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Queen Mary confirmed as leading research-intensive university

Queen Mary University of London has excelled in today’s Research Excellence Framework (REF)1, confirming once again the University’s status as one of the best research-intensive universities in the UK. 

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The University has been ranked joint 7th in the UK for the quality of its research2. Across the University, 92% of Queen Mary’s research was assessed as internationally excellent or world-leading 

Queen Mary’s drama department was rated first in the UK, repeating its success in the last REF in 2014. Six further subject areas with the university are ranked3 within the top 10 in this year’s exercise: Film, Computer Science and Informatics, Politics and International studies, Engineering, Economics, and History. 

Queen Mary’s strong REF performance is set in the context of its commitment to research and educational excellence, coupled with an unrivalled commitment to social justice and social mobility. Last year, the University was ranked top in the country for social mobility. That same year, Queen Mary was also the first university to have received the Platinum Watermark for Public Engagement, highlighting the significant global impact of its research and education.    

Several of the case studies put forward for assessment in the REF speak to that commitment to research excellence coupled with social justice. Examples include: academics in the University’s Drama and Film Departments using art to reframe and help people engage with difficult issues such as death and violence across the world; research in medicine underpinning the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, saving thousands of premature deaths of adults and children from the damaging effects of air pollution; and academics in the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences empowering NGOs to reduce illegal poaching of sea turtles on Cabo Verde.

Commenting on the results, Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal at Queen Mary University of London, said: “We are delighted by this result for the University, which recognises our research expertise and the positive changes we are making in the world. These results are a testament to our outstanding community of staff, students and alumni and demonstrate strengths across our three faculties.

“And through our impact, I am pleased that we have once again shown that world-leading research and an unwavering commitment to social mobility and justice are not mutually exclusive.” 

Professor Andrew Livingston, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) at Queen Mary University of London, said: “With such a high proportion of Queen Mary’s research impact deemed the highest quality, it is clear we produce exemplary research; it’s also important that it has considerable social, cultural and economic impact. 

“We look forward to maintaining our thriving research culture and providing the very best support for our researchers, as well as an environment in which they can flourish. I am thrilled to see that the fantastic work of colleagues across the University has received the recognition it deserves.”  

More information

  1. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the Government-led process for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It assesses overall research quality through 3 indicators: output, impact, and the environment that supports research.
  3. Ranking from highest to lowest GPA (grade point average) - direct from REF data

Queen Mary’s Strategy 2030 outlines its firm commitment to research and innovation. The University aims to attract the best researchers from all over the world and develop our staff and research students to become leaders in their fields of research. To discover more about our world-leading research, visit

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