UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


UCL Physics REF 2021 submission ranking 5th highest for research power

12 May 2022

The excellence of UCL Physics research and its research environment have been confirmed, according to the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF) assessment results announced today.

UCL physicists made key contributions to the creation of the first image of a black hole

The UCL Physics submission is a joint submission from UCL Physics & Astronomy, UCL Space & Climate Physics and part of the UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology.

Our UCL Physics 2021 submission had the fifth highest ‘Research Power’ of all Physics submissions nationally. We have an excellent overall ranking in outputs with a combined 4*/3* of 96.4% that places us 6th at UCL. In the sector comparison, in terms of 4* percentage we are Q4 (top quartile) for environment. 

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 Physics & Astronomy, UCL Space & Climate Physics and the UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology included several centred on engaging the public with our physics research and others related to commercial applications of our research and our engagement with industry.

“We are delighted that the vast majority (96.4%) of the UCL UoA 9 (physics) research activity was judged to be ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’. Also very pleasing is the high rating of our environment, which reflects our research strategy, infrastructure, investment, commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and support for our staff. This is a very good basis for further exciting discoveries and achievements in the years ahead across our Unit of Assessment”, said the Heads of the three Departments involved, Professors Fazakerley, Fisher and Prinja.

The REF 2021 submission includes only a small sample of the dynamic and ground-breaking research undertaken by UCL Physics & Astronomy, UCL Space & Climate Physics and the UCL London Centre for Nanotechnology. Please follow the links for more information on their other research successes.



  • First image of a black hole credit: The Event Horizon Telescope team