The School of Languages, Cultures and Societies delivers world-leading, impactful research

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 has recognised 79% of the overall research activity submitted across the School as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

64% of our impact case studies were rated ‘world-leading’ (4*). The REF is the system for assessing the quality and impact of research in UK higher education institutions along with the environment that supports this research.  

Our goal in the School is to nurture a strong culture of shared endeavour which supports excellence in both research and teaching. It's great to see the collective strength of our research recognised by the REF. Our success also shows the significant societal impact which research in languages, cultures and societies can have nationally and globally.

Emma Cayley, Head of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Research quality and impact 

Researchers in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies undertake collaborative world-leading and world-changing research in an international context. The REF 2021 results recognise that our researchers, in partnership with their collaborators, are expanding the frontiers of knowledge and achieving a real-world impact.  

For the REF 2021 submission, research and impact from all disciplines within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies was assessed by Unit of Assessment (UoA) 26, Modern Languages and Linguistics. This includes Translation Studies, Classics, Area Studies and Film Studies. 

Key results included:  

  • 78% of the research outputs (publications) submitted by the School were rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. 
  • 78% of the School’s submitted impact case studies were rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, with 64% as ‘world-leading’. 
  • 85% of the School’s research environment was recognised as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. 

The School of Languages, Cultures and Societies was the fourth largest submission to the Modern Languages and Linguistics UoA, and we are particularly proud of our results in that context. This is recognized in the Times Higher Education research power index – a calculation which relates research performance to number of staff which they produce as part of their rankings data. In these rankings we are fourth in terms of research power from our Unit of Assessment (UoA). Our performance is a reflection of the critical mass of excellent researchers working within our School. 

Researchers in Languages, Cultures and Societies also collaborate with a wide range of external partners to translate their research into real-world solutions. Our researchers have worked with partners in the UK and internationally across a range of sectors and disciplines. Key objectives have included empowering marginalised communities, amplifying unheard voices to raise awareness and change attitudes, and working with educational practitioners to improve outcomes for children. 

Our REF 2021 Impact Case Studies ranged from work on Chinese literature in publishing and the UK school curriculum, to activity working to save and revitalise Southern Arabian languages. 

Research environment 

Languages, Cultures and Societies is a multidisciplinary School with a wide range of specialisms in languages, cultures and societies from across the world, so our research is inherently interdisciplinary, collaborative and international. These results reflect our strategy of developing large, collaborative projects which showcase our international and interdisciplinary reach. 

We support researchers at all career stages, using the expertise within the School to develop early career colleagues and internal seedcorn funding to help get new projects off the ground. Postgraduate researchers are also crucial members of the School’s research community, playing an active role within our Research Centres, organising conferences and often prompting cross-disciplinary connections through co-supervision arrangements. 

We look forward to building on our successes as we continue to foster a strong and supportive research culture, focused on enabling our researchers to respond to important global challenges and effect change worldwide.

Penny Goodman, Director of Research and Innovation for Languages, Cultures and Societies

Further information  

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View the University of Leeds results for all units of assessment