REF 2021: History’s Research Environment

Posted on: 19 May 2022 by Anna Bocking-Welch in 2022 posts

We had a 24% increase in 4* research across our outputs, impact, and environment since the last REF. Over the coming month we’ll be celebrating our achievements during the 2013-2020 REF Cycle and talking about what’s next for History at Liverpool in a series of blog posts. This post talks about our research environment and funding successes.

In the 2021 REF exercise 100% of our research was classified as 4* and 3* for Research Environment, placing us 15th in the Russell Group, 2nd in the North-West and 21st overall in this area (out of 81 History units overall). Our research centres and research clusters have supported exciting interdisciplinary collaborations, successful funding bids, and postgraduate studentships. Staff in our Political Histories and Cultures cluster are part of multi-institutional collaborative AHRC grants on ‘Petitioning and People Power’ (Dr Bocking-Welch) and Eighteenth-Century Political Participation and Electoral Culture’ (Professor Elaine Chalus). The Knowledge, Texts and Archives cluster is host to the AHRC funded project ‘Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth Century Atlantic’ which Professor Mark Towsey leads with Co-Investigators and impact partners in the UK, USA and Australia. Eighteenth-Century Worlds, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, and the Centre for Archive Studies secured AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards and ESCR-funded CASE Studentships.  

The total value of external funding we won quadrupled since the last REF cycle. Grants and awards have been won by researchers at all career stages, from the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships held by Dr Michael Robinson and Dr Junqing Wu to the large collaborative grants headed by Professor Sally Sheard and Professor Mark Towsey. External grant income has enabled us to pursue collaborative research which engages with societal challenges ranging from peace and reconciliation to library provision, health care and climate change.  We collaborate on grants with academics and public partners in the UK, USA, Australia, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, and India and across disciplinary boundaries, working alongside epidemiologists, public health experts, geographers, anthropologists and architects. For example Dr Andrew Redden is collaborating with colleagues in Public Health to understand Chronic Kidney Disease in Mexico, while Dr Alex Buchanan is a co-investigator and mentor for a digital humanities project on English medieval vaults with colleagues from the Architecture School.   

What’s next? Since the start of the new REF cycle we have broadened our research expertise by welcoming two new Lecturers in Black British History, Dr Ama Biney and Dr Jessica White, significantly increasing our research and teaching capacity in this vitally important area. Our grant income increased dramatically towards the end of the last REF cycle and supports ongoing projects including Professor Diana Jeater’s work on peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe (funded by the British Academy) and Dr Robin Whelan’s AHRC Fellowship on the relationship between Christianity and the state in Late Antiquity. We have also launched exciting new funded projects since the REF census end date including Dr Chris Pearson’s Wellcome Trust funded project on street dogs and rabies in India and Dr Will Ashworth’s Co-Investigator role on the AHRC-funded Congruence Engine project, part of the flagship Towards a National Collection programme.  

Look out for our next posts on Making a Difference, History Publications, and Supporting the Next Generation of Researchers.