The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a UK-wide assessment of the quality of research in universities undertaken by expert review panels. 

Each subject area was assessed under ‘units of assessment’. The REF is undertaken on behalf of Government by the funding councils for higher education.

REF 2014 logo

  • We were ranked 14th overall in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
  • The proportion of our research of world-leading 4* status was among the highest of any UK university.
  • We were rated tenth out of 122 higher education institutions for the impact of our research.
  • Eight departments were ranked in the top five for their subject. Twelve were in the top ten for research impact.

Departmental results

DepartmentREF comment
Archaeology Fourth for overall research performance against other Archaeology departments and in the top five for proportion of 4* research activity and research impact.
Biology Eighth for overall performance and first for research impact.
Chemistry 94% of research activity in the department is internationally excellent.
Computer Science Equal seventh for overall performance in the unit of assessment, and fifth for research impact. The department has seen a significant improvement in ranking from sixteenth in RAE2008.
Economics Eighth for research impact.
Education Equal ninth for proportion of 4* research activity.
Electronics 87% of research activity in the department judged as internationally excellent.
English Second overall for research performance, and first for proportion of 4* research outputs.
Environment 96% of research activity in the department is internationally recognised.
Health Sciences
(CHE, CRD)
Equal seventh for overall performance in the unit of assessment, and equal first for research environment.
History Second overall for research performance - a significant improvement from nineteenth place in RAE2008.
History of Art Third for research performance against History of Art departments and second for impact of research.
Hull York Medical School HYMS staff were part of the University of York’s top-10 rated submissions in Health Sciences, Biology, Psychology, and Archaeology.
Law Excellent first submission from this new department, which ranked equal 5th overall, and equal 4th for impact.
Language and Linguistics Second for proportion of 4* research activity.
Management The vast majority of the departmental research is rated 3* or 4*.
Maths 80% of research activity in the department rated as internationally excellent.
Music 96% of activity in the department is judged as internationally recognised.
Philosophy 96% of activity in the department is judged as internationally recognised.
Physics 95% of research activity in the department is internationally excellent.
Politics Eighth overall for research performance - a significant improvement from twenty third place in RAE2008.
Psychology Fourth for overall performance, and second for research outputs.
Social Policy and Social Work Placed third overall for research activity, with 100% of research impact rated 4*.
Sociology Top rated institution in the UK, maintaining the top ranking from the RAE2008, with 100% of research impact rated 4*.
Theatre Film and Television Successful first submission from this new department, and placed in the top fifteen for the proportion of 3* and 4* research outputs.

* The REF exercise is a measure of research quality. The rankings within this listing are based on Grade Point Average (GPA) unless otherwise identified. Some rankings are listed excluding single or specialist institutions who returned in fewer than three Units of Assessment. 

Units of assessment

A full breakdown of the results according to the REF units of assessment is shown in the table below.

Unit of AssessmentOverall quality profile 
(percentage of research activity at each level)
4*3*2*1*U/C
Archaeology 42 31 21 6 0
Biology 47 43 10 0 0
Chemistry 27 67 6 0 0
Computer Science 44 46 10 0 0
Economics 17 60 22 1 0
Education 44 37 15 3 1
Electronics 4 83 13 0 0
English 61 27 12 0 0
Environment 14 56 26 4 0
Health Sciences 42 41 16 1 0
History 42 47 11 0 0
History of Art 47 36 16 1 0
Law 46 44 8 0 2
Language and linguistics 45 40 7 2 6
Management 23 45 28 4 0
Maths 17 63 20 0 0
Music 29 50 17 4 0
Philosophy 14 50 32 4 0
Physics 21 56 18 5 0
Politics 37 43 19 1 0
Psychology 51 44 5 0 0
Social Policy and Social Work 54 33 12 0 1
Sociology 41 46 12 1 0
Theatre, Film and Television 11 64 25 0 0

Key

  • Four star (4*): World-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Three star (3*): Internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence.
  • Two star (2*): Recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • One star (1*) Recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
  • Unclassified (U/C): Falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of this assessment.