Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Research Excellence Framework 2021 logo

The University of Roehampton has performed strongly in the REF2021 exercise and jointly recognised as the best modern university in the country for research, and the highest-ranked modern university in London.

The REF2021 exercise assessed our research outputs, impact and environment between 2013 and 2020. We will continue to deliver our research and knowledge exchange, which focuses investment in excellence, external engagement, societal impact and high-quality research, that is supported by external investment.

In the last year we have launched nine research and knowledge exchange centres, which drive forward our research in line with our ambition to address the most urgent needs of society and the communities we serve, including:

  • Environmental conservation and economic sustainability
  • Healthy living and wellbeing
  • Social justice and activism
  • Creative exchange
  • The role of faith in society

View our units of assessment


Some of the highlights of our performance in REF2021 include:

We are jointly recognised as the best modern university in the country for research

77% of the research we submitted has been ranked ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, an increase of 11% since REF2014  

We are the highest ranked modern university in London for research 

We have been ranked 51 (of 129 institutions) overall by GPA, an increase of nine places since REF2014  

We have increased our overall ranking in 9 out of 11 Units of Assessment 

Results by Unit of Assessment:

REF UoA 4* 3* 2* 1* U
Allied Health Professions 22.0 62.0 16.0 0.0 0.0
Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience 26.0 46.0 24.0 2.0 2.0
Business & Management Studies 20.0 51.0 29.0 0.0 0.0
Sociology 32.0 33.0 32.0 3.0 0.0
Education 44.0 38.0 16.0 2.0 0.0
English Language & Literature 39.0 46.0 15.0 0.0 0.0
History 32.0 43.0 25.0 0.0 0.0
Theology & Religious Studies 24.0 30.0 46.0 0.0 0.0
Dance 66.0 25.0 9.0 0.0 0.0
Drama 58.0 29.0 9.0 4.0 0.0
Communication, Cultural & Media Studies 43.0 40.0 15.0 2.0 0.0

What is the REF 2021 and why is it important?  

The REF is the national system for assessing the quality of research in HE Institutions in the UK. The REF takes place approximately every six years with the last REF taking place in 2014. See our REF 2014 results here 

The framework is used by the four UK higher education funding bodies (Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland) to assess the quality of research and to inform the distribution of research funding, which is around £2 billion per year, to UK universities. 

How is the REF conducted?  

Each university in the UK is required to make a submission to the REF. Submissions can be made to 34 subject based units of assessment (UoA). Each university can choose which of the UoAs it makes a submission to and each  UoA submission is assessed on three elements:  

  1. Quality of research outputs - which can include publications, performances, exhibitions, designs, artifacts and reports (accounting for 60% of the assessment) 
  2. Impact of research – its effect on, change, or benefit to the economy, society, policy, culture and quality of life (accounting for 25% of the assessment) 
  3. Research environment – an institution’s research strategy, research facilities, opportunities for collaboration and environment, including research income and research degrees awarded (accounting for 15% of the assessment)

The review of each submission is conducted by an expert panel, there is one for each of the 34 subject based units of assessment, which are overseen by four overarching panels.  

What do the results mean for universities?  

The REF has three main objectives:  

  • Provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment –  this ensures that the work we are conducting is beneficial to society and the wider world.  
  • Provide benchmarking information, for use in the higher education sector and for public information – all of the research we conduct is aligned to our RKE strategy, however the results of the REF provide an external assessment of this work and ensure that our focus remains on improving and building on the already existing outputs and impact.  
  • Inform the selective allocation of funding for research – some of our research funding comes from successful bids to research funding, both nationally and internationally. However, the results of the REF will determine how much we receive from the four national funding bodies.

Explore our Units of Assessment

Allied Health Professions

Our Health Sciences research seeks to understand and promote the key factors that support healthy living and tackle health inequalities.


Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience

Our psychology research has examined drug dependency, withdrawal effects from prescribed antidepressants, and also has a major focus on the mental health of children and young people.


Business & Management Studies

Our research has a particular focus on improving business systems and driving forward a more sustainable and green economy.



Research focuses on providing support for marginalised communities, and ensuring young people have the tools they need to engage in active citizenship.



Our education research is committed to ensuring all children have access to the tools, support and opportunities they need to develop.


English Language & Literature

Our English research is centered on widening access and participation in performance and the creative industries.



Through uncovering experiences of people who have gone before us, we have shaped public understanding of both the past, and present.


Theology & Religious Studies

Publicly engaged research at the intersections of faith, religious practice, and race.



Our expertise in dance has helped improve the lives of people with a range of illnesses.



Our experts have raised the profile of some of the most significant artists and stories of our time to a global audience.


Communication, Cultural & Media Studies

Our research has contributed to the development of innovative methods of filmmaking and enhanced the audiovisual media experience of millions of people across the world.