US mini logoHome | A-Z Index | People | Reference | Contact us

Press release

  • 18 December 2008

Sussex has “world-leading” research in every department, RAE reveals

Sussex research

A bright future for research at Sussex

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

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

Over 90 per cent 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.

A total of 18 subjects at Sussex rank in the top 20 in the UK, 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.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: "The 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 one-sixth of the research produced by our staff is rated as "world-leading", the highest rating possible.

"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."

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

Professor Farthing added: "As with other research-intensive institutions, Sussex's continued strength reflects the focus of Government funding on institutions for research excellence. It is vital that funding for basic research continues to be directed towards excellence wherever it is found, and not just to institutions based on the volume of their activity."

Notes for editors

The RAE gives all institutions a 'grade profile' for the subject areas - called 'units of assessment' - for which it made submissions. These are based on a national assessment of our 'research outputs' (ie the research produced by staff at Sussex),  the 'research environment' (ie how the University supports research and researchers) and 'indicators of esteem' (ie Sussex's standing in the academic community) giving a percentage of activity in each area which is:

  • 4* - world leading;
  • 3* - internationally excellent;
  • 2* - internationally recognised;
  • 1* - nationally recognised;
  • Unclassified.


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")


The RAE results, released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) 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.


In 2001, Sussex was 28th in the UK, taking account of the scores of only those staff submitted.  When all eligible staff were counted (including non-submitted staff as scoring zero), Sussex ranked 18th.


In 2008, the Sussex Grade Point Average of 2.61 - an average of the proportion of staff at 4*, 3*, 2*, 1* and unclassified - places the University 28th of UK universities.


Lancaster University has produced an analysis of the 2008 results which takes account of the proportion of eligible staff submitted by institutions, using national HESA statistics.  This provides a measure of the research intensity of an institution, allowing the proportion of staff submitted to be taken into account.  On this table, Sussex is ranked as the 16th University in the UK.


On a simple grade point average, Sussex has three subject areas ranked among the top five in individual subject tables; seven in the top 10 and 18 subject areas in the top 20.   


They are (ranking position for each subject area in brackets):


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 full details of the Research Assessment Exercise, see

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Jacqui Bealing, Maggie Clune and Danielle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678209 or email


Useful links

Site maintained by: Web team Disclaimer | Feedback