Press release

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Published on 12 May 2022

The University of Dundee has been confirmed as one of the UK’s leading research centres for biological sciences, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021)

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Dundee comes out as the top University in the UK for Biological Sciences, according to Times Higher Education’s rankings.

Professor John Rowan, Vice-Principal of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Wider Impact, said, “This is an outstanding performance by our School of Life Sciences and again confirms our status as an international powerhouse for biological sciences research.

“This will support our efforts to build on Dundee’s successes in research excellence, commercialisation and the positive impact of this work on health and the economy.

“We are developing drug candidates to tackle major global diseases such as malaria, and are leading in understanding more about diseases such as Parkinson’s and cancer. Companies such as Exscientia  and Amphista Therapeutics have recently `spun out’ from our world-leading research facilities to great success in the application of Artificial Intelligence and new generation therapeutics to drug discovery.

“This follows being ranked among the very best universities in the UK at commercialising research, in the University Spinout Report 2021 delivered by GovGrant. We will continue to pursue that level of excellence for the good of all.”

Dundee also recorded strong performances in our clinical-related research, in the areas of clinical medicine and allied health professions (a joint submission between Dentistry and Health Sciences), underlining our capacity to deliver research outputs and impact that transforms lives locally and globally.

84 per cent of our research assessed as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

Professor Rowan said, “REF is carried out every five-to-seven years and to see how we have maintained a very prominent position in biological sciences and our clinical-related research is hugely encouraging in what is a very competitive climate across the UK.

“Our School of Art & Design is the highest graded art school in Scotland and we also see encouraging strengthening in our School of Business, which has made tremendous strides in recent years also in terms of student recruitment, being one of the fastest growing in the UK.”

To find out more about our submissions, and how our research is transforming lives, visit

The REF provides a robust and thorough assessment of the quality of universities’ research in all disciplines, providing accountability for public investment in research and demonstrating the benefits of that investment.

In total, 157 UK universities participated, submitting over 76,000 academic staff. Submissions included research outputs, examples of the wider benefits of research and evidence about the research environment. This material was assessed by a series of expert panels comprising UK and international researchers, external users of research and experts in interdisciplinary research.

The assessment provides rich information on the strengths of UK university research that will be helpful for businesses and other users of research to identify potential partners.

The REF assessment is carried out every seven years. Completion of the 2021 REF was delayed until now by the pandemic.

The results of the REF are available at from 00:01 on Thursday 12 May 2022.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category REF 2021