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Birkbeck celebrates strong research success

Birkbeck welcomes the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), published today.


Birkbeck welcomes the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), published today. The results are proof of quality and strength across a wide range of disciplines at the College.

Listen to our podcast discussing the results.

What do our results show?

The REF results show that:

  • 73% of our research is rated ‘world-leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*)
  • In keeping with the sector, Birkbeck research was found to have improved significantly since the last exercise in 2008 when 56% of our research was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’
  • 83% of Birkbeck staff were returned in the REF - this is well above the sector average
  • Birkbeck’s science submission performed exceptionally well with Psychological Sciences rated 5th in the UK, Earth Systems & Environmental Sciences rated 6th and Biological Sciences rated 11th. The last two were joint submissions with UCL
  • Half of Birkbeck’s submissions were rated in the top 20 nationally with Sociology rated 13th, Philosophy 15th,  Politics 17th and History 18th joining the success in science.
  • Nearly all of Birkbeck’s submissions were in the top half of all universities in the UK including Art & Design, English, Computer Science, Law and Modern Languages & Linguistics. All Birkbeck schools submitted work at this level. There were significant improvements in Law and in Modern Languages & Linguistics

The 2014 REF put a new emphasis on universities being able to demonstrate the impact of their research on the world beyond academia. Birkbeck’s REF results show the relevance of the College’s research to many aspects of our everyday lives – whether influencing policy-makers in their thinking about early years education; working with major companies such as Proctor & Gamble to educate parents about their child’s development; or trialling new drugs for the treatment of cancer. Three subject areas – Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; History; and Art & Design – achieved 100% at the highest ratings for impact.

Eight of Birkbeck’s REF submissions (Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; Biological Sciences; Earth Systems & Environmental Sciences; Law; Modern Languages & Linguistics; English; History; and Art & Design) achieved 100% at the highest ratings for research environment. In this category the REF was looking for an environment that is ‘conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality, in terms of its vitality and sustainability’. This result confirms the College’s status as one of the UK’s leading institutions in which to conduct research.

“This is a strong result for Birkbeck,” said Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck. “I am delighted that the REF has recognised the quality and breadth of Birkbeck’s research base, our commitment to supporting the highest standards of international research, and the impact and relevance of our work to society.”

Professor Stephen Frosh, Pro-Vice-Master for Research, added: “These results are pleasing and show the enormous amount of hard work that has gone on in recent years by our academics, contributing to a really strong submission from Birkbeck.

“This is the result of the College’s research strategy, which has made a deep commitment to creating the best possible conditions for academics to participate actively in research, and to pursue their own intellectual interests. Today underscores our strong record of successful applications for research grant funding from the UK’s research councils in recent years, and confirms our high standing within the research community.

“I am particularly delighted that we achieved this result with a high proportion of our academic staff being submitted to the REF. This shows how central research is to our life at Birkbeck.”

Birkbeck entered submissions in 14 Units of Assessment – the subject groupings established for the purposes of the REF. These were: Biological Sciences (joint submission with UCL); Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory; Business and Management Studies; Computer Science and Informatics; Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (joint submission with UCL); Economics and Econometrics; English Language and Literature; History; Law; Modern Languages and Linguistics; Philosophy; Politics and International Studies; Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; Sociology.

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