School of Earth and Environment

School of Earth and Environment in the UK top 5 for research

18.12.2014 - 10:25

The results of the national Research Excellence Framework exercise have now been published and we are delighted to announce that the School of Earth and Environment has been ranked 5th out of 44 departments in the UK for overall research quality in Earth systems and environmental sciences. The Research Excellence Framework is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions, undertaken every six years.

This result represents a major improvement compared to our position of 12th in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, and demonstrates our status as a world-leader in research across a broad spectrum of the Earth and environmental sciences.

The exercise has clearly demonstrated both the power and quality of the School’s research. We have been rated as one of UK’s top 2 centres for research power and 90% of our research has reached world leading and internationally excellent standards based on overall quality.

The quality of our research environment has also been rated within the top 2 in the UK, reflecting our culture of supporting both new and experienced researchers as well as major investments in infrastructure and facilities, including £23.5M on a state-of-the-art building for Earth and environmental research.

Our research is relevant to many global environmental challenges and includes work on the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets; predicting volcanic eruptions; the carbon footprint of modern lifestyles; and the potential health impacts of geohazards such as volcanoes. You can see more of our key publications, listed by research theme, here.

Our case studies, 96% of which were rated as internationally excellent or world-leading, meanwhile show how world-class research carried out across the School is having real-life impact, benefitting the economy and society as well as the environment.

Head of School, Professor Robert Mortimer said: "The outstanding result from REF2014 confirms what we have perceived for some time, the School of Earth and Environment is really on the move. It is wonderful to see our rapidly growing contribution to world class research reflected by our newly earned overall top 5 position in the UK and top 2 positions in both our research power and the quality of our research environment. The School will be examining the REF results fully in the weeks ahead and is already developing and implementing strategies leading towards even greater success in the future."

The results clearly show that our efforts over the past six years to increase the quality of our research, as well as the impact that it has on society, have paid off. Some of our headline achievements during the REF period are listed below.

We will continue to build on these achievements, and lessons learned, as we position ourselves for REF 2020 and aim for even greater success.

You can read more about our research, carried out across our five research institutes, here.

Interested in joining us? Find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate courses, research degrees, and job opportunities.

Further information

The full results of the REF 2014 exercise can be found here.

The School of Earth and Environment is one of the leading centres of international excellence across the Earth and Environmental Sciences. In 2013/14 we attracted £13.5 million in research funding.

The School mission is “to lead internationally in research, to deliver a high quality of learning and teaching in Earth and Environmental Sciences and hence to beneficially impact society”. This is supported by a School Strategy that aims to achieve international recognition for frontier research of global impact and influence and by building strong dynamic academic communities across the School. Strong research – teaching linkages are central to this aim with the School being home to over 1,000 students spread across a portfolio of undergraduate, masters and PhD programmes.

Major achievements between 2008 and 2014 include:

  • Producing more than 1,600 publications, which have been cited more than 15,000 times.
  • Increasing the citation rate of our papers from 2.9 to 4.7 cites per paper in the calendar year after publication, compared to a disciplinary average of less than 2.0 cites.
  • Securing £56.8M of research funding, including £36.6M from UK Research Councils and the Royal Society, and growing our annual research income by 70% since 2008.
  • Forming a strategic partnership with the UK Met Office (UKMO).
  • Hosting the NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).
  • Co-hosting the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).
  • Providing 5 Lead Authors for all 3 working groups of the 5th IPCC Assessment Report.
  • Our staff winning 18 personal fellowships and 27 personal prizes or awards for research.