 14 49 27 1 9
4 Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience 30.80 21 62 17 0 0
6 Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science 24.45 13 40 42 4 1
7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences 44.92 14 71 14 1 0
10 Mathematical Sciences 14.40 7 45 39 1 8
11 Computer Science and Informatics 12.40 15 66 18 1 0
13 Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials 7.80 16 49 35 0 0
15 General Engineering 17.20 8 58 32 2 0


Overall Plymouth University had more than 63 per cent of its research graded at 3 and 4-stars – nearly double its score from 2008, when the previous assessment exercise was conducted.

The results will be used by national funding bodies to allocate block-grant research funding to universities from 2015-16.



Unit of Assessment FTE Category A staff submitted 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
16 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning 12.95 7 37 50 6 0
17 Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology 29.20 17 47 30 6 0
19 Business and Management Studies 32.60 8 41 43 7 1
22 Social Work and Social Policy 22.02 17 45 36 2 0
25 Education 24.00 9 45 35 11 0
29 English Language and Literature 10.97 22 34 35 9 0
30 History 11.00 9 47 42 2 0
34 Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory 13.75 17 55 24 3 1
35 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts 8.20 25 36 29 10 0

HE results

The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014), carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), were published on 18 December 2014.

They highlighted that all areas submitted by Plymouth University included world-leading research, achieving the highest rating possible - scoring four stars.

Resources for internal staff and students

A full version of the results table, and our internal results analysis, is available to our researchers on the University's intranet (log in required).

Classification Overall quality profile description
4* World-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour
3* Internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which nonetheless falls short of the highest standards of excellence
2* Recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour
1* Recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour
U/C Unclassified Work not meeting published definition of research for the purposes of the REF or which falls below national standards