Our reputation

A physics PhD student in the labs at the University of Leeds

We are among the top 100 universities in QS World University Rankings 2021

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a long history of award-winning and impactful research and teaching. William H Bragg conducted his Nobel Prize-winning research at Leeds and we’re able to lay claim to the development of Bragg's Law for X-Ray Diffraction, the origin and nature of magnetism, the creation of Barr and Stroud, spintronics, microbubbles and many other great accomplishments.

The School is led by Head of School Professor Helen F Gleeson, supported by Dr Lorna Dougan Director of Research and Innovation and Dr Alison Voice Director of Student Education.

Our achievements

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

Over 90% of our research activity was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 and we are top 5 nationally for research impact.

Every six years, the UK’s four higher education funding bodies undertake an exercise to measure the quality of research undertaken by UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The funding bodies use the outcomes to inform the allocation of their research funding to HEIs. The Research Excellence Framework was the framework used in 2014.

Unit of assessment: Physics

  • 3.16 overall quality profile
  • 100% of our research has either ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ impact
  • 91% of our research is ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’
  • 89.8% of our research outputs are ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

The quality of our research and the funding it attracts means we’re able to invest in world-class facilities and academic staff who are actively engaged in cutting-edge research. As a result, our students will be taught by internationally renowned, inspirational academics working at the forefront of their fields.


Our undergraduate Physics, Theoretical Physics and Physics with Astrophysics courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP). Accreditation is the means by which the IOP monitors the content and standard of physics degrees and keeps the wider community of physicists informed. IOP accreditation is an assurance that our courses reflect the most recent developments in physics and allow graduates to develop a profile of physics skills and transferable skills.