Research and knowledge exchange

Delivering internationally high quality research of lasting academic value and with impact that benefits and enriches society. We will do this by:

  • Increasing the number of research-leading staff, developing a competitive, sustainable critical mass in research in targeted areas.
  • Having at least 50 per cent of our units of assessment placed in the top 15 by 2018, with an overall place in the top 20 in the UK's national assessment of research quality.
  • Doubling our research income to £54 million.
  • Increasing the number of research students to achieve an average of two for each member of faculty.
  • Creating three new large interdisciplinary research centres.

Liz James

Bringing together arts and sciences, Professor of Art History, Liz James, and an international group of archaeologists, art historians and glass scientists, are re-evaluating the technology behind the construction of Byzantine mosaics.


Our research will be internationally recognised for its quality, significance and impact, will deliver significant growth in activity, and our Sussex distinctiveness will be recognised in our interdisciplinary approach.


We will be placed in the top 20 institutions, with at least 50 per cent of our research units in the top 15 in their subject areas in the UK's national assessment of research quality. Our expectation will be that all staff produce high-quality research outputs as assessed by their peers, and we will support individuals to generate high-quality and/or high-impact research through the provision of the necessary time, facilities and collaborative environment to succeed, and through more structured and deliberate management of research performance. The internal governance of research will be reformed to improve the translation of this strategy into operational practice.


Our research quality will be developed by:
  • Recruiting internationally competitive research leaders across the University;
  • Enhancing robust internal review and support processes;
  • Seeking partners for major collaborative projects both in the UK and overseas;
  • Targeting support towards key strategic areas for Sussex research, where researchers in those areas are applying for large bids with a realistic prospect of success; and
  • Diversifying our funding sources by increasing the proportion of bids to industry, government departments, and other UK and overseas public and private funders.


We will develop strategies to secure the recruitment of globally recognised research leaders, especially to lead major research centres, as well as of researchers with significant external funding at all career stages.


A formal scheme to welcome and make best use of visiting fellowships will be developed within our framework for international partnerships. This may lead on to Visiting Fellows taking a more systematic collaborative role in teaching and research developments.


We will continue to develop a sustainable and thriving doctoral and postdoctoral research staff community, which is essential to high performance in research. We will attract sufficient external funding to enable an offer of competitive levels of doctoral student funding and will perform well against our peers in aiding the career development of our doctoral students and postdoctoral staff. By providing high-quality supervision and facilities, opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, and support for development of both research and transferable professional skills, we will act as a source of early career researchers equipped to succeed in their field and in their chosen sector. We will achieve an average of two postgraduate research students per FTE member of staff on teaching and research contracts, and ensure that the proportion of such students in our student body is above the average for our peer group of research-intensive institutions.


We will undertake our research to the highest standards of research governance and integrity. To this end, we will maintain and enhance our research governance procedures and support, and ensure an appropriate level of understanding and application, in line with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. We will also take proactive steps to ensure full regard to equalities among research staff, for example by pursuing Athena SWAN and similar accreditation to the highest possible level.


We will create at least three new large-scale University of Sussex research centres. These new centres will address significant international challenges and problems, redefine the parameters of one or more disciplines and act as publicly acknowledged leading centres in their fields. Each centre will either build on existing strengths at Sussex or respond to a new field of enquiry and seek to position Sussex at its forefront. These centres will raise the profile of our research strengths to capture the attention of funders, partners and new high-quality staff and doctoral students.


Our international research links will manifest themselves as: joint publications and joint projects across institutions in different countries, funded from novel sources not previously exploited by Sussex; exchange visits for significant periods of time by faculty; and exchange of postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate research students.


The broader sustainability of our research will be secured with state-of-the-art facilities that are maintained to meet appropriate standards, and with representation of research students and research staff in the governance structures of the University. We will enhance access to facilities by expanding our major research collaborations, in relation both to core research facilities and to doctoral training provision.


We will enhance the training of professional services staff supporting research, both centrally and School based, so that academic leaders can take forward their research activities with confidence in the support they receive.


We will create economic impact by working with clients to translate our research into beneficial use and by working with partners nationally and internationally. We will also create social impact by providing a forum for free discussion and debate, promoting evidence-based policy and informed public discourse. We will undertake work on global topics, with effects in the recognition, reputation and impact of the outcomes, and we will look for ways in which our research can contribute to the innovation of others, by making available our research results in an accessible form.

School classroom in Bangladesh

Researchers in the Department of Education visited schools in Bangladesh to investigate the factors affecting school drop-out rates.

Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science

The new science of consciousness is now revealing its biological basis at the University of Sussex. The Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science is a dedicated research facility that aims to develop an integrated approach to understanding the neural mechanisms of human consciousness.

The Centre was founded in 2010 with a donation from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. Three years on, the Centre, which is co-directed by Professors Anil Seth and Hugo Critchley, has produced over 130 prominent academic publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has implemented successful outreach programmes targeting both the academic community and the wider public.

Interdisciplinary in nature, the Centre brings together consciousness researchers from psychology, psychiatry, informatics and engineering, neuroscience, and cognitive science to address common questions using converging methodologies.

Professor Seth explained the Centre's plans for the future: 'Our research will move beyond correlation to develop new models of neural mechanisms that account for fundamental properties of consciousness.

'Consciousness is at once the most familiar and the most mysterious feature of our existence. I've always been fascinated by the possibility of understanding consciousness, so it is tremendously exciting to take part in this grand challenge for 21st century science.'

Sussex is uniquely placed for such a Centre of international standing, building on its distinguished reputation for multidisciplinary work in cognitive science, neuroscience and experimental psychology.

The Sackler Centre synergises with new developments, including the Brighton and Sussex Medical School with its Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre, which offers cutting-edge clinical and neuroimaging expertise. The Centre's close association with Sussex Neuroscience and the internationally leading Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics provides further scope for collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Professor Anil Seth

Professor Anil Seth measuring changes in the brain's activity using electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques.

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