Geography in Bristol ranked 1st for research

The results of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021, published in May 2022), highlight the outstanding quality and impact of Bristol's research across all subjects and disciplines, and particularly in the field of Geographical Sciences. Independent analysis by Times Higher Education ranked Bristol first in the UK in the 'Geography and environmental studies' unit of assessment. Overall, 94% of our research was rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ and of that 54% graded in the highest 4* category. This compares with to an average of 34% 4* in the subject. Although direct comparisons are difficult to make due to changes in the way each exercise was carried out, the School was also first for its world-leading research in the previous REF of 2014.

Reflecting on the results, Professor David Manley, Head of School, comments: ”To maintain our position as one of the UK’s leading geographical research department is an outstanding achievement. It is also a collective one, made possible by the hard work and dedication of all our staff and students, who together make this such an intellectually stimulating place to work and to study.”

“Today’s REF results testify to the highest regard in which our research in human, environmental and physical geography is held within the geographical community. They highlight our world-leading contributions to the discipline that help to better understand and improve the world in which we live. I would like to thank everyone in the School for their part in achieving these results in which we can all be immensely proud.”

All five Schools in the University of Bristol's Faculty of Science were ranked in the UK top five for the quality of their research" in order to highlight quality and collaboration across the Faculty.

The REF is the UK's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It is a process of expert review, carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment, including geography. The School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, remains the only UK geography department to be top rated in every RAE/REF exercise.

Find out more about the impact of our research on major global challenges on our case studies page.

Further information about REF and all the results can be viewed at

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