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Research Excellence Framework 2021 results for Music and Drama at Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway’s World-Leading Excellence in Music and Drama Recognised in REF 2021

  • Date11 May 2022

The Departments of Music and Drama at Royal Holloway share a commitment to research that challenges inequalities, reimagines historical narratives, and develops innovative ways to participate in the arts.

Music index

The findings of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) have shown the continuing success and impact of Royal Holloway’s Music research, in a joint submission with the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance.

The REF assessors judged 73% of our overall research to be four star or ‘world-leading’, and a further 22% to be three star or 'internationally-excellent’. 

Our Music research challenges social inequalities, opens new ways of engaging with the musical past and present, and explores new creative possibilities in composition, performance and sound design. 64.8% of our jointly-submitted research outputs, including books, articles, performances, and compositions, were judged to be of world-leading quality, and a further 26.7% were judged to be ‘internationally-excellent’.

Our research impact, meaning how our research changes people’s lives, has been judged to show 83% world-leading reach and significance. This includes our work on enhancing lives through participatory arts, and our work transforming public understandings of music education projects such as El Sistema in Venezuela. 100% of our submissions for impact case studies were found to be either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’.

Our REF success reflects our commitment to a nurturing research environment. This measure – how we support staff and postgraduates in their work – was also commended, as we were judged to have a predominantly world-leading research environment (87.5%).

We are also proud to have been ranked 2nd in the UK by Grade Point Average for overall research in the Times Higher Education’s rankings for our combined submission with the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance in the REF 2021 grouping Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, and Film and Screen Studies. 

Dr Mark Berry, Head of Department, said: 'We in the Department of Music could not be more thrilled to announce our results - combined with the Department of Drama - in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). 73% of research outputs—books, articles, book chapters, various forms of practice-based research in performance and composition—have been judged to be 4-star, defined as world-leading, with an extraordinary 95% of research outputs judged to be either 4 or 3-star (internationally excellent). Over several assessment exercises, we have stood at the top of our discipline and continue to do so. 

Ongoing success in research environment (87.5% judged to be 4-star, and 100% either 4- or 3-star) and impact (a notable strengthening of our position, with 83.3% judged to be 4-star, and again an incredible 100% at either 4- or 3-star) attest to achievement across the board from all subdisciplines—musicology, ethnomusicology, performance, and composition—and feed directly into our internationally esteemed research-led teaching. Students want to learn from and contribute to a department in which we write the operas and the books about them, in which we give the performances and study them. Here they do. Experience of the pandemic has confirmed once again how crucial music, like all the creative arts, is to human wellbeing; we play our part as practitioners, as critics, as theorists, and are renewed in our commitment to do so by this outstanding success.'

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