Research and knowledge exchange

Research assessment

Research assessment takes place in several forms both within the University and externally, but the most prominent form is in the UK's national research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The REF first took place in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), an exercise run across the UK on a periodic basis between 1986 and 2008. The next REF is scheduled to take place in 2021.

The University's results from the last three RAEs are available via the links below:

RAE 2008 Results

The University of Sussex has world-leading research in every single department, results from the 2008 national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) show.

The RAE results, released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on 18 December 2008, assess the quality and quantity of research activity in the country's universities. The results also feed in to the research funding allocated by HEFCE to those institutions.

Over 90% of Sussex research activity is rated as world-leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognised, confirming the University among the leading 30 research universities in the UK, on a simple average across all scores.

Initial analysis of the figures shows that, across all subject areas, Sussex's overall grade profile is:

  • 16% at 4* ("world-leading")
  • 40% at 3* = ("internationally excellent")
  • 35% at 2* = ("internationally recognised")
  • 8% at 1* = ("nationally recognised")

 

Sussex submitted the work of over 535 staff to the RAE, nearly 90% of those eligible, with over 485 achieving work that is internationally recognised or better. Taking account of all staff who could have been submitted, with some institutions excluding many eligible staff, Sussex is at 16th place overall - a measure of the research intensity of the institution.

18 subjects at Sussex rank in the top 20 in the UK (see below), across the arts, sciences and social sciences, with the American Studies department rated number 1 in the UK, Politics rated at number 2 in the UK and Art History at number 3.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, said: "These results achieved by Sussex confirm our position as a strong broadly-based research intensive University, producing peaks of world-leading research across all our departments in the arts, sciences and social sciences. I am delighted that 1 in 6 of the research outputs which our staff produce is rated as "world-leading", the highest rating possible.

"So Sussex should be pleased, but not satisfied. During the next five years we should plan to do even better, growing in both research quality and capacity. We will be developing and growing research activity at Sussex, building on these results to strengthen further our world-leading bases. We are focusing on developing new cross-cutting research themes which address real world issues, growing research contract income and attracting high quality postgraduate research students."

Top 20 rankings at Sussex

18 subjects at Sussex rank in the top 20 in the UK, across the arts, sciences and social sciences:

  • American Studies (1st of 8)
  • Politics (in "European Studies" Unit of Assessment) (2nd of 27)
  • Art History (3rd of 30)
  • International Relations (7th of 59)
  • Anthropology (7th of 19)
  • Media and Film (8th of 47)
  • Preclinical and Human Biology (8th of 13) [includes Neuroscience, Biochemistry and Genome Centre]
  • Education (11th of 82)
  • Physics (12th of 42)
  • Psychology (12th of 76)
  • Geography (13th of 49)
  • Engineering (14th of 52)
  • SPRU (in "Politics and IR" Unit of Assessment) (14th of 59)
  • Social Work (14th of 68)
  • History (15th of 82)
  • Law (16th of 67)
  • Sociology (16th of 39)
  • Philosophy (18th of 42)

For all 26 subjects see the full table of results.

RAE 2001 Results

The results of the government's 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, announced 14 December, show that the University has achieved its aim of grade 4s and 5s across all subjects, recognising research of national and international standard respectively. Sixty-five per cent of staff submitted were in groups that have been graded 5.

New grade 5s are Applied Mathematics, Education, Engineering, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology and Social Anthropology.

Other subjects that have improved their grades are Geography, Law, Linguistics, Russian and Statistics.

The Sussex results are shown in the table below.

 20011996
Subject Grade Staff Grade Staff

American Studies

5

10

5

11

Biological Sciences

5

76.6

5

75.5

Chemistry

5

33

5

34.5

Computer Science

5

28.71

5

30.3

Economics

4

15

4

20

Education

5

19.85

4

33.4

Engineering

5

31.33

4

33.8

English

5

26.25

5

27.7

Geography

4

20.83

3a

21

History

4

23.3

5

25.6

History of Art

5

8

5*

8

Law

4

18.83

3a

18

Linguistics

4

6

3a

5

Mathematics - Pure

4

10.75

5

9

Mathematics - Applied

5

6

4

4

Mathematics - Statistics

4

5

3b

4

Modern Languages:

       

French

4

8

5

12

German

4

4.5

5

3.7

Italian

4

3

4

3

Russian

4

1.22

3a

3

Media Studies

4

14

5

10.5

Music

5

4

4

2.6

Philosophy

5

11.5

4

10

Physics

5

21.67

3a

28.3

Politics and IR

4

28.83

4

23.5

Psychology

5

12

3a

10

Science Policy Research Unit

5

28.65

5

39.5

Social Anthropology

5

16

4

14

Sociology & Social Psychology

4

22.55

4

25.3

RAE 1996 Results
  1. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) carried out in 1996 is the most recent official exercise. The 1996 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) continued to reflect national recognition of the University of Sussex continued progress.
  2. In the 1996 RAE Sussex gained new grade 5's in American Studies, History, Pure Mathematics, French, German and Media Studies. History of Art achieved grade 5* - the new top grade for groups that have achieved "research quality that equates to attainable levels of international excellence in a majority of sub-areas of activity and attainable levels of national excellence in all others". Most grades 5* went to Oxford and Cambridge.
  3. Law, Psychology and Social Policy/Social Work jumped two grades to achieve 3a. The complete list of grades (with the previous grades for comparison) is as follows:

     199619921989
      grade staff grade staff grade
    American Studies 5 11 4 10 3
    Biological Sciences 5 75.5 5 61 4
    Chemistry 5 34.5 5 26.5 4
    Computer Science 5 30.3 5 25 5
    Economics 4 20 4 19 3
    Education 4 33.4 4 35.6 4
    Engineering 4 33.8 4 27.3 4
    English 5 27.7 5 25.7 3
    Geography 3a 21 3 13 3
    History 5 25.6 4 19.5 2
    History of Art 5* 8 5 6 4
    Law 3a 18 2 11 1
    Linguistics 3a 5 3 4 3
    Mathematics - pure 5 9 3 12 3
    Mathematics - applied 4 4 3 6 3
    Mathematics - statistics 3b 4 3 6 3
    Modern Languages          
    French 5 12 4 9 3
    German 5 3.7 3 3 2
    Italian 4 3 3 2 3
    Russian 3a 3 4 1 2
    Media Studies 5 10.5 4 6 -
    Music 4 2.6 4 3.7 3
    Philosophy 4 10 4 8.7 4
    Physics 3a 28.3 3 33 3
    Politics and IR* 4 23.5 3 13 3
    Psychology 3a 10 2 13.5 2
    Science Policy Research Unit 5 39.5 5 31.8 4
    Social Anthropology 4 14 4 8.5 3
    Social Policy/Social Work 3a 6.5 2 11.5 1
    Sociology 4 25.3 4 10 4
  4. the Sussex European Institute was a flagged research group.
  5. Our weighted average grade is now 4.39, an increase of 9 per cent on the previous figure of 4.03.
  6. The University ranks 7th in the UK for the percentage of research-active staff in groups ranked 5 or 5*. A total of 83% of academic staff at Sussex work in subject groups with ratings of 4 and 5, indicating research of national and international excellence. On this measure The University of Sussex ranks 12:

REF 2014

Information on the 2014 REF can be found via this link:

2014 REF: Impact Case Studies