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Research Excellence Framework 2021

The results of REF 2021 confirm Brunel's position as a top 40 UK research-intensive university, with the volume of our 'world-leading' research – the REF's top category – increasing by nearly two thirds (63%) in the past seven years. 

Overall, 72.7% of the research we submitted to the REF, an independent assessment of the quality of research at universities across the country, was assessed as being world-leading or internationally excellent, and increase from the previous score of 61% in 2014. Our submission involved 659 researchers across the University, together with a dedicated team of support staff. View full results here.

Overall research quality

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prof andrew jones
These results are a reward for the strength and significance of the pioneering research we conduct across Brunel, and of the huge efforts academic staff made in submitting their research for assessment. We seek to address society’s most pressing challenges, in collaboration with partners locally and from across the globe, so it is no surprise that so much of our research has been assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Andrew Jones

View table of results in our areas of expertise

REF Unit of Assessment (click for full details) College Subjects World leading or internationally excellent research 4* 3* 2* 1* FTE equivalent
Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy (UoA 03) College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences Advanced Clinical Practice, Art Psychotherapy (Theory and Practice) MA, Biomedical Sciences, Life Sciences, Occupational Therapy, Physician Associate, Physiotherapy, Public Health and Health Promotion, Specialist Community Public Health Nursing 84.0% 35.0% 49.0% 15.0% 0.0% 72.8
Anthropology and Development Studies (UoA 22) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Anthropology 88.0% 17.0% 71.0% 12.0% 0.0% 11
Business and Management Studies (UoA 17) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Business 64.0% 19.0% 45.0% 25.0% 11.0% 72
Computer Science and Informatics (UoA 11) College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Computer Science 69.0% 27.0% 42.0% 24.0% 0.0% 37.3
Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (UoA 07) College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Environmental Sciences, Flood and Coastal Engineering 81.0% 15.0% 66.0% 19.0% 0.0% 16.4
Economics and Econometrics (UoA 16) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Economics and finance 61.0% 1.0% 60.0% 29.0% 9.0% 37.6
Education (UoA 23) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Education 53.0% 10.0% 43.0% 43.0% 4.0% 18.2
Engineering (UoA 12) College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Flood and Coastal Engineering, Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, Brunel Design School, Digital Media 81.0% 17.0% 64.0% 13.0% 6.0% 152.8
English Language and Literature (UoA 27) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Creative Writing, English 75.0% 32.0% 43.0% 25.0% 0.0% 22.5
Law (UoA 18) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Law 60.0% 26.0% 34.0% 37.0% 3.0% 38.5
Mathematical Sciences (UoA 10) College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences Mathematics 69.0% 20.0% 49.0% 31.0% 0.0% 26.4
Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies (UoA 33) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Film, Games Design, Music, Theatre 65.0% 29.0% 36.0% 26.0% 9.0% 26.0
Politics and International Studies (UoA 19) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences History, Politics and International Relations 80.0% 20.0% 60.0% 20.0% 0.0% 27.0
Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience (UoA 04) College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences Psychology 51.0% 14.0% 37.0% 38.0% 9.0% 34.0
Sociology (UoA 21) College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences Journalism, Sociology 69.0% 18.0% 51.0% 30.0% 1.0% 19.6
Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism (UoA 24) College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences 94.0% 36.0% 58.0% 6.0% 0.0% 26.0
Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy (UoA 03) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 35.0% 49.0% 15.0% 0.0% 1.0%
Output (65%) 41.8% 42.3% 14.3% 0.5% 1.1%
Impact (20%) 33.3% 41.7% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 12.5% 87.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
84% of research in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy at Brunel is world-class or international research

Helping policymakers stub out smoking

The Brunel team’s new tools allowed policy makers to gain a better understanding of what measures would give them a better Return on Investment - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Anthropology and Development Studies (UoA 22) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 17.0% 71.0% 12.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 28.6% 71.4% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
88% of research in Anthropology and Development Studies at Brunel is world leading or internationally excellent

Rwanda’s ‘Uber for motorbike taxis’ triumph

An uber-style phone app that helps motorbike taxi riders find careful drivers and makes the streets safer transforms transport across Africa. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Business and Management Studies (UoA 17) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 19.0% 45.0% 25.0% 11.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 21.1% 52.2% 25.0% 1.7% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 25.0% 16.7% 16.6% 41.7% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 62.5% 37.5% 0.0% 0.0%
64% of research in Business and Management at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Business brains helping Uganda dairy farmers milk it

Waste-saving ideas borrowed from Japanese car makers are the magic formula helping Uganda’s dairy farmers - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Computer Science and Informatics (UoA 11) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 27.0% 42.0% 24.0% 0.0% 7.0%
Output (65%) 39.8% 41.9% 17.2% 0.0% 1.1%
Impact (20%) 12.5% 37.5% 25.0% 0.0% 25.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
69% of the research in Computer Science and Informatics at Brunel is world-class or internationally recognised

Connecting Africa: New Networks for Open Science

The Brunel team set about working with groups in a number of African countries to share the research and knowledge that underpinned the European system. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (UoA 07) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 15.0% 66.0% 19.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 4.9% 82.9% 12.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 25.0% 75.0% 0.0% 0.0%
81% of research in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

New safety laws for chemicals

Our food, our water and the things we use everyday are constantly contaminated by hundreds of harmful chemicals that build up in bodies and the environment. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Economics and Econometrics (UoA 16) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 1.0% 60.0% 29.0% 9.0% 1.0%
Output (65%) 1.1% 57.4% 35.1% 5.3% 1.1%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 50.0% 25.0% 25.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 87.5% 12.5% 0.0% 0.0%
61% of research in Economics and Econometrics at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Caribbean pensions on a better financial footing

An outstanding example of how effective pension reforms can have a fundamental impact on both regulators and at-risk people in several countries. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Education (UoA 23) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 10.0% 43.0% 43.0% 4.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 17.4% 47.8% 28.3% 6.5% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 25.0% 75.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
53% of research in Education at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Helping housing associations offer hope

Dr Wainwright drew on geographies and sociologies of education, training and welfare to help housing associations design smarter services for their residents - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Engineering (UoA 12) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 17.0% 64.0% 13.0% 6.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 14.4% 64.7% 15.7% 5.2% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 11.1% 61.1% 16.7% 11.1% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 37.5% 62.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
81% of research in Engineering at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Wrexham firm decked out with Brunel research

Prof Fan’s helped the company develop the technology needed to produce a consistent and reliable product from a wood and plastic composite - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

English Language and Literature (UoA 27) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 32.0% 43.0% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 35.7% 39.3% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 33.3% 33.4% 33.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 12.5% 77.5% 10.0% 0.0% 0.0%
90% of research environment in English Language and Literature at Brunel was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent

Transforming the literary landscape

Brunel English academics had collectively changed their industry, making it more inclusive, more diverse and more reflective of 21st century Britain. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Law (UoA 18) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 26.0% 34.0% 37.0% 3.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 21.8% 34.5% 39.1% 4.6% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 50.0% 25.0% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
64% of research in Law at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Problems with family courts exposed

Dr Barnett has changed public opinion, shaped the political agenda and changed laws and legal practice to help domestic abuse survivors and their children. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Mathematical Sciences (UoA 10) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 20.0% 49.0% 31.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 19.7% 68.2% 12.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 33.3% 0.0% 66.7% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
69% of research in Mathematics at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Extreme modelling: statistical research fix for difficult-to-predict situations

Prof Yu’s disseminated modelling approaches have been used by TWI in Japan and the United Arab Emirates, to reduce risk of catastrophic incidents. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies (UoA 33) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 29.0% 36.0% 26.0% 9.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 35.4% 30.8% 26.1% 7.7% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 50.0% 33.3% 16.7% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 55.0% 32.5% 12.5% 0.0% 0.0%
65% of research in Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Putting working class actors centre stage

Award-winning documentary The Acting Class spotlights the class divide in the creative industries focussing on the barriers for young working class actors. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Politics and International Studies (UoA 19) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 20.0% 60.0% 20.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 16.2% 55.9% 27.9% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 33.3% 66.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 12.5% 62.5% 25.0% 0.0% 0.0%
80% of research in Politics and International Studies at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

21st century poachers: How intelligence experts are helping save the rhino

Intelligence-led approach helps parks reduce their poaching incidents and increase poaching arrests. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience (UoA 04) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 14.0% 37.0% 38.0% 9.0% 2.0%
Output (65%) 23.1% 48.7% 24.4% 1.2% 2.6%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 0.0% 66.7% 33.3% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0%
51% of research in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

See Less: How to help a billion breakups

Facebook rolled the See Less button out to 2.7 billion users, with hundreds of millions of people using the feature to control whose life interacts with theirs. - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Sociology (UoA 21) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 18.0% 51.0% 30.0% 1.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 30.6% 32.7% 34.7% 2.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 0.0% 37.5% 62.5% 0.0% 0.0%
69% of research in Sociology at Brunel is world-leading or internationally excellent

Sensing our need for authentic experiences of cities

Research shaping new ways of thinking and informing new working practices for museum curators, educators, architects and urban planners - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism (UoA 24) 4* 3* 2* 1* U/C
Overall 36.0% 58.0% 6.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Output (65%) 29.2% 61.6% 9.2% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact (20%) 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment (15%) 37.5% 62.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
94% of research in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism was rated as world leading or internationally excellent

Making the beautiful game fair play

Sports sociologist, Dr Laura Hills’ research into mixed gender football directly set up five far-reaching changes in national policy - Example of REF 2021 Case Study Read more

 

Six quick facts about our submission

  • 100% of eligible staff submitted across 16 areas of study (Units of Assessment)
  • Submission size increased to 659 staff, up 10% since 2014 in FTE terms
  • 1,576 research outputs, including papers, performances and prize-winning fiction
  • 59 impact case studies collaborating with partners all over the globe
  • £158 million research grant income
  • 1,263 doctoral degrees awarded

 

Independent assessment of our research quality

The quality of the research we submitted was assessed by four expert panels made up of academics (including from Higher Education institutions in the UK and overseas), research users and experts in interdisciplinary research.

 

View a selection of our REF impact case studies

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