Birmingham's REF results

Research quality is at the heart of the University, as we believe that excellent research enhances teaching quality and is an essential attribute on the global academic stage. Our commitment to excellence is evidenced in our consistently strong research performance over the years.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

The 2014 REF confirmed Birmingham's position amongst top research universities.

We are delighted that the subjects listed below were regarded as being among the leaders in the UK, and the University is continuing to invest to improve research quality in all areas.


Birmingham’s Department of History is ranked the best in the country, with 87% of its research rated as world leading or internationally excellent 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. 

For more information please visit the History website.


Philosophy research at Birmingham is ranked second overall in the UK, with 83% rated at a world leading or internationally excellent level for quality. The University's Philosophy researchers have also been recognised for bringing significant benefits to society, including work in the field of global ethics in, for example, the governance of the UK Biobank and in genetic research practices.

For more information please visit the Philosophy website


The Department of Theology and Religion is placed second. 79% of Birmingham’s theology and religious studies research is rated as world leading or internationally excellent.

For more information please visit the Theology and Religion website.

Area Studies

The Department of African Studies and Anthropology – assessed in the REF as area studies – is also placed second. 93% of Birmingham’s area studies research is rated as world leading or internationally excellent.

For more information please visit the African Studies and Anthropology website


Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five Russell Group departments of Classics, with over 80% of research judged to be world leading or internationally excellent.

For more information please visit the Classics website.


Psychology was ranked 5th in the Russell Group for its world-leading 4* research making it one of the best stand-alone Psychology schools in the country

For more information please visit the Psychology website

Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

The results placed the University’s Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation researchers among the top three in the UK, highlighting the world-class research programme into pioneering work, including helping ‘hard to reach’ communities to adopt and maintain more active and healthier lifestyles. The opening of the Sport Policy Centre will further strengthen the ties between first-class research and innovative policy making in years to come.

For more information please visit the Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences website.


Among the best in the country is Birmingham’s School of Education, where research centres are carrying out important, cutting-edge work in areas such as autism, character education, race and education, access to higher education, multilingualism, and visual impairment. The department is also integral to the establishment of the University of Birmingham secondary school which opens in September 2015.

For more information please visit the Education website.


The results have highlighted a number of areas in engineering as world class and internationally renowned, including chemical engineering, where scientists are working on new low-fat foods which could lead to improved health, and metallurgy and materials, where scientists are exploring the processing of permanent magnetic materials to recycle rare earth metals, as well as components for aeroengine applications.

For more information please visit the Chemical Engineering website and the Metallurgy and Materials website


Ranked first in the country for Dentistry in terms of world leading or internationally excellent research, academics have joined forces with leading global industry names such as Unilever, Philips and Mars to trial new products which will have health impacts far beyond dental issues, including in diabetes and heart disease. The research has also led to a number of disease assessment tools being launched for high- street dentists, and low-cost tests to help people to stop smoking. In 2015, following significant investment, the first new dental hospital in the UK for 40 years will open as the new home for the University’s School of Dentistry.

For more information please visit the Dentistry website.