International Relations Research Excellence

12 May 2022

Research at Scotland’s oldest university amongst the highest quality in the country.

Over 83% of research carried out by the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews is world-leading or internationally excellent, according to the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) published today (Thursday 12 May).

The REF – a detailed analysis of the research strengths of all UK universities – found that St Andrews excelled in a number of key research areas. Research environment in the School of International Relations was ranked in the top ten in the UK according to REF 2021 data.

Two-thirds of research in the School of International Relations assessed to have impact, with 77 per cent of outputs are internationally recognised

REF found that the overall quality of research at St Andrews had increased by 5.7 % since the last assessment exercise in 2014.

St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE said: “The overall quality of our research has increased significantly since the last REF in 2014, we have cause to celebrate the achievements of several of our Schools whose research is rated amongst the best in the UK, and the fact that over 88% of the research we produce in this small corner of Fife has been held to be world-leading or internationally excellent is a remarkable achievement.”

Although REF itself explicitly does not rank universities according to research strengths, the metrics it produces are widely used in the higher education sector and in the media to benchmark research performance.

According to these figures, using the method of Grade Point Average (GPA), St Andrews was ranked 3rd in Scotland and 28th in the UK, one of six Scottish universities ranked amongst the top 50 research institutions in the UK.

Research at the School of International Relations which REF judged to be world-leading included:

  • Enhancing Military Preparedness in Democracies. How to modernise a military, research highlights issues with military preparedness and the vast imbalance in terms of global military spending.
  • The Syrian War: Helping Governments and International Organizations to Understand and Mitigate the Conflict
  • Commemorating the Great War


Christine Tudhope
Deputy Head of Communications

Communications Office
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