Social Sciences


Research Excellence Framework & Research Assessment Exercise

The Department of Social Sciences is a large inter-disciplinary department comprising sociology, social policy, criminology, social psychology and communication and media studies. We pride ourselves on the high quality of our research and the ways in which that research feeds directly into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching inspiring a new generation of social scientists. We operate on egalitarian principles with the expectation that all staff engage in research and teaching as well as contributing to the smooth running of the Department.

Since 1986 the allocation of public research funds for universities has been established by periodic peer assessment of the quality of research undertaken. The higher the quality, the more funding is allocated on a subject-by-subject basis. Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) took place in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2001, and 2008. RAEs were replaced in 2014 by the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The nature of the assessment exercises has evolved over time. In 2014, as well as the quality of publications and research environment, the ‘impact’ of our research (meaning the effects of our research beyond academia) was assessed.

The results of the research assessments consistently place the Department of Social Sciences as one of the best social sciences departments in the UK over the last 30 years and thus as a world-leading department (the results of the 1986 and 1989 RAEs are not comparable or publicly available and so are not included here). An important indicator of the strength and depth of research culture in departments is the percentage of staff submitted for the research exercises. Some departments choose to submit only a proportion of eligible staff in order to receive a higher grade, so-called ‘game-playing’. The Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough has always submitted all eligible staff.


Panel/Unit of Assessment


Number of staff submitted

National ranking


Communication, Cultural and Media Studies

GPA 3.35


2 (Research Intensity = GPA x proportion of eligible staff submitted)


Social Work and Social Policy

GPA 2.94


8 (Research Intensity = GPA x proportion of eligible staff submitted)



Grade Point Average (GPA) 2.4


5 (Research Power = GPA x number submitted



5*A (highest possible score)










5A (highest possible score)



The full results are for 2014 available here: Results from 1992 are also publicly available:

Research Excellence Framework 2014

In 2014 the Department made submissions in two units of assessment reflecting the breadth, depth, and interdisciplinary nature of our research and teaching.

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies

The results of the evaluation show that Loughborough is home to the most world leading and internationally excellent research in the field in the UK, being ranked 1st for the ‘originality, significance and rigour’ of its research publications (with 83% rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’). Our submission to this panel included 35 full and part time academic staff, representing the equivalent of 31 full time staff and making it the second largest in the UK.

Our submission overall was ranked 2nd in the UK for research in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, reflecting our excellent performance on other aspects of the research evaluation. For example, 90% of our ‘research impact’ was rated world-leading or internationally excellent (3* or 4*), a product of our ongoing engagement with a wide range of public and third sector bodies, such as the BBC Trust, the college of mediators, the NSPCC, Electoral Commission, UK Drug Policy Commission and Department of Health. The ‘research environment’ of the department was also very highly rated, with 100% of our research environment deemed world-leading or internationally excellent (3* or 4*) (90% being world-leading).

Social Work and Social Policy

100% of our ‘research impact’ in Social Work and Social Policy was rated world-leading or internationally excellent (3* or 4*), with 90% being deemed world-leading. This pioneering work on (a) improving outcomes of services for children in need including those in care and placed for adoption and (b)  regularly reporting on how much income households need to afford an acceptable standard of living, achieved the third highest impact score in the UK. Overall, 68% of our social policy research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent (3* or 4*), with 60% of our research outputs assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (3* or 4*). 63% of our research environment was rated internationally excellent (3*).