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Durham University

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Research Excellence Framework 2021

What is the REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a method of assessing the quality of research at British higher education institutions. It will assess the research that has taken place during the period 2014-2020. More information on the REF process can be found here.

Why is the REF Significant?

The four UK higher education funding bodies allocate about £2 billion per year of research funding to UK universities, based on the quality and volume of each university’s research. They aim to support a dynamic and internationally competitive UK research sector that makes a major contribution to economic prosperity, national wellbeing and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge. As well as informing funding allocations, the REF provides accountability for public investment in research, demonstrates its benefits, and provides important reputational yardsticks and benchmarking information about the research performance of UK universities.

REF 2014

Durham University REF results

Durham University REF 2014 Result


83% of research “internationally excellent” or “world leading” (3* or 4*)

98% of our research environment “internationally excellent” or “world-leading” (3* or 4*)

91% of impact case studies graded as 3* or 4*

Almost 80% of outputs “ internationally excellent” or “world-leading” (3* or 4*)

All 22 Units of Assessment contained world-leading (4*) research

View detailed results...

The Societal Benefit of Durham University’s Research – Case Studies

Bridging the Education Gap

Professor Steve Higgins

The Pupil Premium Toolkit developed by Durham University is helping schools invest wisely in the education of disadvantaged children... Read more

Waterproofing At Your Fingertips

Professor Jas Pal Badyal

Millions of mobile phones are protected from water damage by super-repellent nanocoatings invented in Durham University’s chemistry laboratories... Read more

Influencing the Law on Pornography

Professors Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley

A campaign to outlaw possession of pornographic images of rape has been strengthened by Durham University research... Read more

Reviving Classical Music

Professor Jeremy Dibble

The neglected work of three talented British composers has been revived as a result of research at Durham University... Read more

Global Access to Ancient Literature

Dr Peter Heslin

Access to Latin and Greek texts is available to people all over the world via free software developed at Durham University... Read more

Find out what's going on around the University in your research area

REF 2014

Research at Durham University: A world of opportunity

Research at Durham University: A world of opportunity

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Research is at the heart of Durham University. Here, some of our leading early career researchers talk about the world of opportunity on offer to students and academics at Durham. Undergraduates, postgraduates, post-doctoral researchers and staff members have access to state-of-the-art facilities at the University. We offer a rich, research-intensive environment in which to develop new perspectives and insights, and to contribute to the frontiers of knowledge. Students at Durham University have the opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s leading researchers from a range of disciplines. The research our academics conduct shapes and inspires the disciplinary structure of our academic departments, as well as our college communities, and directly informs our undergraduate teaching. Students have the opportunity to go out into the field and have a hands-on learning experience, developing knowledge, independent thinking and creativity: tools for undertaking their own research. Durham University is distinctive - a residential Collegiate University with long traditions and modern values. Durham seeks the highest distinction in research and scholarship and is committed to excellence in all aspects of research and education. Durham University is proud to be an international scholarly community, with students and staff from 156 countries. Visit the Durham University Research Website: Follow us on social media Facebook: Twitter: LinkedIn: Instagram: Website:

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