Research with global reach

As a research-intensive university, Birmingham is committed to conducting research that is world-leading in terms of its originality and distinctiveness, impact and rigour. We are internationally recognised for research that is agenda-setting and for transferring research outcomes to ensure positive impacts on culture and society, human health, the economy and environment.

We encourage individual excellence and capitalise on our distinctive multi- and inter-disciplinary research strengths in order to address key national and global challenges, with research that tackles global health risks, strives to identify new energy sources, encourages adaptation to climate change and even tackles the effects of ageing. We recognise that the complexity of these challenges are best met when the best minds from different disciplines are able to work together, combining their different perspectives and skills.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 confirmed our position amongst a handful of institutions that can demonstrate world-leading or internationally renowned research across such a broad range of subjects. Overall, more than 81% of all research carried out at the University of Birmingham is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in REF 2014. Additionally, 87% of Birmingham’s research activity has demonstrated global impact. Birmingham’s Department of History is ranked the best in the UK, with 87% of its research rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) in terms of its quality. Research in the department spans the medieval to the modern, including topics such as China’s Middle Period, the material culture of the early modern household, and non-governmental organisations in modern Britain. Philosophy research at Birmingham is ranked second overall in the UK, with 80% having a global impact and 83% rated at 4* or 3* level for quality. The Department of Theology and Religion and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology – assessed in the REF as area studies – are also placed second. Ninety-three per cent of Birmingham’s area studies research is rated as 4* or 3*, while the figure is 79% for theology and religious studies. Also ranked among the UK’s best is Birmingham’s research in Classics, with 81% rated as 4* or 3* and almost half having a global impact.

The Research Fortnight’s University Power Ranking, based on quality and quantity of research activity, confirms that Birmingham is the region's top university, leading the way for the UK as a whole across a broad range of disciplines including Primary Care, Cancer Studies, Psychology, Music and Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Details of our research can be found on the University's Research pages.