We are placed seventh in the UK for research power according to analysis by Times Higher Education


We submitted 1,804 researchers to our 2021 REF return


We have 135 case studies evidencing our impact on lives across the world



Results from the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) reaffirm the University of Nottingham as among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research.

According to analysis by Times Higher Education, the university has improved its placing in each of the three key measures determined by REF – Research Power, Research Intensity and Grade Point Average (GPA). 

Of the 157 institutions participating in REF2021, the university is placed 7th in the UK for Research Power, which takes into account a combination of the quality of our research, its international impact, critical mass and sustainability. It is placed 25th in the UK for Grade Point Average (GPA) – an improvement from 26th place in REF2014. Our own analysis using THE methodology places the University 24th in the UK for Research Intensity adjusted GPA, which takes into account the proportion of eligible staff returned – an improvement from 28th place in REF2014.


Nottingham has often been recognised for the breadth of its research: to achieve quality across the range of disciplines submitted is a reflection of the talent, imagination and dedication of colleagues across the institution. However I am especially proud of the positive impact that our research has had on people in the UK and throughout the world, which is testament to the determination of our researchers to make a difference to people’s lives.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West


Our REF2021 performance at a glance:

  • 90%* of our research is classed as ‘world-leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education.

  • 51% of our research is assessed as ‘world-leading’ (4*) for its impact*

*According to our own analysis.

  • We are placed in the top 5 for our research in Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Area Studies and Economics
  • Our research in Public Health and Primary Care placed 1st in the UK for real-world impact, with Engineering placing third, and nine of our units of assessment are in the top 10 for the impact of their research
  • We are placed 1st for our research environment in Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Computer Sciences

Explore our impact case studies submitted to REF2021 and view other universities' research impact.

Visit the REF impact database





From our world to yours.
We are UoN Research.

In the REF assessment period (2014-21):

  • The lives of more than 100 million people have been positively changed by our research
  • We saved the NHS £2 billion
  • Legislation informed by our discoveries touches the lives of every UK citizen

Discover how our research changes lives and shapes the future




What is the Research Excellence Framework?

The Research Excellence Framework is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and determines the allocation of around £2 billion quality-related funding a year, starting in August 2022. 

 The Research Excellence Framework:

  • covers all research disciplines
  • gives accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment
  • provides reputational benchmarking information for higher education institutions and the public


The four UK higher education funding bodies that undertake the REF are:


 The REF requires us to submit complex data and evidence to allow our research to be assessed. This covers three benchmarks:

  • Research outputs – based on numbers of research active staff and their outputs (journal articles, performances, edited books etc. (60%)
  • Research impact – demonstrating the difference our research has made to culture, economy, health and society (25%)
  • Research environment – research ecosystem and infrastructure; strategies and mechanisms that support/enable research and impact (15%)


Privacy Notice for REF2021 Evidence Collection

Personal data provided to the University of Nottingham (UoN) for the purposes of evidencing research impact or environment, as part of the REF2021 assessment, will be held only for the duration of the REF2021 assessment. Once the assessment period is complete (at the end of April 2022) any personal data is anonymised and deleted from UoN systems.

The lawful processing purpose relied on is Public Task.

Information will be shared beyond the university with UK Higher Education funding bodies as per the data collection statement.

Understand how the university processes personal data


REF2021 Code of Practice

It is a requirement that every institution making a REF submission needs to develop, document and apply a code of practice for REF2021, including:

  • the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research where a higher education institute (HEI) is not submitting 100% of eligible staff
  • determining who is an independent researcher
  • the selection of research outputs, including approaches to supporting staff with circumstances

The University of Nottingham has developed our REF code of practice through a consultative process and submitted it to Research England on 7 June 2019. The university decided to return 100% of eligible Category A staff to REF2021 and therefore identification of staff with significant responsibility for research does not form part of our REF2021 code.

Definition of Category A staff

As per REF guidance on submissions, paragraph 117, Category A eligible staff are defined as academic staff:

  • with a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, on the payroll of the submitting institution on the census date
  • whose primary employment function is to undertake either ‘research only’ or ‘teaching and research’

Staff employed on minimum fractional contracts (0.20 to 0.29 FTE) on the census date should have a substantive research connection with the submitting unit in addition to meeting the bullet points 1 and 2 above to be Category A eligible staff.

Staff on ‘research only’ contracts should meet the definition of an independent researcher in addition to bullet points 1 and 2 above to be category A eligible staff.