UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


UCL Chemistry rated 3rd in UK for 4* submissions in REF 2021

12 May 2022

The excellence of research at UCL Chemistry and its positive real-world impact has improved since 2014, according to the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF) assessment results announced today.

Pitolisant: a novel therapy for narcolepsy and other rare neurological disorders

UCL Chemistry has had notable success in REF 2021, being ranked 3rd nationally for their 4* research submissions and joint 1st for 4* and 3* submissions. The department achieved 4* or 3* for 100% of their submissions for Outputs, Impact and  Environment, placing them 1st within UCL for this metric. UCL Chemistry showed one of the biggest improvements in 4* outputs in the units of assessment, with 68% rated at 4* in REF 2021. Overall, 4* submission has increased from 5th to 3rd and 4* outputs have improved with a rise in the rankings from 16th to 4th (22.2% 4* increased to 63% 4*). 

The REF is carried out approximately every six to seven years to assess the quality of research across 157 UK universities and to share how this research benefits society both in the UK and globally. 

The results are significant for benchmarking research excellence across UK institutions and are used by the four UK higher education funding bodies to inform the allocation of around £2billion of public investment in research every year. This Quality Related (QR) funding enables us to invest in the best people and facilities, to provide an environment in which early career researchers can thrive and work with our partners to address the biggest challenges facing humanity. 

Case studies submitted to REF 2021 by UCL Chemistry include: research contributing to the development of a drug to treat narcolepsy and Prader Willi Syndrome, significantly improving the quality of life for people with these rare diseases around the globe, and research into the behaviour of catalytic materials which in turn has translated into improved understanding and performance in the areas of energy, environment, bulk and fine chemicals production.

Professor Claire Carmalt, Head of Department at UCL – “I am absolutely delighted with the REF 2021 results for UCL Chemistry, which reflects the department’s superb world leading research. The department has demonstrated improvements in all aspects – outputs, impact and environment including some of the largest uplifts and achieved an overall ranking of 3rd nationally.”

UCL Chemistry has over 60 members of academic staff carrying out world-leading research. We specialise in the areas of organic synthesis, chemical biology, computational chemistry, nanotechnology, inorganic and materials chemistry, and physical chemistry and chemical physics. Find out more about this on the department research pages.