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The results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) have demonstrated clear and consistent improvements in both the volume and quality of research produced across the University. In particular, the results published for the University of Chester show that 51% of research has been assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, compared to 31% in the first REF in 2014. Read more about our REF 2021 results.

The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).  The funding bodies’ shared policy aim for research assessment is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education. 

The most recent exercise was submitted in March 2021, with University of Chester submitting to 19 of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UoAs), under the guidance of four main panels.  The REF is a process of expert review and these expert panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users.   

For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.  Information on the University of Chester submission to REF2021, relating to these three elements, can be found under each submitted UoA: 

Main Panel A 

Main Panel B 

Main Panel C 

Main Panel D 

Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy



Geography and Environmental Studies



Area Studies

Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience 


Mathematical Sciences 




English Language and Literature 

Biological Sciences


Computer Science and Informatics


Business and Management Studies  








Social Work and Social Policy


Theology and Religious Studies 








Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory






Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism


Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies 

In line with the requirements of REF2021, the University of Chester developed, documented and applied a Code of Practice on the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research; determining who is an independent researcher; and the selection of outputs, including approaches to supporting staff with circumstances.  The REF2021 Codes of Practice Complaints and Investigations Process opened on 1 April 2021; to provide assurance to the UK funding bodies that COPs are being applied as set out by institutions participating in REF 2021 and provide assurance to the UK funding bodies of the accuracy of submissions to REF 2021. This assurance helps meet the UK funding bodies’ obligations concerning equality, diversity and inclusion.  

REF 2014 

The University of Chester was found to have made steady progress over all within the Research Excellence Framework undertaken in 2014, with significant improvement across the 16 Units of Assessment into which submissions were made.  All academic areas submitted were judged to include international excellent research, with many areas also including world leading research. 

The full results for the University of Chester can be viewed on the REF 2014 website