The University identified over 20 priority areas for recruitment in 2011, reflecting particular concentrations of excellence. However, Birmingham is a comprehensive institution and this list reflects only a fraction of our research excellence. Outstanding candidates in other fields were also welcome to apply as long as they could demonstrate how their work complemented and enhanced excellence at the University of Birmingham. The priority areas for 2012 will be made available shortly.
Cognitive Psychology is an international strength at the University of Birmingham, covering the study of the brain, behaviour and cognition. This is a broad church, spanning from behavioural analyses, through patient studies and interventions to brain imaging; from perception through action control and attention to language. We are ranked third in the UK for psychology, behind only Oxford and Cambridge, and benefit from state-of-the-art resources, with MRI, fMRI, EEG, infant EEG, multiple TMS platforms, and multiple facilities for eye tracking and kinematic analysis. Our Infant and Child Laboratory was recently established. We are also expanding our collaboration with Computer Science through the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics (CN-CR) to translate neuroscience to facilitate motor and cognitive rehabilitation and to advance robotics through implementation of cognitive theories.
Learn more on our Cognitive Psychology summary page.
Computation, Mathematics and Theory
Our research in this area is led by teams in the School of Computer Science and the School of Mathematics. Within the School of Computer Science there are strong groups working on Nature-Inspired and Intelligent Computation, Intelligent Robotics, Computing Systems, Theoretical Computer Science, Software Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction. Research strengths in Mathematics at Birmingham include Algebra, Analysis, Applied Analysis, Combinatorics, Fluid Dynamics, Mathematical Biology, Numerical Analysis, Optimization and Statistics. Research areas in Birmingham which lie at the interface between Computer Science and Mathematics include Foundational Theory of Computation, Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization.
For more information visit the Computation, Mathematics and Theory summary page.
Engineering and Physical Science for Biomedicine and Imaging
Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Mathematics research at the life sciences interface is both well-established and actively encouraged at Birmingham. The breadth of work in this area reflects the diversity of the University of Birmingham's science base. The Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBS) Doctoral Training Centre is a particular focus of activity, working on the development of the physical sciences of imaging and the computational analysis of image data to address key problems in the biological and biomedical sciences. Other recent initiatives include Systems Science for Health, which brings together computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, biomedical scientists, and clinical sciences to interpret complex data about biological systems and transfer this knowledge into a clinical setting. These and other initiatives benefit from state-of-the-art imaging and processing technology and links with clinicians and medical physicists at the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Women's Hospitals, the Birmingham Children's Hospital, and the Birmingham Dental Hospital.
More information is available at the Engineering and Physical Science for Biomedicine and Imaging summary page.
Our research in this area focuses on four major topics: pollution, including air pollution and pollutant cycling process; climate and atmosphere; environmental nanoscience; and environmental toxicology. It is led by teams in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Biosciences, with links to Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Scientists working in this field work closely and collaboratively and have a very strong record of winning competitive funding from research councils, government departments, the European Commission and private industry.
More detailed information is available on the Environmental Pollution summary page.
The University of Birmingham has a long history of specialist scholarship focused on Europe and was named a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in 1998. Breadth is achieved by collaborations between specialist researchers in comparative and interdisciplinary research centres and clusters, distinguishing our work from a more generalist “European Studies” model. Depth rather than breadth is the norm, with theoretically rather than geographically focused research questions. Birmingham also stands out for its truly pan-European expertise, unlike many institutions which emphasise certain regions. Our Europe-focused scholarship spans a broad range of disciplines, including political science, history, law, geography, history, gender studies, literary studies, religious studies, and linguistics, and is complemented by by our commitment to both major and minority European languages.
For more information visit our Europe summary page.
Genetics and Personalised Medicine
This area incorporates groups from the Research Domains of Genetics & Development, Cancer, and Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Neurological Sciences. Research is focused on mechanisms that maintain stem cell phenotype and control the ultimate differentiation into specific cell types relevant to a variety of tissues. These fundamental studies, embracing strengths in epigenetics, employ genetically engineered fish, mouse and human models, and link closely with medical genetics research to define the molecular basis of inherited human conditions. Some groups also focus on defective repair of DNA damage and how this contributes to both inherited and acquired human disease, including the origin of cancer.
For more information visit our Genetics and Personalised Medicine summary page.
Research on the global economy is concerned with the impacts of the internationalisation of production on firm’s performance and the well being of consumers. This involves investigation of a broad range of topics including firms' ability to compete in international markets through innovation and productivity growth, management and leadership of international business, and international trade and investment and achieving sustainable economic growth. In Birmingham Business School research on this topic is concentrated in five main areas: productivity and labour markets; global value chains; leadership; innovation; and the economics of globalisation. This covers a broad range of disciplines including economics, international business management, human resource management and innovation studies.
For more information visit the Global Economy summary page.
Health and Population Sciences
This is an area that is undergoing considerable growth within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and is closely aligned to NIHR and Government priorities, incorporating the Research Domains of Health & Population Sciences; Cancer; and Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Neurological Sciences. It represents one of the largest and most comprehensively inter-disciplinary population science centres in the UK, principally focusing on chronic diseases (cardiovascular, cancer, respiratory, occupational/ environmental medicine, maternal and child health, behavioural change) and health services (national horizon scanning centre, health technology assessment, GP commissioning, public health policy analysis and healthy impact assessment). The College has its own Clinical Trials Units as well as an MRC Trials Methodology Hub and Research Design Service.
For more information visit our Health and Population Sciences summary page.
Health, Well-Being and Ethics
The concept of well-being has come to prominence in recent years. It incorporates a holistic understanding of human happiness, optimal functioning and quality of life, rather than an exclusive focus on health-based, financial, or other drivers. The study of well-being is thus inherently interdisciplinary. At Birmingham, we are engaged in research examining questions relevant to health and well-being from vantage points as diverse as medicine, sport and exercise sciences, psychology, ethics and philosophy, and education and pedagogy. We seek not only to understand but to have a positive impact, and thus we aim to translate our work through relationships with the NHS, schools, professional groups, sport organisations and those involved in physical activity promotion, and our own students and staff.
For more information visit the Health, Well-Being and Ethics summary page.
High Energy Physics
With the CERN Large Hadron Collider performing beyond expectations and rapidly collecting data at unprecedented energies and luminosities, High Energy Physics is currently undergoing something of a revolution. Birmingham has a large particle physics group, which has built up a strong reputation over the years, in particular through work on experiments at the CERN, DESY and SLAC laboratories. We currently have internationally leading roles in the areas of proton-proton collisions at the energy frontier (ATLAS), flavour physics (NA62, LHCb), deep-inelastic lepton-nucleon scattering (H1, LHeC) and the development of high performance calorimetry for future applications such as a Linear Collider. As well as being active in physics analysis in all of these experiments, we have contributed significantly to the construction of many of them, in particular through our expertise in building and implementing triggering electronics.
For more information visit the High Energy Physics summary page.
Birmingham-based hormone and metabolism research is widely recognised as world-class and encompasses clinical problems that affect large sections of the population, such as diabetes, obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome. The area incorporates groups from the Research Domains of Hormones & Metabolism, Genetics & Development, Cancer, and Immunity & Infection, the research covering a broad range of activity including steroid hormone action, adrenal and gonadal disorders, endocrine cancer (thyroid, pituitary, adrenal), as well as basic cell signalling.
For more information visit our Hormones / Metabolism summary page.
Household Wealth and Personal Finance
The long-running shift from collective welfare provision towards private individual responsibility and risk for welfare, increasing economic uncertainty and growing inequality have made research around household wealth and personal finance timely and important. The Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) is a joint collaboration between Birmingham Business School and the School of Social Policy. CHASM carries out cutting edge research into financial security, financial capability, financial inclusion, and taxation. Three cross-cutting themes run through the research: variation across countries; the impact of demographic change; and the role of the state, financial services sector, employers, third sector, and individuals/families.
For more information, visit the Household Wealth and Personal Finance summary page and the CHASM website.
This area encompasses research into inflammatory disease, infection, dentistry, cancer, stem cells, structural immunology and aspects of acute injury and incorporates groups from the Research Domains of Immunity & Infection, Cancer and Dentistry. Our excellence in immunological research is reflected by the presence of the MRC Centre for Immune Regulation and by a number of new initiatives that closely integrate the University and NHS, most notably the establishment of a Centre for Translational Inflammation Research in the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Within the Research Domain of Cancer the focus is on tumour immunology, which involves the development and clinical testing of novel gene- and cell-based therapies for cancer.
For more information visit our Immunology summary page.
Liver and Blood-Related Cell Therapy
This area incorporates groups from the Research Domains of Genetics & Development, Cancer, and Immunity & Infection. Although representing very distinct organ systems, research into diseases affecting the liver and blood is linked through common experimental and clinical approaches, including understanding of basic stem cell biology, the development of cell-based therapeutic approaches, and transplantation medicine. Prominent centres that attract considerable recognition and income are associated with both of the aligned clinical disciplines, namely the NIHR Liver Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) and the Leukaemia Centre.
For more information visit our Liver and Blood-Related Cell Therapy summary page.
Materials and Manufacturing
Birmingham’s current strengths in materials range in scale from producing the newest high-temperature alloy to allow aeroengines to run even more efficiently, through tiny micro-machines to the assemblage of materials an atom at a time in nanoscience. They cover applications from the creation of artificial tissue and the engineering of foods to sculpting electromagnetic fields to construct new “optical matter” and materials to form super-microscopes and invisibility cloaks. Birmingham's expertise in materials is an important part of its role in the Manufacturing Technology Centre, a £40m investment by two Midlands development agencies to create a world-class manufacturing research centre, working with industry partners Rolls Royce, Airbus UK and Aero Engine Controls.
For more information visit the Materials and Manufacturing summary page or the Manufacturing Technology Centre page.
Memory and Exile
Memory and exile are studied in the context of the construction and transmission of individual and national identities and in relation to gender, autobiography, philosophy, art practices and museum curatorship. Birmingham has particular strengths in exile studies relating to the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, and post-colonialism. Memory studies, as an independent area of research and a complement to exile studies, emerged towards the end of the 20th century as a key theme across a range of disciplines and has continued to develop in importance in both national and international contexts in relation to these conflicts and the First World War. Researchers at Birmingham are the forefront of both areas and over the past few years have developed new multi-disciplinary collaborations, building on individual scholarship.
For more information visit our Memory and Exile summary page.
Microbiology at Birmingham strives to understand microbial processes at all levels, from molecules to the whole organism. Most research is concerned with prokaryotes, but theme members also have interests in viruses. Birmingham ranks in the top half dozen research centres in microbiology in the UK according to citations measures. Our success is underpinned in part by our co-location with one of the country's oldest, largest and most research-active medical schools, a brand-new "superhospital", the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, and the recently-funded £10m NIHR Centre for Surgical Reconstruction. We collaborate locally with other research disciplines and core facilities, including e.g. biochemistry, mass spectrometry, immunology, structural biology, genomics, modelling, and we benefit from teaching and research collaborations with medical microbiologists in local NHS Trusts (particularly the UHB Trust) and with the Health Protection Agency. Our main areas of study include the basic study of model organisms, infection, environmental microbiology, and microbial biotechnology.
For more information visit the Microbiology summary page.
Molecular Cell Biology
Research in Molecular Cell Biology (MCB) is focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underpin a range of key biological processes in eukaryotic organisms and impact on some of the most challenging areas that confront humankind in the 21st century, such as human health and disease, and food security. Our MCB research focuses on several core areas that are studied using a combination of molecular-cell biology, genetics, bioinformatics and systems biology. A number of groups are working on various aspects of cell-cell signalling and signal transduction in mammalian cells and plants. Several groups are using Drosophila as a model system in which to investigate neural development and post-transcriptional control of gene regulation. Plant reproductive development is also a particular strength. MCB’s research is underpinned by state-of-the-art technology including the Advanced Microscopy facility, genomics and new generation sequencing together with mass spectrometry and other cutting-edge biophysical techniques.
For more information visit the Molecular Cell Biology summary page.
Public Services and Third Sector
We have a distinguished international track record in research, policy advice, and postgraduate and professional education in public services and the third sector. We engage with issues that affect the way democratically-controlled public services are designed, managed, delivered, and experienced by citizens and service users. We also explore the changing role of not-for-profit, third sector, and voluntary organisations and the challenges they face in pursuing their aims in complex governmental, political, and financial environments. Our research not only advances theory but also changes practice, thanks to our close work with governments at national and local levels, not-for-profit organisations, citizen groups, and international organisations.
For more information visit the Public Services and Third Sector summary page.
Security and Conflict
Security is a very broad topic, understood in different ways by different disciplines. Birmingham's research in this area spans a broad spectrum of disciplines, from political science to computer science to ethics. Traditionally, "security" is most associated with international security and the discipline of international relations and associated fields such as strategic studies, development studies, and so on. In these areas, Birmingham has a long and continuing reputation for scholarly excellence and policy relevance. However, at Birmingham we are looking beyond these boundaries to develop innovative and collaborative links between disciplines seeking to understand the impact and influence of security issues on people, whether in the field of war or sitting in front of a computer monitor.
For more information visit our Security and Conflict summary page.
Socio-Legal Studies and Criminology
Socio-legal studies and criminology are two broad overlapping areas. The Institute of Judicial Administration in the School of Law has a long tradition of work in criminal justice – on plea bargaining, jury trials, prosecutions, criminal legal aid, and police powers, to take just a few examples – that is both criminological and socio-legal. Other socio-legal work at Birmingham is on civil matters, such as health care law and policy, small claims and the child support system. Broader criminological work has been carried out in other Schools on, for example, victims of crime, counter-terrorism and local crime prevention. Emerging themes across many current scholars in the University include community justice, victims of crime and the relationship between regulation and other forms of legal control.
For more information visit our Socio-Legal Studies and Criminology summary page.
From our foundation over a century ago, the University of Birmingham has been enaged in energy research. Emphases on coal mining and oil refinery have evolved over the decades, and today our researchers work on resource recovery and manufacturing efficiency, biofuels and hydrogen energy. Energy at Birmingham is a thriving community of over a hundred researchers, who engage in collaborative research both at home and across the globe. We are educating the next generation of energy professionals and hundreds of students every year graduate from our specialised courses and doctoral programmes entering into employment in energy and energy-related industries. The scope of energy research at Birmingham stretches from transport to materials, from hydrogen to nuclear, and we have made several major investments in this area to consolidate and advance our profile in this area.
For more information visit our Sustainable Energy summary page.
Transnationalism and Superdiversity
Transnationalism and superdiversity involves the movement of peoples, ideas and institutions across established geo-political borders. Since the industrial revolution, Birmingham has been a transnational city, one of the key nodal points through which ideas, people, and institutions interact and exchange. Birmingham today is one of Europe's superdiverse cities, where the old, stable patterns of immigration have been transformed, creating a rich mix of ethnicity, faith, culture, language and identity. This makes Birmingham a living laboratory for study by many disciplines: social policy, applied linguistics, politics, social theory, conflict and security, history, development studies, medical science, religion, ethics, law, culture, area studies and many other fields. The focus on Birmingham as a case is complemented by our strong connections with national and international agencies, and with academic networks across Europe and globally working in this field.
For more information visit the Transnationalism and Superdiversity summary page.
Since the appointment of Sir Edward Elgar as the first Professor of Music in 1905, Birmingham has had one of the distinguished music departments in the UK. It benefits from its long and close relationship with the Birmingham Conservatoire, and it is now poised to enter an exciting new chapter in its history with the opening of the magnificent Bramall Music Building in 2012. In 2008 the department was ranked second in the country for the quality of its research. Musicology and composition are particular areas of strength. Musicology has an increasing emphasis on modern and multicultural music and ethnomusicology. Within composition, electroacoustic composition and technology-focused work is prominent, and the Electroacoustic Music Studios and the BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) have been associated with prize-winning compositions and many performances, commissions and broadcasts.
For more information visit our Twentieth-Century Music summary page.