Arts and Humanities make a huge impact in REF results


Research in the Arts and Humanities at the Open University is amongst the best in the UK according to the new Research Assessment Framework (REF) result, published on 18th December 2014.

An impressive 72% of the University’s research scored as 3 star or 4 star– the highest available, indicating that the research is world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of quality, impact and environment.

While the OU has been ranked 54th (out of 83 UK higher education institutions) for its research in the Times Higher Educations’ rankings, we are ranked:

  • 6th overall, 4th for outputs, and 11th for impact for our Music research;
  • 8th for impact in our History research;
  • 13th for impact in our Classics research;
  • 16th for our outputs in Religious Studies;
  • 9th for our outputs and 11th overall for our Art History research.
  • Professor Tim Blackman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Scholarship and Quality) said “These outstanding results show that we are leading the field among universities with widening access missions and that the quality of our research has increased significantly over the last six years. The results demonstrate a vote of confidence from our peers as we go forward as a broad-based research university.”

    Highlights of our include:

  • Research by Professor Donald Burrows on performing and contextualising the music of George Frideric Handel has provided new editions of eighteenth-century music.
  • Research into the history of brass instruments by Professor Trevor Herbert has not only influenced professional and amateur performers, but has contributed to work in the heritage industry as well as print and broadcast media.
  • A high priority on collaborations with cultural institutions, exemplified in the strategic development of the gallery partnerships that form the core of the Open Arts Archive. The Archive provides open access to events and research projects co-organised and/or produced with 20 galleries and museums across the UK, and is accessed by a global audience in 105 countries.
  • Public debate around the importance of feminine portraiture in the development of 18th century theatrical culture was stimulated by OU Professor of Art History Gill Perry through an extensive public engagement programme, including a major curated exhibition with the National Portrait Gallery.
  • The OU’s Digital Classics research group is changing the way that information about the ancient world is found and can be used. Its Pelagios project has developed an infrastructure through which archaeological, literary or visual online material about the ancient world can be brought together, empowering professionals and the general enthusiast to discover the cities of antiquity and explore the rich interconnections between them. The open-data service technology championed by Pelagios is now the de facto international standard for open linked geospatial data concerning the ancient world.
  • The Open University is an international centre for Classical Receptions, a field of research which analyses changing and creative responses to classical texts in a range of fields of modern culture. This is exemplified in the work of Professor Helen King which investigates uses of the ancient world in medicine from the sixteenth century to the present day. She works with modern medical practitioners, using insights from the past to help them better understand their patients’ needs, and how they can help patients come to terms with their illnesses. Dr Laura Swift has been working with theatre company Potential Difference to explore fragments of ancient plays in order to consider the theme of fragmentation in modern experiences of life, communication, and how we relate to the past.
  • Find out more about our REF results and our research at

    For our History research –

    For our English research –

    For our Classics research –

    For our Philosophy research –

    For our Religious Studies research –

    For our Art History research –

    For out Music research –

    About ouartsfaculty

    The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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