School of Mathematics delivers world-leading research and impact

The REF 2021 results have recognised that 98% of research activity in the Mathematics Unit of Assessment at the University of Leeds is rated as either "world-leading" or "internationally excellent".

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality and impact of research in UK higher education institutions along with the environment that supports this research.  

As a collaborative School working across a variety of disciplines, it is incredibly encouraging to see that the breadth and depth of our research has been recognised by a panel of experts. I would like to thank our researchers and professional services staff for all of their outstanding work.

Professor Kurt Langfeld, Head of School

View the University of Leeds REF 2021 results for all units of assessment.

Research quality and impact 

Researchers in the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds undertake a significant amount of world-leading and world-changing research. The REF 2021 results again demonstrate that University of Leeds researchers, along with their collaborators, are expanding the frontiers of knowledge and achieving a real-world impact.  

For the REF 2021 submission, research and impact from the University’s schools and institutes was assessed by disciplinary units, known as Units of Assessment (UoAs). Research and impact in the School of Mathematics was primarily submitted to the Mathematics UoA. 

Notable successes include:  

  • All of our impact case studies were “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”, with half of them identified as “world-leading”.
  • 63% of our research environment is judged to be “world-leading” and the remainder “internationally excellent”.
  • 97% of our research outputs are “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”, with a third rated as “world-leading”.

In summary, 98% of research activity submitted by the School of Mathematics was rated as either “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”. 

Our research over the REF period has delivered excellent impact beyond academia:  

  • Our studies have enhanced the understanding of different transmission pathways for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Our results have informed the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the UK public policy during the pandemic. 
  • Our scientists have created the flood demonstrator “Wetropolis” for return periods of extreme rainfall and flooding events. This work led to new quantitative tools for flood-prevention, which have then informed environmental policies in France and Slovenia. 
  • In collaboration with other Schools and the Met Office, we have produced new diagnostic methods for mapping surface-weather conditions with unprecedentedly high resolution. These products feed directly into Met Office forecasts and alerts of extreme events, including a successful flood alert. 

We look forward to building on these successes as we pursue our vision of a School where everyone can thrive and reach their potential.  

Research environment 

The REF 2021 results are a testament to the ability of the School of Mathematics to attract world-class talent and how the School fosters an environment that supports its researchers and their research ambitions, combining a core mathematical focus with a strong interdisciplinary ethos. 

Since the REF, our success has been further recognised through the award to the University of Leeds of a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize, for research into tropical weather systems and climate science. The work, led by Professor Doug Parker, formed a large part of the research and capacity-building in the Global South which was recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Prize.  

The School has also been awarded a multi-million pound EPSRC Programme Grant in Algebra. This significant grant will fund an intense period of scientific activity on the international stage including world-leading research groups in the US, Canada, Chile, Sweden, Norway and Germany.  

The School is very successful at attracting international talent. Over the last year, two excellent early career researchers have successfully gained prestigious fellowships (EPSRC Early Career and UKRI Future Leader) to carry out fully funded research with us over the years to come.