REF 2014: World-leading research reaches new heights at LJMU

Image of Tom Reilly Building

The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), announced today, demonstrate the world-leading quality of research conducted in UK universities. For the first time in an exercise of this kind, the REF also highlights the wide-ranging and significant benefits that UK research brings to the economy and society.

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences was ranked world-leading and second in the UK for its research into a number of areas; from tackling unhealthy lifestyles and obesity in children by adapting play areas and schools, working with Premiership football clubs, locally and across the country for performance analysis and injury prevention strategies, through to cardiac screening and cardiovascular health of athletes.

In addition to doubling the amount of research rated as world-leading in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, LJMU has more than doubled the volume of activity rated internationally excellent or above.  Every Unit of Assessment (UoA) submitted by the University was rated as at least 45% internationally excellent or better.

Other areas of particular excellence included Astrophysics for the impact of the National Schools’ Observatory on supporting the learning of UK school children, and English for the impact of writing in prisons and research into the history of everyday life.

The University is now in the top half of the overall research league table, placed 61 out of 128 universities who submitted more than one UoA in the proportion of research that is world-leading or internationally excellent and is second only to Cardiff in its peer group, the University Alliance, making it the best in England for research under this group of global leading universities.

LJMU has also moved up 19 places in research quality ranking, from 81st in the UK in RAE 2008 to 62nd for REF 2014 (THES).

LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill said:

“Liverpool John Moores University is a University proud of its heritage and values. It is an international beacon for excellence in education providing exceptional student experiences with life-changing opportunities for its students and staff. The outcomes of this independent assessment of research undertaken across the UK by the government demonstrates that LJMU is conducting internationally recognised and world leading research in a diverse set of disciplines and is one of the leading institutions redefining the role of a university in the 21st Century.  Our research and scholarship motivates and inspires our students and staff and, in additional to adding to the base of knowledge, supports businesses and contributes to wealth creation for the City of Liverpool and nationally."

LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Scholarship, Research and Knowledge Transfer Professor Robin Leatherbarrow said:

“The result for the University is exceptional. LJMU is fast realising our ambition to become the leading modern civic university in the UK, with research and scholarship fully embedded within our activities, informing our curriculum and having a direct impact upon the student experience.  These results will now enable us to build our reputation based on evidence and performance and to state with confidence that our students not only have the highest quality teaching but that their learning experience is informed by relevant, credible and world-leading research.”

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 key LJMU results

• LJMU demonstrates World-leading research in 77% of submitted disciplines (ie. 13 out of 17 UoAs have 4* research)
• On the basis of the proportion of World-leading and internationally excellent (4*+3*) research, LJMU is ranked 61st of the 128 UK universities that submitted more than a single UoA
• LJMU research impact is rated as internationally excellent in all subject areas
• All 17 UoAs have internationally excellent research and 96% of LJMU research submitted to REF 2014 is of international quality or better
• LJMU has almost doubled the proportion of activity rated internationally excellent or above (34% in RAE2008 to 66% in REF2014)
• 72% of the institution’s research impact activity is rated as internationally excellent or world-leading
• Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism achieved 97% of research activity 3* & 4* overall
• The University more than doubled the volume of 4* (world-leading) activity (from 8% in RAE2008 to 18% in REF2014) .

The REF was undertaken by the four higher education funding bodies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. REF 2014 was managed by a team based at HEFCE on behalf of the funding bodies.  It replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), last conducted in 2008.

For further information, see 


Liverpool Telescope team scoop Institute of Physics award


Faculty of Engineering and Technology experts share insights with aspiring students


Contact Us

Get in touch with the Press Office on 0151 231 3369 or