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Durham University

Department of Geography

Department of Geography REF 2014 Results

REF 2014

1st for research power

3rd for quality profile weighted for intensity

The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 have now been published. Of the research assessed in the Department of Geography, 43% was assessed as being in the highest category; that is 4* (world leading), it thus ranked 1st in the country for research power (its quality weighted by volume). The assessment is based on originality, significance and rigour of the research. When our profile is weighted by the proportion of staff returned we are ranked 3rd in the country (Grade Point Average scaled by proportion of staff returned).

Durham Geography's strength in research was confirmed showing it produced the largest volume of world-leading publications (4*) in the country. Much of it is available in the University’s Open Access Repository.

Our research has outstanding impacts in terms of its reach and significance, with more than half being graded at 4*. Examples can be found on our Impact pages.

This national recognition of the quality of our research confirms one of the reasons we were ranked as 4th best geography department in the world by the QS subject ranking this year.

The exercise has confirmed that the research environment comprising permanent staff, postdoctoral and doctoral researchers, and support staff is among the best and largest in the country, vibrant and sustainable at the highest level. The grading reflects the breadth of excellent work across the department that was able to make a comprehensive submission of all its eligible staff. This further recognises our commitment to fostering an inclusive and collegial research environment that also saw us gain a Bronze Gender Equality Mark this year.

The breadth and excellence of research at Durham Geography can be seen on our Research pages.

The University’s results are published on the University REF 2014 website.

Glossary of Terms


For the purposes of the REF, impact is defined as an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.


Research Assessment Exercise, the previous system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The last one was in 2008.


Research Excellence Framework


A submission is all of the data and information submitted by one HEI under one UOA. There were 1,911 submissions.


A Higher Education Institution such as a university, higher education college or other higher education institution


The Grade Point Average (GPA) is an internationally recognised calculation used to find the average result of all grades achieved. 


There are 36 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs) under which universities submit research to the REF. They are listed in Annex B of Units of assessment and recruitment of expert panels; (REF 01.2010) at