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UoA 23 Sociology

Ranked 3rd in the UK and with a GPA of 3.22, our research is innovative, interdisciplinary, and has positive impacts on people’s lives, such as protecting victims of domestic violence, promoting better treatment of employees with disabilities, and improving community policing. A distinctive feature of this unit is that 80% of our research has been deemed ‘outstanding’ for its impact in terms of its reach and significance.

Quality level 4 3 2 1 UC
Overall 37.0% 49.0% 13.0% 1.0% 0.0%
Outputs 17.7% 60.2% 20.3% 1.8% 0.0%
Impact 80.0% 20.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Environment 62.5% 37.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
About the REF

The School of Social Sciences is committed to the promotion of public and policy sociology, informed by extensive external collaboration and engagement.

In RAE 2008, the School of Social Sciences was recognised as first in the UK on the research power measure.

Since 2008, the School's vibrant research culture has continued to grow. It has built a sustainable mass of over 200 staff and has been awarded 236 research grants of £38M during the assessment period.

This level of funding frames and supports our successful and diverse publication, impact, and engagement activities. Since 2008, we have:

  • further developed our methodological expertise - with funding from ESRC and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales we established WISERD (Welsh Institute for Social and Economic Research Data and Method), building on the methodological innovations of QUALITI (an ESRC Research Methods Node)
  • enhanced graduate training provision and the consolidation of a Graduate School through the award of the ESRC Wales DTC led by the School
  • enhanced research collaborations with scientists, clinical practitioners, the police and organisations such as the Office of National Statistics.

Looking to the future, we will be expanding our methodological expertise, including collaborative work on social media and big data, investing to build upon existing strengths in crime, security and justice, and developing new centres of excellence in administrative data and children's social care.

Case studies

Policewoman in the community

Improving community policing

Pioneering research by the Universities' Police Science Institute (UPSI) has made police more effective at understanding and responding to crime and disorder.

Photo taken by Flickr user epsos.

Improving control over illicit money flows and recovering the proceeds of crime

Research by Professor Mike Levi provides one of the first rigorous empirical analyses of the scale of financial crime.

Vulnerable woman sitting alone

Improving the response to victims of violence

Our research has contributed to significant changes in the services afforded to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Research themes



Advances in Research Methodology

Expanding social science research capacity and sharing advances in research methods.

Scientific Knowledge, Technology and Risk

Researching the relation between medicine and science, and criticism over increasingly bio-medicalised Western societies.

Crime, Security and Justice

Addressing subjects such as domestic violence against women, courts and access to justice, cybercrimes and security, the organisation of serious crimes and youth justice and family law.

Culture, Identity and Transformation

Bringing together groups from the fields of anthropology, psychology, sociology, education, social philosophy, cultural studies, science and technology studies, feminism and political theory.

Health, Wellbeing and Social Care

Focusing on social action, policy dialogue, the dynamic nature of health and wellbeing, and social justice.

Centres and groups

Centre Detail
Welsh Institute for Social and Economic Research Data and Method (WISERD) Provides a model of all-Wales Higher Education Institution collaboration.WISERD has collated and analysed existing socio-economic data, developed new qualitative and quantitative methodological tools, and provided new data sets on Wales at national and local levels.
Centre for the development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHER) Brings together leading experts from a range of disciplines to tackle public health issues. The Centre engages strongly with policy, practice and public user communities as our stakeholders, to translate the research results into practical outcomes.
Collaborative Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS) Brings together social, computer, political, health, statistical and mathematical scientists to study the methodological, theoretical, empirical and technical dimensions of social media data in social and policy contexts.
Centre for Ethical and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagene) Brings together ethics and social science approaches to the analysis of biomedical science.
Cardiff Ethnography Group Focuses on issues around ethnography and cultural analysis concerned with the interpretive understanding of meaning, symbols and language.
Seafarers' International Research Centre The only international research facility of its kind which has built up unparalleled research on seafarers, focusing on issues of occupational health and safety.
Universities' Police Science Institute (UPSI) Developing a research evidence base for the art, craft and science of policing. The institute's work ranges from 'problem-finding' to 'problem-solving' across the full spectrum of policing.
Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) Establishes research and policy links at a local, national and international level. Members work closely with the Welsh Government, local authorities and charities as well as engaging with both national Government and a number of European agencies.
Sustainable Places Research Institute Provides a new basis for sustainability science. Sustainable living in sustainable places is examined by integrating established methodologies from the natural, physical and social sciences, enabling a new understanding of the interrelations between ecology, society and economy.
Cardiff University Ageing Science and Older People Network (CASciOPe) Focusing on the research of older people, the basic biology of ageing and diseases associated with later life, together with an exploration of their social, cultural and ethical implication.
Children's Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)CASCADE is concerned with all aspects of community-based responses to social need in children and families, including family support services, children in need services, child protection, looked after children and adoption.
Administrative Data Research Centre Wales (ADRC)ADRC Wales provides support and facilities for researchers to carry out analysis using administrative data. The centre has access facilities based at both Cardiff and Swansea Universities.
Q-StepThe Q-Step Centre builds upon the significant amount of quantitative pedagogical development achieved in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University in the past two years.

Overall ranking

Pos. Institution GPA
1 University of York 3.27
2 University of Manchester 3.26
3 Cardiff University 3.22
4 University of Lancaster 3.21
5 University of Oxford 3.19
6 University of Edinburgh 3.16
7 University of Essex 3.14
8 London School of Economics and Political Science 3.12
9 University of Bristol 3.07
10 King's College London 3.01

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