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Department of Pathology


Results show our research is as strong, inclusive and impactful as ever. 

This is the University’s most inclusive REF submission to date. Eligible researchers across all academic disciplines were assigned to one of 30 units of assessment (subject areas).

The overall quality profile awarded is a weighted combination of three criteria – outputs, their impact, and the environment that supports research.

The nine Departments and four interdisciplinary research institutes within the School of Biological Sciences submit returns to several Units of Assessment. The majority of our researchers are returned via the Biological Sciences unit of assessment (UoA5) or the Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences (UoA6), while other researchers form part of Clinical Medicine (UoA1) and Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience (UoA4), these latter two UoAs are led from the School of Clinical Medicine.

Across the units of assessment within the School of Biological Sciences, 93% of Cambridge’s submissions were rated as 4* ‘world-leading’ or 3* ‘internationally excellent', an increase from 82% in 2014.


Full results are available at Research Excellence Framework 2021.



Pathology's performance


Professor Geoffrey L Smith
Head of the Department of Pathology


There has been a terrific outcome from the Unit of Assessment 1 – Clinical Medicine – with the University of Cambridge being ranked first amongst UK universities in the percentage of its returns rated 4*. 
Cambridge UoA1 scored higher than in REF2014 in all subdomains with the exception of Environment which was a fraction lower. Although Cambridge had fewer returnable individuals (363) than Imperial 
(439) or Oxford (498), the overall message is we are smaller but higher scoring than these Higher Education Institutions. 

This is a tremendous achievement for all those in the Clinical School and the Principal Investigators within the Department of Pathology whose work formed part of the UoA1 return.

Warm congratulations to all staff, including our many PIs with their own research fellowships, for their excellent work during the last REF period, and warm thanks to Andrew McCaskie who led the assembly of the data and Richard Gilbertson who put together the return that gave such a good outcome.

We can look forward to the coming years with confidence and a real determination to maintain this excellent performance.




About the REF

The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland.

Among the data submitted by universities and other institutions are case studies that describe the impact of their research – where they have made a difference to society, health, the economy, for example.

For the purpose of the REF, each academic discipline is assigned to one of 30 out of a possible 34 units of assessment such as Clinical Medicine, Chemistry, Business and Management Studies and Philosophy. Each unit is judged by three criteria – outputs (such as publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact, and the environment that supports research.