World-leading Research

World-leading Research

Ulster University has increased its level of 4* world-leading research with 87% of research judged to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Key increases in Ulster’s 2021 submission include:

  • 44% increase in  our world-leading 4* overall research profile
  • 53% increase in world-leading 4* research outputs
  • 48% increase in world-leading 4* research environment
View our REF Results
Research with Impact

Research with Impact

Overall, Ulster University has further increased its research positioning in the UK;

  • Ulster University now ranks in the Top 10% of UK Universities for outstanding (4*) or very considerable (3*) research impact.
  • 97% of Ulster’s research was judged as having ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable impacts’ in terms of reach and significance
  • 97% of Ulster's research environment has been judged as being conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality and enabling outstanding impact
  • 80.1% of Ulster’s research outputs have been assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’
View our REF Results
Our Research Focus

Our Research Focus

Our institutional research focus is tightly aligned to our mission, with four thematic research priorities:

  • Social Renewal
  • Sustainability
  • Healthy Communities
  • Creativity and Culture

These priorities are pursued in a purposefully interdisciplinary way across 17 Units of Assessment (UoA) spanning 4 REF main panels, ensuring a strong link between our research and teaching while addressing issues of global relevance with meaningful impact locally, nationally, and globally.

Learn about REF 2021
Our Faculties

Our Faculties

Our four Faculties work across the disciplinary boundaries of their fields in a naturally, interdisciplinary way.

  • Life and Health Science
  • Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment
  • the Ulster Business School
  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

We have worked hard to maintain their sustainability and vitality bringing some disciplines closer together with each other and with industry and external partners to allow for greater scalability and impact.

This inclusive and collaborative approach has driven our suite of new research and innovation projects as part of the new City and Growth Deals in Northern Ireland.

Our Institution

Our Institution

As an institution, we enable and facilitate impact through our partnership approach.

Our pioneering innovative technologies and solutions support some of the biggest global challenges, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental health, access to clean water, renewable energy, increasing crop demand, access to justice, emerging technologies and a range of societal issues such as free legal access, abuse, fragility, violence, and conflict.

In both teaching and research, our strength lies in our partnerships with business and industry and knowledge transfer between them.

“This superb outcome for Ulster University confidently builds on our 2014 outcomes and demonstrates the depth and breadth of our research in diverse disciplines. The emphasis we place on research with impact is fundamental to the purpose of the University, our research community and our many partners in other universities and sectors, so I’m delighted that this has been recognised through this process.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew

REF 2021 Results

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REF 2021 Results

UoA

Unit of Assessment Title

Type

Category A Staff Submitted*

4 Star %

3 Star %

2 Star %

1 Star %

Unclassified

3

Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy

Overall

140.08

42 46 11 1 0
   Outputs   22.6 60 16.5 0.9 0
   Impact   55.6 38.8 5.6 0 0
   Environment   100 0 0 0 0

4

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Overall

31.40

31 43 24 2 0
   Outputs   8.9 48.1 39.2 3.8 0
   Impact   66.7 33.3 0 0 0
   Environment   62.5 37.5 0 0 0

11

Computer Science and Informatics

Overall

69.60

20 72 8 0 0
   Outputs   9.8 76.4 13.8 0 0
   Impact   41.7 58.3 0 0 0
   Environment   25 75 0 0 0

12

Engineering

Overall

39.60

35 59 6 0 0
   Outputs   26.3 63.6 10.1 0 0
   Impact   62.5 37.5 0 0 0
   Environment   25 75 0 0 0

13

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Overall

52.80

42 49 6 3 0
   Outputs   34.1 51.5 9.1 5.3 0
   Impact   40 60 0 0 0
   Environment   75 25 0 0 0

14

Geography and Environmental Studies

Overall

19.60

28 60 12 0 0
   Outputs   26.5 57.2 16.3 0 0
   Impact   50 50 0 0 0
   Environment   0 87.5 12.5 0 0

17

Business and Management Studies

Overall

34.40

31 59 10 0 0
   Outputs   34.9 51.1 14 0 0
   Impact   33.3 66.7 0 0 0
   Environment   12.5 75 12.5 0 0

18

Law

Overall

14.70

46 36 18 0 0
   Outputs   45.9 35.2 18.9 0 0
   Impact   50 25 25 0 0
   Environment   37.5 62.5 0 0 0

20

Social Work and Social Policy

Overall

28.80

41 51 7 0 1
   Outputs   27.8 58.3 12.5 0 1.4
   Impact   66.7 33.3 0 0 0
   Environment   50 50 0 0 0

23

Education

Overall

11.20

32 51 15 2 0
   Outputs   28.6 46.4 21.4 3.6 0
   Impact   50 50 0 0 0
   Environment   12.5 75 12.5 0 0

24

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Overall

19.20

28 61 11 0 0
   Outputs   18.8 62.5 18.7 0 0
   Impact   50 50 0 0 0
   Environment   25 75 0 0 0

26

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Overall

16.20

23 56 20 1 0
   Outputs   12.2 56.1 29.3 2.4 0
   Impact   50 50 0 0 0
   Environment   22.5 62.5 15 0 0

27

English Language and Literature

Overall

12.00

28 52 18 2 0
   Outputs   26.7 53.3 16.7 3.3 0
   Impact   25 50 25 0 0
   Environment   37.5 50 12.5 0 0

28

History

Overall

9.00

23 44 33 0 0
   Outputs   30.4 30.5 39.1 0 0
   Impact   0 75 25 0 0
   Environment   35 40 25 0 0

32

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Overall

31.19

45 38 14 3 0
   Outputs   29.5 42.3 23.1 5.1 0
   Impact   66.7 33.3 0 0 0
   Environment   72.5 27.5 0 0 0

33

Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

Overall

15.80

41 32 20 7 0
   Outputs   17.5 37.5 32.5 12.5 0
   Impact   100 0 0 0 0
   Environment   35 65 0 0 0

34

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

Overall

12.70

21 56 23 0 0
   Outputs   31.3 37.5 31.2 0 0
   Impact   0 100 0 0 0
   Environment   12.5 60 27.5 0 0

*Category A Staff Submitted reflects Full-time Equivalent.

Star Rating Definitions

The  REF 2021 Results Table captures the overall quality profile, namely percentage of research activity at each quality level.

  • 4 star - Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • 3 star - Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
  • 2 star - Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • 1 star - Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Unclassified - Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of this assessment.

“At Ulster University we are committed to creating an environment which supports, promotes and enables research excellence.

Over 96% of our research environment has been assessed as conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality and empowering outstanding impact.

This entirely reflects the quality, commitment, and leadership of our research community, our investment in research, our worldwide contribution, and the strength of our partnerships and collaborations.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor Liam Maguire, PVC Research & Innovation

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