Published: 18 December 2014

Liverpool research ranked in UK top 10

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The University of Liverpool’s research power has been ranked 20th in the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), with seven subjects in the top 10.

81% of the University’s research is ranked in the highest categories of 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent).

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby, said: “These results reinforce Liverpool’s position as a world-leading research institution. Our researchers are working at the highest international levels and the impact of their work is felt across the globe, from advances in medicine to the development of new materials.

“We are very proud of the calibre of our research – both in terms of the impact it has in its own right and the value it adds to the experience of our students studying around the world and online.”

90% of the University’s research impact is considered ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ and makes an enormous contribution to society.

Top ten

Chemistry (1st), Computer Science (1st), General Engineering (5th), Archaeology (5th), Agriculture, Veterinary & Food Science (8th), Architecture (9th), and English (10th), are ranked in the top 10 in the UK for research excellence rated as 4* or 3*, and also performed particularly well in terms of the impact of their research.

The University’s collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has achieved a strong result in Clinical Medicine with a ranking of 7th in the UK for critical mass of world leading and internationally excellent research.

Having attracted £33 million in research funding over the past six years, Chemistry is now working on further research projects with funding totalling £43 million. It has strong engagement with industry and the University’s new £68 million Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) developed in partnership with Unilever and part-funded by one of the first UK Research Partnership Infrastructure Fund grants, will enable academic researchers working in materials science to be co-located with industrial research partners. Chemistry’s leadership in discovery science has helped set the agenda in the world’s top journals.

Multi-million pound research

Research in Computer Science includes the effective design of networks to alleviate congestion, the fairest way to assign junior doctors to hospitals for work placements and the best way to match kidney donors and patients in need of a transplant. Researchers have also developed a computer programme for communication between children and vulnerable adults which is widely used by psychologists, child psychiatrists, health workers, educational workers and specialists in forensic services.

The department has a track record in research in the foundations of computer science, and has also demonstrated how theoretical results can lead to impact through applications that affect everyday life.

Home to a number of multi-million pound research programmes, the School of Engineering works closely with industry and, amongst several examples, has established a research centre with Agusta Westland which has driven the exploitation of a computational fluid dynamics research programme for rotor development. A £6.5 million Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) promotes the use of virtual engineering by companies, drawing on expertise from the University’s Centre for Autonomous Systems Technology and Institute for Risk and Uncertainty.

Researchers in Archaeology are transforming our understanding of key questions in human history, including the origins of our species, the transformation from hunter-gathering to farming societies, the emergence and nature of the world’s earliest civilisations and the archaeology of the UK. Our research has benefited international museums and teachers, providers of educational material, and school children. Successes include Castell Henllys, where excavation and reconstruction of an Iron Age settlement is now a major tourist attraction as well as providing teaching resources for the National Curriculum for Wales. Major investment is creating a suite of new archaeology labs with new high specification analytical equipment for archaeomaterials, archaeobotanical, isotope, lithic studies and experimental archaeology research.

Researchers in Agriculture, Veterinary & Food Science have attracted £60 million of funding in the last six years and have made significant advances in tackling infectious diseases of livestock and food-borne infections. Their research is helping to safeguard the supply of poultry meat and eggs through the development of technologies surrounding the deployment of Avian Metapneumovirus vaccines in poultry. Work on nutrient sensors has provided the rational basis for the supplementation of animal feed with artificial sweeteners, which has led to their worldwide deployment in the diet of early-weaned piglets.

Key partnerships

As well as addressing the cultural and historical context of architecture and the visual arts, research in Architecture addresses the performance of buildings in the context of sustainable and adaptable environmental design. The University’s Acoustic Research Unit transfers fundamental research on building acoustics measurements into International and European Standards, which are referred to in building regulations in 24 European countries.

Academics in the Department of English engage the public in research projects that benefit the lives of communities at local, national, and international level. The department is the only one in the country to have three members of staff to succeed in the Arts and Humanities Research Council Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers scheme. Partnerships include collaborative work with arts institutions, such as the Gladstone and British libraries, which have held popular exhibitions underpinned by original Liverpool research.

The University publishes world-leading research in English Literature, English Language and Creative Writing, including Medieval and Eighteenth Century fiction, contemporary global writing and modern poetry, and through its Miriam Allott Visiting Writer series brings together authors, artists and researchers from around the world for public events.

Ground-breaking

In Clinical Medicine, research in the University’s Institutes of Ageing and Chronic Disease, Infection and Global Health, Integrative Biology, and Translational Medicine has been recognised by the award of Centre status by funders including the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.

Research ranges from basic studies in cell culture models through to research directly involving patients to determine outcomes of interventions to reduce the incidence and severity of a diverse range of diseases and disorders. We are carrying out ground-breaking research into HIV infections, leukaemia, meningitis, river blindness, sepsis and diabetic retinopathy as well as other life-threatening and disabling conditions.

The University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have a long-standing partnership and have obtained more than £320 million of external funding for joint research over the past six years.

The University has also demonstrated its research impact strengths with maximum scores for impacts rated as ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ in: Electrical Engineering & Electronics, Law, the University’s Management School, Social Work & Social Policy, Psychology, and Public Health.

The REF evaluates the quality of research being carried out at higher education institutions across the UK through a process of peer review. The results will be used to allocate £2 billion of public funding for research annually until the next assessment.

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