Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Goldsmiths is recognised as a leading university for research with nearly four-fifths of our outputs considered “world leading” or “internationally excellent”, according to REF 2021.

Primary page content

The official review of research at UK universities rated 79% of research undertaken at Goldsmiths as 4* or 3* – the highest levels possible.

An analysis of REF 2021 data by Times Higher Education places Goldsmiths at 51st in the UK for the quality of our research and just outside the top 10 of London institutions. 

For 4* “world leading" research we saw impressive rankings across our departments including:

  • Anthropology – 11th
  • Art, Design and Visual Cultures – 21st
  • Media, Communications and Cultural Studies – 4th
  • Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies – 20th
  • Sociology – 14th

In its first submission to the REF, the Institute of Management Studies came 63rd in terms of 4* ratings, out of 108 submitting organisations. 

Across the College there was an overall increase in the proportion of results considered 4*. REF 2021 also clearly demonstrates how our research impacts society and changes people's lives.

Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Research is central to who we are at Goldsmiths and these results recognise the expertise and commitment of our research community.

“From changing child social work policy to reforming the commercial gambling sector – the work of our researchers is having a direct impact on the lives of people in the UK and beyond.”

More about the Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework – or REF - is a peer review process set up to assess the quality of research across UK universities. 

It is undertaken every six to seven years by the four main UK research funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland. 

The REF aims to provide accountability for public investment in research and to support benchmarking within the HE sector and beyond.

The outcomes are also used to calculate the distribution of public funding for university research.

With findings published in May 2022 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, REF 2021 assessed the research of 157 institutions and was the 8th UK research assessment process since 1986.

Find out more on the REF website.

Explore Goldsmiths research

See our case study collection to learn more about the impact of Goldsmiths research in society.

Read more case studies.