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Our research

Leaders in developing sustainable solutions to the world's environmental challenges.

Our world-class research has relevance, reach and influence. It provides the knowledge, and drives the actions needed to define the best solutions for environmental challenges in the 21st century.

Our research base covers a wide spectrum, from understanding the patterns and processes underlying physical geography and environmental science through ecology, economics and human geography, to environmental policy. We carry out the fundamental research that allows us to: 

  • understand the causes and consequences of environmental change
  • use this knowledge to develop innovative solutions to environmental challenges
  • engage with stakeholders to provide credible, relevant and contextualised knowledge to support sustainable transformations and drive social change.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of all of our research, matched to commitments around eliminating poverty, and providing equity and justice for all.

The Research Excellence Framework 2021

  • We’ve improved our ranking to become a top 15 research department, and our research is ranked joint second in the UK for impact, according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

Learn more about the 2021 REF results

Challenge areas

We have defined five new challenge areas which form our departmental research groups.

Impact and engagement

We enthusiastically seek to maximise the impact of our research. Much of our work is undertaken collaboratively with industrial partners, policymakers, non-governmental organisations and practitioners.

Our efforts consistently contribute to regional, national and global sustainable development.


University research themes

Interdisciplinarity is at the heart of our research excellence. We collaborate across the University's research themes, crossing departmental boundaries. We have particularly strong partnerships within three themes:

Committee memberships and advisory roles

Our researchers play leading roles in influencing policy and practice at national, regional and global scales.

We share evidence with governmental bodies and have been called on to advise government ministers and global policymakers. We also support international non-governmental organisations and sit on national and international expert committees.

Explore our memberships and advisory roles