Where research drives us forward

UEA research is making real-world impact.

That’s why 91% 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

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of academic research in UK universities.

UEA research is ranked 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 10 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 our video.

Video: Life changing research by UEA


What is the REF?

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 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.

See our REF2021 results

Life changing work from UEA

Explore more of our REF2021 results

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.

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