Our world-leading research

UEA research is making real-world impact. That’s why 91 per cent of UEA research has been rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). We’re also in the UK top 20 for research quality*.

UEA is a globally significant centre of research which drives global change. We bring fresh thinking to the major challenges facing society, helping to create a better future for all.

*Times Higher Education REF2021 Analysis

Uncovering the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Mary Rose 



UEA researchers are embarking on a major historical research project to explore the significance of the Gloucester, a 17th-century warship that sank off the Norfolk coast 340 years ago while carrying the future King James II. 

The project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Prof Claire Jowitt, Associate Dean for Research in UEA’s highly-regarded Faculty of Arts & Humanities, which is rated in the UK top 5 for research quality following the publication of the REF2021 results. UEA’s School of History was also rated third in the UK by the Times Higher Education REF2021 rankings.

Prof Jowitt and Dr Ben Redding, Senior Research Associate in Maritime History, will write a cradle-to-grave history of the warship which assesses its contribution to naval history.

“There’s a lot we don’t know, a lot we need to uncover,” Prof Jowitt said. “The tension between the highest in the land and the ordinary lives is fascinating. But it’s not just the high politics, the monarchic shenanigans, and the luxury of the voyage. We’re interested in the wider historical context and concerned to tell all people's stories.”   

A new paper titled The Last Voyage of the Gloucester (1682): The Politics of a Royal Shipwreck by Prof Claire Jowitt offers a comprehensive academic analysis of the disaster and its political implications and legacies.    

The Gloucester sank in May 1982 after it ran aground off the North Norfolk coast. James survived, though 130-250 lost their lives. The wreck lay half-buried under the sand until two Norfolk brothers, Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, found the wreck site after a four-year search.

UEA is delighted to be the academic partner and co-curator for a prominent exhibition, The Last Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Royal Shipwreck 1682, which will open at Norwich Castle Museums & Art Gallery in February 2023.

Alongside UEA, Norfolk Museums Service and the Barnwell brothers, foundational partners in the project are the Alan Boswell Group, the Ministry of Defence, the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, York Archaeology, the Leverhulme Trust and Maritime Archaeology Trust. The project is also being generously supported by Birketts LLP.

© Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks

Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework is the system for assessing the quality of academic research in UK universities. The results of REF2021 classed 91 per cent of UEA research as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

UEA research is also in the top five* for:

  • Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Science
  • Anthropology and Development Studies
  • History
  • Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
  • Social Work and Social Policy
  • Area Studies

*Times Higher Education REF2021 Analysis

UEA research also made the UK top 20* in ten other subjects:   

  • Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory  
  • Business and Management Studies   
  • Politics and International Studies    
  • Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience   
  • Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care   
  • Economics and Econometrics   
  • Communications, Cultural and Media Studies    
  • Biological Sciences   
  • English Language and Literature  
  • Clinical Medicine

*Times Higher Education REF2021 Analysis

REF2021 has been an enormous, collaborative effort and we are grateful to the hundreds of academic and support staff involved. We’re incredibly proud of our REF2021 submission. See our groundbreaking research for yourself in this video.  


What is the REF?

The REF is a process of expert review which assesses the research output, quality and impact of higher education institutions across the spectrum of academic subjects. There is an expert review panel for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment. These panels classify research as: world-leading, internationally excellent, internationally significant or nationally significant. The results of the REF inform the allocation of about £2 billion of public research funding to higher education institutions. UEA’s submission to REF2021 included 1,836 outputs from 793 researchers, along with 73 impact case studies and 23 environment statements.

Explore more of our REF2021 impact case study submissions here:

Our Research Story

Governments, businesses, organisations and individuals rely on our research to help them understand and interpret the world. UEA research is the sixth most highly cited in the UK*. Our work informs global and national policy, changes behaviour, and drives economic growth. UEA research does not happen in isolation, but in collaboration with local, national and international academic and industry partners. Our civic leadership is rooted in the needs of local communities and drives our responsibility to grow economic and social wellbeing to serve the needs of our region. We are a leading member of Norwich Research Park – one of Europe’s biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science – and a founding member of the Aurora network of European universities.

While UEA boasts world-leading research from the arts and sciences to social sciences and health, we have an enduring culture of working beyond subject and geographical boundaries. Our two new strategic research themes, ClimateUEA and CreativeUEA, bring together academics from across disciplines to explore new ideas, to develop new research projects and to work on solutions to key challenges. We think without borders.

Bring your research to life

UEA is an excellent place to further your academic studies. We are a dual-intensive university, with an inspiring and engaging research community. You’ll benefit from our partnerships with leading institutions across the Norwich Research Park and beyond. We offer a range of PhD opportunities, research studentships and professional doctorates.

Explore our postgraduate opportunities


Our strategic themes

We’ve developed strategic research themes that highlight the interdisciplinary approach we take to understanding the world around us and solving some of our greatest challenges.

ClimateUEA tells our collective climate story during this critical decade for our planet. We've led the way in climate research for 50 years. Our Climatic Research Unit and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research have both broken new ground in understanding the global climate system and its impact on society. Our world-leading experts tackle the unprecedented environmental and social challenges caused by climate change. We collaborate and innovate to supply the vital research, solutions and insight needed to understand and minimise humankind’s impact on Earth’s climate and ecosystems.

CreativeUEA was born out of our belief that creativity is key to all academic research. It builds on UEA's longstanding history of creativity and innovation - across the arts, sciences, social sciences and enterprise - to explore new areas of interdisciplinary research, learning, action and outreach. We collaborate with regional, national and international partners to explore the links between creativity, enterprise and innovation. We work to generate and develop innovative projects to create a better future for all.

Explore our strategic themes here:



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