REF results highlight success of Aberdeen's Theology and Public Health research

Results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 - a discipline-based expert review process - were announced today (Thursday May 12).

The University of Aberdeen has maintained its position as fifth in Scotland for research power during the assessment period, which covers 2014 to 2020.  

Highlights for the institution include Theology and Religious Studies, which came top in the UK by Grade Point Average, and Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care for which Aberdeen was top in Scotland and eighth in the UK based on the same measure. 

The REF measures the success of research outputs such as academic papers and books; research impact looking at the difference university research is making to the wider world; and the research environment which looks at research infrastructure, research metrics and how the institution supports researchers throughout their career.  

Theology and Religious Studies was ranked highly across the various measures and its impact was rated as ‘world leading’ - the top measure of research quality.  

Examples submitted to the assessment process include work supporting the spiritual lives of people living with dementia and research which informed the development of the ‘military covenant’, a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve in the armed forces are treated fairly.  

In Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care examples of the ‘world leading’ research submitted included work to support the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol, smoke-free legislation and the use of robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer. 

Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences was rated seventh in the UK for research power. 

Professor Marion Campbell, Vice-Principal, Research, said: “We are delighted that our Theologians have been recognised for their work, including research to improve the spiritual lives of people with dementia and research helping to inform the military covenant. 

"We are also pleased to be acknowledged for our public health research which has informed policy on important areas such as alcohol pricing, the dangers of second-hand smoking and informing the use of robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer. This area has also played an important role in supporting responses to the pandemic beyond the REF assessment period.   

“We submitted a wide breadth of research involving more than 700 academics and this has been an important springboard for our young talent – one in five of our REF submissions was from early career researchers – and we look forward to seeing their research expertise grow.” 

Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice- Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The University has maintained its position as fifth in Scotland.  

“We are already building upon the successes in a number of key areas and look forward to making an even wider and greater contribution to the world around us over the coming years. Through our Aberdeen 2040 strategy we are making further significant investment in both our staff and facilities which will enable us to further improve our globally excellent and locally relevant research.” 

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