The University of Portsmouth has been ranked the top modern university in the country for Area Studies.
REF 2021 confirms the world-leading status of our research in Area Studies. We are the best modern university for research quality and research power, according to Times Higher Education. We have improved on our excellent performance in REF 2014, and consolidated our position as a top-tier university for Area Studies research. We are proud that REF has commended our vibrant community of researchers, and the rich diversity and fresh perspectives offered by our research.
This impressive result is particularly gratifying given the big increase in the size of our submission, which is the second largest in the University. Our REF 2021 entry contains 78 researchers, almost double the number of staff submitted in 2014. We also made considerable progress in improving our gender balance, with women now comprising 50% of our entry.
We focus on research that is relevant to societal needs and empowers marginalised and vulnerable groups. The results reveal that our research is making a substantial difference to people in the wider world, with 100% of our impact being judged as having outstanding or very considerable reach and significance. This demonstrates that we excel in civic engagement, on a local and global scale.
Our strategy to increase and diversify our income streams has been successful. We boosted our research and innovation income by 44% between 2014 and 2020, exceeding our target of 25%. Area Studies researchers secured income awards from 20 different funding bodies.
Our REF entry underlined that postgraduate research students are the centrepiece of our research environment. We are proud that the ESRC awarded us the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership in recognition of our commitment to the student experience, along with our partners at the University of Southampton and the University of Brighton. Portsmouth is the only university in the partnership with an Area Studies pathway.
Results in REF 2021
- 73.9% of our research outputs were judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.
- 100% of our impact was rated as having outstanding or very considerable reach and significance.
- 100% of our research environment was judged as having the vitality and sustainability to produce world-leading or internationally excellent research.
Area Studies researchers are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR). CEISR’s research groups contain academics from a mix of disciplines, which encourages the cross-fertilisation of research between African Studies, Gender Studies, History, International Relations, Politics, Languages, Sociology and Journalism and Media Studies, among other areas of study.
CEISR’s significant contribution to interdisciplinarity was recognised in a British Academy report Crossing Paths: Interdisciplinarity Institutions, Careers, Education and Applications (2016). CEISR was one of seven research centres in the UK identified as exhibiting a track record in interdisciplinary work. The report praised CEISR for nurturing a vibrant and expansive interdisciplinary research culture that informs both teaching and research.
Infrastructure and facilities
Research support is provided by the Humanities and Social Science Research and Innovation Office (HSSRIO), led by the Faculty’s Research and Innovation Manager. HSSRIO works with counterparts in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries to consolidate knowledge, experience and expertise on funding bodies and the research funding environment, and organise a well-attended programme of interdisciplinary workshops (led by senior Area Studies staff) on research funding and related topics.
Continuing our longstanding policy of developing our intellectual infrastructure, CEISR has benefitted from substantial library investments over the REF period, totalling £733,000. This includes the permanent acquisition of major UK, European, North American and Chinese newspaper archives, and thematic resource collections ranging from the holdings of the Naval Records Society to visual cultures of the First World War and the history of film censorship in 20th-century USA. The resources of the Churchill Archive are complemented by a collection on London Low Life from the 18th to the 20th Centuries. New access to materials such as the Calendars of State Papers and the Mass Observation Archive has been complemented by a selection of several extensive collections on women’s and gender history and the history of sexuality, and on African-American histories.