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Durham University

School of Education

Research Excellence Framework 2014


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and was undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies.

The primary purpose of the REF was to produce assessment outcomes for each submission made by institutions:

  • The funding bodies intend to use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their research funding to HEIs, with effect from 2015-16.
  • The assessment provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • The assessment outcomes provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks.

Our Results

We participated in The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 and we are proud to announce that 81% of our Unit of Assessment’s research overall was considered to be of internationally excellent quality or world leading, that is, both 3* and 4*. This consists of the overall assessment of outputs, environment and impact. 

This equates to 31% assessed as 3* or "internationally excellent” and 50% as 4* or "world leading". A further 18%was classed as 2* or “recognised internationally”. 

This gives our Unit of Assessment a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.3which means that we are ranked 5th in the field of education nationally and ranked joint 1st in the UK for world-leading research impact.

The results are as follows: 


  • 4* 26%
  • 3* 45%
  • 2* 27%
  • 1* 2%


  • 4* 100%


  • 4* 88%
  • 3* 12%

“These results are a fantastic achievement for the School of Education positioning us as one of the leading departments in the country. 81% of our research is world-leading or internationally excellent obtaining the top ranked score nationally for impact. The overall outcome demonstrating the capability and commitment of our staff to improving education through research.”

Head of School, Professor Carl Bagley PhD FRSA