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UoA 9 Physics

Our GPA score of 3.30 and ranking of 6th in the UK confirms the international quality and impact of our work. This rise of 28 places reflects our strategy to support fundamental science. A distinctive feature of this unit is that 63% of our research has been deemed ‘outstanding’ for its impact in terms of its reach and significance. We’re also ranked top amongst UK Physics departments for the proportion of our overall submissions deemed ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’.

Quality level 4 3 2 1 UC
Overall 31.0% 68.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Outputs 21.6% 77.0% 1.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Impact 63.3% 36.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment 30.0% 70.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
About the REF

Research in the School of Physics and Astronomy is organised into four groups: Condensed Matter and Photonics; Gravitational Physics; Astronomy, and Astronomy Instrumentation.

The School's strategy is focused on ensuring world-class performance in each of the four research groupings, evidenced by outputs in major, high-impact journals, strong and diverse research income and collaboration with major international centres of excellence.

Since RAE 2008, the School has developed a broader base of strength, particularly in the area of experimental physics, where EPSRC grants have increased from £1.8M to £4.8M. 

Diversification of research income, including substantial European Union funding for both Astronomy and Condensed Matter research, has seen total grant awards over the period rise to £23.3M. This funding has been supported by substantial investment in research infrastructure, including the creation of a state-of-the-art low energy electron microscopy suite and facilities to grow and characterise diamond, including nanodiamonds.

Research staff are actively involved in numerous major international collaborations, including the Cardiff-led SPIRE instrument consortium for the Herschel satellite and the LIGO science collaboration seeking to detect gravitational waves.

Case studies

Herschel space observatory iamge

Seeing the science in space

Bringing stories from the Hershel Space Observatory to UK school children, teachers and international media.

Research groups

Group Details
Condensed Matter and Photonics This is a new grouping, led by Dr Phil Buckle, brings together and exploits synergies between the previously separate Photons and Matter and Nanophysics areas along with activities in Biophysics and THz optics.
Gravitational Physics Led by Professor Sathyaprakash, studies sources of gravitational waves and the development of algorithms for their detection. It is among the largest groups within the worldwide LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and British-German GEO 600 collaborations.
Astronomy Led by Professor Eales this comprises two sub-groups: The Galaxies sub-group works on galaxy formation and evolution from high-redshift to the local Universe and the life cycle of dust and heavy elements, using radio to X-ray observations. The Star Formation sub-group uses major observatories to study prestellar and young stellar objects, and pursues a theoretical programme on star formation, protostellar disks, and computational radiative transfer.
Astronomy Instrumentation Led by Professor Gear, the AIG builds and exploits FIR-millimetre instrumentation for ground-based, balloon-borne and space-borne observatories, and for CMB studies, and is recognised by the international astronomy community as one of the world-leading groups in this area. It also works with an in-house spin-out company, QMC Instruments Ltd, to commercialise new technologies that the group develops for astronomy, but which have other applications.

Overall ranking

Pos. Institution GPA
1University of Strathclyde3.35
2University of Oxford3.34
3University of St Andrews3.33
3University of Edinburgh3.33
3University of Nottingham3.33
6Cardiff University3.30
7University of Cambridge3.29
7University of Manchester3.29
9University of Durham3.27
10Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine3.26

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