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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Geography achieves outstanding results in the Research Excellence Framework 2014

Published: 19 December 2014
Centenary research

The University of Southampton is one of the UK’s top research universities, ranking 11th for the volume of its high quality research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

The REF rated 84 per cent of Southampton’s overall research activity as world-leading and internationally excellent. Over 97 per cent of the University’s research environment and nearly 90 per cent of its research impact have been assessed as world-leading and internationally excellent.

The Geography department has performed particularly well, with 82 per cent of our research activity being rated as either of “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in quality (that is, either 4* or 3*) and all of our research activity was recognised for its international quality (4* + 3*+2*). As a result Geography is now ranked 11th overall amongst UK Geography departments for the quality of our research, up 10 places on the last research assessment exercise in 2008.

The REF exercise measured performance against three main criteria, namely the quality of the scholarly publications (“outputs”) produced by the department, its research “environment”, and the societal “impact” that we generate.

The Department has achieved particular success in the assessment of scholarly outputs; on this measure Southampton ranks 5th in the UK overall, with 79 per cent of publications rated as being either “world-leading” or “internationally excellent.”

The Department’s research environment was also found to be of international quality across the board, with 100 per cent of it being assessed either as "internationally excellent" or "world-leading", reinforcing the high quality of working environment offered to both staff and students.

One of the new assessment criteria introduced for REF 2014 was the wider societal impact of research. Southampton Geography submitted 4 impact case studies where research had translated into real-life applications with broad benefits to society, the economy, politics and the environment. Over 80 per cent of our impact activity was graded 3* and 4* - that is, as having "outstanding" or "very considerable" impacts in terms of their reach and significance.

Professor Stephen Darby, Head of Geography and Environment comments, "I am delighted, but not surprised, that our research was almost universally assessed as being of international quality. Our results confirms that we carry out excellent research that has proven and wide-ranging societal impact internationally and nationally. I am especially pleased with our substantial upwards trajectory since the last assessment, and that we have achieved a top 5 ranking for the overall quality of our publications. The REF 2014 results are clear evidence that students at Southampton are taught by some of the best academics in the world and enjoy an outstanding set of facilities. Our research activity informs teaching so that we offer our students a world-leading education."

Please visit the REF 2014 website for the University of Southampton’s complete results.


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