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Geography recognised once again for world-leading research

Geography recognised once again for world-leading research by latest REF2021

  • Date12 May 2022

The Department of Geography at Royal Holloway has once again been recognised as one of the world’s leading research centres in Geography according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results published today.

Geography’s research has performed exceptionally well in the categories for Impact and Environment where 100% of research was judged to be world-leading and internationally excellent.

The results reveal that just over half of research (53%) has been classified as 4*, the very highest standard, both overall and in terms of output.

This highlights the benefits our research brings to topics of global importance, from environmental and climate change, through social justice and geopolitical security, to cultural and creative knowledges. It also shows our students they are part of an inspiring community, working together with academics who are leading researchers in their fields. 

Based on our REF performance, The Times Higher Education has ranked Geography joint fifth in the country with the University of Oxford and Leeds, demonstrating the exceptional quality of our world class research.

The department has also maintained its top 5 position from REF 2014, continuing to shape the research agendas of the discipline across the world as a leading UK centre for geographical thinking.

Professor Danielle Schreve, Head of Department of Geography said:

“This remarkable result in the latest REF 2021 is richly deserved by colleagues in the department. So much hard work has gone in and it’s wonderful to be recognised for our sustained research excellence, both nationally and as the top Geography department in London by the Times Higher Education rankings. Our research excellence undoubtedly enhances the learning experience of our students and we look forward to welcoming new undergraduate cohorts – the researchers of the future – into a supportive, collegiate and world-leading research environment.”  

Geography has been consistently strong in successive research assessments, and these results once again recognise that our research is making a significant contribution to the world through the quality of published research, innovative consultancy and collaborative projects.

The department has research strengths across natural sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities​:

  • Led by 3 research groups: Centre for Quaternary Research (past landscape and biological responses to climate change, contemporary environmental policy and management), Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice Research Group (territory re/making, im/mobility, in/security and environmental change), Social, Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group (creative and experimental geographies, urban cultures, geographical imaginations, objects, ideas and people), with the overarching interdisciplinary Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities
  • Leadership of interdisciplinary research centres (e.g. Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society) combined with challenge-led research (e.g. Blood Bricks, winner of THE’s 2020 Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) and high profile investigator-led research
  • Embedding researchers at all levels in vibrant research communities; active roles for ECRs and PhDs in intellectual development, eg fortnightly ‘Landscape Surgery’, writing retreats, annual flagship lecture series, underpinned by strong culture of mentoring and Research Leadership Team.
  • Commitment to long-term collaborations with external partners, expert advisory roles, commissioned research (e.g. NGOs, parliamentary committees and extensive public engagement

    The REF provides a robust and thorough assessment of the quality of universities’ research in all disciplines, providing accountability for public investment in research and demonstrating the benefits of that investment.

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