UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


REF publication: key results for the faculty

18 December 2014

Researcher in the LCN


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) has now been published, giving the government's assessment of research quality across all the UK's universities.

The work of the Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences is covered by four of the REF's units of assessment:

  • Earth Systems and Environmental Science - covering the Department of Earth Sciences (including planetary science), as a joint submission with Birkbeck, University of London
  • Chemistry
  • Physics - covering the departments of Physics & Astronomy, Space & Climate Physics and the London Centre for Nanotechnology
  • Mathematical Sciences - covering the departments of Mathematics and Statistical Science.

The Department of Science & Technology Studies was assessed as part of the history, philosophy, geography and library/information science units.

The faculty's units of assessment all saw improved performance compared to the previous exercise, held in 2008.

  • In Earth Systems and Environmental Science, 34% of research was classified as 4* (up from 25% in 2008)
  • In Chemistry, 37% was classified as 4* (up from 15% in 2008)
  • In Physics, 23% was classified as 4* (up from 20% in 2008)
  • In Mathematical Sciences, 27% was classified as 4* (up from 13% in 2008)
  • In addition, the four units of assessment which cover Science & Technology Studies also saw improvements.

There were also large increases in the proportion of research getting 3* grades in all four units of assessment. This shows that UCL's progress in these disciplines is broad-based, with the vast majority of submissions in all the faculty's departments now classified as being 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

In terms of number of 4* submissions [1], the faculty's units of assessment were ranked:

  • 3rd in the UK for Chemistry
  • 4th in the UK for Physics
  • 9th in the UK for Mathematical Sciences
  • 9th in the UK for the UCL/Birkbeck joint submission in Earth Systems and Environmental Science

Prof Nick Brook, Dean of the Faculty, said: "I'm glad to see increases in the research ratings of all of our departments, by whatever metric you choose. The improvement in chemistry and mathematical sciences is particularly impressive. The REF results recognise a huge amount of talent and hard work by all our researchers, and they can be justifiably proud of themselves today."

For the first time, the assessment also took into consideration the social, cultural and economic impact of research. Summaries of the faculty's submissions in this category are now available from the UCL Impact website:


[1] This is the percentage of submissions classified as 4* (world-leading), multiplied by the number of full-time staff submitted to the REF.