Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is conducted jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL).


Major recognition for Queen's

Over 75% of research activity at Queen’s was judged to be internationally-excellent or world-leading.

In food security, education, pharmacy, health, modern languages, astrophysics, engineering, cyber security, english and history, Queen’s research impacts right across society.


Recognising quality research

14 of the individual areas of research assessed were ranked in the top 20 in the UK, with six of these in the top ten and two in the top five.

Our performance has underlined the breadth and depth of research excellence at Queen’s, with 95% of academic staff returned - the fifth largest percentage of staff returned across universities.


Outstanding research achievement

Our researchers are helping to solve pressing global problems and they are bringing knowledge and understanding to the issues of society.

Over 75% of research activity at Queen’s was judged to be internationally excellent or world-leading.


Progress through collaboration

Throughout the University, our leading research academics are collaborating across disciplines and with outside agencies and institutions on projects of world significance.

Our Global Institutes will open up exciting new research horizons and opportunities to make new progress in areas of global challenge.

Global Research Institutes

UK Top 10 for Research Intensity

2014 intensity weighted GPA rank order


Number of UoAs entered

Percentage of eligible staff submitted

Intensity-weighted GPA

1 Institute of Cancer Research 2 95 3.25 
2 University of Cambridge 32 95 3.17 
3 Imperial College London 14 92 3.09 
4 University College London 36 91 2.94 
=5 University of Bristol 31 91 2.90 
=5 University of Oxford 31 87 2.90 
7 London School of Economics and Political Science 14 85 2.84 
=8 Queen’s University Belfast 28 95 2.83 
=8 University of Southampton 26 90 2.83 
10 University of the Highlands and Islands 6 100 2.76 

To find out more about the REF, see the HEFCE REF website and for more information on its predecessor see the Research Assessment Exercise website.

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Explore Our Research