A statement on REF 2021

By 19 May 2022August 21st, 2023No Comments

Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) continues to make a strong contribution to research in British universities. The results for the Research Exercise Framework show that universities benefit substantially from investment in theology and religious studies.

In 31 institutions over 500 researchers (full time equivalent) contributed to REF submissions. Even this increase of 22% over the last exercise in 2014 does not reflect the full range of our work: some researchers in TRS were submitted to other panels (including area studies, history and philosophy) because of the way their institutions organise themselves.

Unsurprisingly, given the strength of the discipline, in many institutions there is a high proportion of 4* work, judged to be world-leading. In 25% of institutions world-leading research was in fact the largest category of work submitted. That is an impressive achievement matched by very few other disciplines.

TRS continues to show outstanding results for the impact our research has, both in its reach and significance. In 35% of institutions, 4* work was the largest category of work submitted, and in some institutions all the work was judged to be at this highest level. This makes TRS one of the most obviously significant disciplines in the university in terms of its impact. Our public relevance is evident in the surprising range and quality of the case studies assessed.

To understand the world one needs to understand the role of religious practice and thought in every area of life, including literature, art, music, politics, economics, history, geography, and education. Researchers in the UK continue to lead the world in this work of interpreting and understanding religion. There is every reason for universities to invest boldly in our discipline.


Opinderjit Takhur – President

Nicholas Adams – Vice-President

Russell Re Manning – Secretary

19 May 2022