Students Staff

18 December 2008

Essex confirmed among research elite

Essex ranked 9th best university in the UK for the quality of its research in The Times, The Guardian and The Independent newspapers today. See:

Top in the UK in the social sciences, with Politics top, Sociology joint top, Economics third and Linguistics fourth best in the UK.

Second in the UK for History and Essex Business School (Accounting and Finance subject area)

Essex has confirmed its position as one of the UK’s elite research universities with more than 90 per cent of its research recognised internationally for its quality.

The results of the UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), published today (18 December), reveal that almost a quarter of the University’s research is rated as world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour. Overall Essex ranks ninth among UK universities for the quality of its research.

Essex has reconfirmed its position as the UK’s leading university in the social sciences with Politics and Sociology ranked in first position, and Economics in third position nationally. The highest proportions of world-leading research at Essex were in Politics and Economics with 45 per cent and 40 per cent respectively classed as 4-star, with 35 per cent of research in Sociology classed as 4-star.

The Essex Business School was ranked second in the UK in the Accounting and Finance subject area, while History was also ranked in second place, Linguistics fourth, and Art History ninth in the UK. Essex featured in the UK’s top ten in half of the 14 subject areas submitted.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan said: ‘These outstanding results reconfirm Essex’s position as one of the best research universities in the UK. Although a relatively small university, Essex has demonstrated world-leading research quality across a broad range of subjects. This expertise will continue to be applied both to teaching our students from around the world and addressing global challenges.’

The last national Research Assessment Exercise was carried out in 2001. Most Essex subjects have seen increases in the proportion of their research recognised internationally, including Computer Science and Literature.

The results for History (second in the UK, 35 per cent of research rated ‘world-leading’) and Philosophy (11th in the UK, 20 per cent of research ‘world-leading’) come within months of both departments being ranked second in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS).

More than 150 higher education institutions in the UK submitted over 52,000 members of staff to the 2008 RAE, and the quality of their research was assessed by more than 1,000 experts. The RAE is funded by the UK higher education funding councils, and the results will be used to allocate more than £1.5 billion each year to university research.

Each subject area was given a quality profile showing the percentage of research activity judged to have reached each of the quality standards ranging from 4-star for research of world-leading quality, through 3-star and 2-star for research recognised internationally, to 1-star for quality that is recognised nationally. Research falling below this level was unclassified.

One hundred per cent of the University’s Economics research was judged to be internationally-recognised (2-star or above), while 95 per cent of research in Accounting and Finance, History, Psychology, Philosophy, Computer Science and English Language and Literature reached this standard.


Notes to Editors

About the RAE: The ranking system for the 2008 RAE has changed from previous RAEs, making direct comparisons with 2001 difficult. In 2001 each subject area was given a single point score ranging from 1 to 5-star, where 5 and 5-star represented internationally-recognised research. The new quality profiles give a more detailed breakdown of research quality and research environment. For more information about the RAE, please contact Philip Walker in Corporate Communications at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on 0117 931 7363.


For further information please contact the University of Essex communications office on 01206 872400 or e-mail

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