A major success for Physics & Astronomy in Edinburgh

We are delighted to announce that the University of Edinburgh has been rated as one of the top centres for Physics & Astronomy research in the UK.

Overall results

The School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh was ranked 4th in the UK and 1st in Scotland in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 listing for the quality, scale and breadth of its research by Times Higher Education. This is particularly impressive as the School submitted 119 staff for assessment (an increase of 78% from REF2014).

97% of the School’s research outputs were measured as world-leading/internationally excellent (with a score of 4*/3*) and nearly half (46%) of the research outputs were judged to be world-leading (4*).

  Research Power Ranking*  


 1  University of Oxford
 2  University of Cambridge
 3  Imperial College London
 4  University of Edinburgh
 5  University College London

+ 39 other higher education institutions

 * the Times Higher Education Research Power index values the influence of research by multiplying quality grading by the number of academic staff reported.

Within the top 5 physics departments in the UK, the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh was ranked 3rd on quality of research.

These results confirm the exceptional performance of our staff, our excellent facilities, and our world-leading research.

Research excellence

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Universities are evaluated on the standard of their research, the environment in which it is conducted, and the positive impact it has on the world.

Building on the results of the previous REF in 2014, the School of Physics & Astronomy has been rated even more highly in this latest REF2021 assessment exercise.

Our success is a ringing endorsement of our ability to expand our research base, while at the same time enhancing quality, by attracting and hiring many of the very best researchers from around the world.

Impact and breadth

Our impact ranges from the design of base stations on Mars, through the use of materials research to inform more sustainable food production, to the design of the next generation of computers.

We look forward to continued growth and the exciting research ahead in fields as diverse as cosmology, condensed matter, extrasolar planets, elementary particles and nuclei, and the physics of life.