Results Announced for Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is run by the four funding bodies in the UK.

Today, the UK funding bodies have published the results of the UK’s most recent national research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Research from the Department of Sociology was submitted to Unit of Assessment 21 (Sociology) along with research from the Oxford Internet Institute, Nuffield College and others. 

In Unit of Assessment 21 (Sociology), 63% of Oxford’s submission was judged to be 4*. 4* is the highest score available, indicating research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour. This result is the highest overall percentage of research judged to be 4* in the UK within the unit.

Professor Federico Varese, Head of the Department of Sociology, comments:

“We are delighted with the REF 2021 results for Oxford’s submission to UoA 21. The results highlight the world-leading research, and its impact, conducted by sociology scholars at the University of Oxford.

I must thank everyone who contributed to the submission, in particular the previous Head of Department, Professor Christiaan Monden, who led our submission with such dedication, along with Professor Man-Yee Kan and our wonderful research support team.”

Today’s results reflect the world-leading research conducted by sociologists at the University of Oxford, which has been shown to translate to real-world change at national and international levels. Highlights of the research impact case studies submitted in the unit include: 

•    Research into social inequalities, undertaken by the Centre for Social Investigation based in Nuffield College. 

•    COVID-19-related research, conducted by the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science.

•    Research on labour mediated by online platforms, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute.

•    Research into the rise of computational propaganda, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Further information about the University of Oxford’s REF 2021 results can be found on the central University website.

Further details about REF 2021 are available at

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