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Research Excellence Framework

REF 2014 results

REF 2014 logo

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 shows that research undertaken at The Open University is both world-leading and has an impact in the real world.

The OU has demonstrated significant successes across its 18 submitted Units of Assessment.

Key successes for OU research are:

  • ranking in the top third of UK universities using the Times Higher Education Power Score
  • 72% was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*)
  • Seven Units of Assessment achieved 100% 4* or 3* ratings for the impact of their research
  • Four Units of Assessment achieved 100% 4* or 3* ratings for their research environment


Portrait by Thomas Hudson of composer Georg Friedrich Händel.

Top 10 for Music, Dance, Drama and Performing Arts

OU research in Music, Dance, Drama and Performing Arts is in the top 10 of UK universities for its quality (8th by Times Higher Education GPA ranking) and ranks 1st in the UK for its proportion of 4* and 3* research. It is also in the top 20% for impact.

A child reading a book.

OU research in Education ranked 2nd in the UK

OU research in Education ranks 2nd in the UK for the quality and quantity of its research using the Times Higher Education Power Score. OU research in education is spearheading the development of online open education to bring free learning resources to millions of people worldwide. The OU's environment for research in education was ranked joint first in the UK.

The First Actresses exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Top 20 for Art and Design

OU research in Art and Design is in the top 20 of UK universities for quality. It seeks to understand the past, inform current practice in art and design and inspire future creativity. Design research has inspired expertise in sustainable design and is leading to the development of smarter cities.