Our Education research

The Department of Education is internationally recognised for its expertise in producing theoretically informed, empirically driven, policy-relevant research. Explore our research stories and see our REF 2021 results.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

We're delighted with our performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The School of Education & Social Work made submissions to two Units of Assessment (Education and Social Work & Social Policy). Each received a different set of grades.

Our Department of Education research was submitted to Unit of Assessment 23: Education.

Overall our research was assessed to be 57% ‘world leading’ (4*) and 31% ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

  • Outputs were assessed as 38.5% ‘world leading’ and 42.3% ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Research Impact was judged to be 100% ‘outstanding’.
  • Research Environment was judged to be 62.5% ‘world leading’ and 37.5% ‘internationally excellent’.

Across the University of Sussex as a whole, 89% of research activity submitted was categorised as either ‘world-leading’ (40.6%) or ‘internationally excellent’ (48.4%). Additionally, the proportion of Sussex Research Impact assessed as 'outstanding' has increased from 35.3% to 50.0% (by 14.7%) since the REF 2014 exercise. The results of REF2021 were published on 12 May 2022.

See the University’s full REF 2021 results.

Research with impact

Our research is characterised by:

  • cross-world understandings: spanning high, mid- and low-income countries
  • challenging hegemonies: Advancing theory and shaping debate in policy, research and practice
  • rigour and innovation in methodology: encompassing diverse quantitative and qualitative approaches to formative research and complex evaluation
  • making a difference: shaping research agendas and informing policy and practice development to drive improvements in educational and social outcomes.

Explore our research impact stories.

Research undertaken in the Department is of immediate policy and practice relevance. We work closely with a wide range of research users and partners, including national governments. We actively support the transfer of research insights into practice including through our relationships with local stakeholders.

Research centres

Our four research centres occupy a central place in what is a stimulating, interdisciplinary research environment. Each is built around an area of specialist expertise. Together they support and promote the production of rigorous, critically engaged research.

Find out more about our research centres:

Doctoral research

The Department of Education is home to a diverse cohort of doctoral researchers, who come from around the world. Doctoral education is an important way in which we can contribute to research capacity development, both domestically and in the Global South. 

Our commitment to interdisciplinarity is reflected in the number of doctoral researchers involved in cross-school and cross-university supervisions. 

Explore our PhD courses


The School of Education and Social Work is based in Essex House at the University of Sussex campus. Find out how to get here.

Contact the School office: eswenquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

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