Research Excellence Framework

Henny Penny performance

REF 2021 Results

56% of School’s research activity classed as world-leading, including 100% of its research impact

Guildhall School has been rated the top music conservatoire for research in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2021), the national assessment of research in UK universities.

The School was found to have the highest percentage of world-leading research amongst its music conservatoire peers and the second-highest of all conservatoires across Drama, Music and Production Arts, with 56% of its submission classed as world-leading (4*, the highest rating). Within that overall score,

  • 46.5% of the School’s research outputs were rated world-leading (4*)
  • 100% of the School’s impact case studies were rated world-leading (4*). Guildhall was the only conservatoire or specialist drama school to score the maximum in this area.
REF Results
Profile 4* 3* 2* 1* U
Overall 56 21 19 3 1
Outputs 46.5 18.6 27.9 4.7 2.3
Impact 100 0 0 0 0
Environment 22.5 65 12.5 0 0

Comparison with performance in REF 2014 is imperfect due to the different elements of the application being weighted differently in the 'Overall' result. In 2014, Outputs counted for 65% of the 'Overall' result and Impact 20%, when in 2021 this was adjusted to 60% Outputs and 25% Impact. However, the results show a significant uplift in quality since the last REF exercise in 2014, reflecting the considerable growth and increasing international impact of the School’s research activity. In the School’s overall quality profile, the 4* percentage more than doubled compared with its result in 2014 (21% in 2014, 56% in 2022). The School’s 4*+3* score (where 3* denotes work that is internationally excellent) increased by more than half (from 51% in 2014 to 77% in 2022).

REF2021 logo

REF 2021 Submission

The School's REF submission includes a range of activities, from journal articles to compositions. Impact case studies showcase areas where music and drama have significant impact beyond the performing arts.

Henny Penny image

Henny Penny Impact Case Study

Professor Julian Philips and Professor Stephen Plaice reach new audiences and harness music as a tool for language education in primary schools with the children’s opera, Henny Penny

Careful performance

Taking Care Impact Case Study

Former Doctoral Programme Leader, Dr Alex Mermikides, is supporting and recognising nurses’ caring role through interactive drama and tailored resources.

Book cover


Edited by Andy Lavender and Alex Mermikides, 'Lightwork: Texts on and from Collaborative Multimedia Theatre' is a volume of performance texts and commentaries by members of noted experimental theatre company, 'Lightwork'.

Doris Day and James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

The Price of Curiosity

Richard Baker’s orchestral reimagining of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Man Who Knew Too Much. BBC Symphony Orchestra premiere 27 May 2022

REF 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). The funding bodies aim to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education.

For more information about the School's submission process, you can download the School's 2021 Code of Practice.

Guildhall School - Code of Practice - REF 2021.pdf