Philosophy at Reading RAE

Research Assessment Exercise 2008

Philosophy at Reading:

  • equal 3rd in the UK
  • among the top 5 philosophy departments in the country
  • ahead of both Oxford and Cambridge
  • 2nd place within the University of Reading

At the end of 2008, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, in collaboration with the funding councils for the rest of the United Kingdom, released the results of the official audit of the quality of research in the UK’s higher education institutions.

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading achieved an outstanding result.

Each higher education department entered for the assessment had to submit a report on its research activity since the last exercise in 2001, including information about its graduate programme (including training and placement), grant awards, conferences held, and the professional activities (‘esteem’) of its staff members.

In addition, each member of staff in the department, if entered for assessment as part of the departmental submission, was required to submit samples of their publications (‘research outputs’) for assessment.

The assessment panel consisted of 16 experts, all professional philosophers in the UK, whose job was to judge all aspects of research within the department and provide a grade reflecting its quality.

Various aspects of research were weighted to reflect their importance within the overall quality profile, with by far the largest weighting being given to the quality of the publications submitted.

All publications were read by the panel experts without reference to where they were published. The judgments were based solely on the quality of the work presented to them.

The panel then classified the research activity in the department as either 4* (world leading), 3* (international excellent), 2* (internationally recognised), 1* (nationally recognised) or 0 (sub standard).

The results for the Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading are as follows. Note that the Department submitted every one of its full-time, permanent members of staff, unlike many other departments:

  • equal third place in the UK along with Sheffield and King’s College, London, all of whom scored an average of 3.05 and were just behind the equal-first St Andrew’s and University College, London, with a score of 3.15.
  • Reading came out ahead of both Oxford and Cambridge
  • 75% of our research was either 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
  • 30% of our research was 4*
  • 45% of our research was 3*
  • None of our research fell below ‘internationally recognized’.
  • Within the University of Reading, across all academic disciplines assessed, Philosophy was in 2nd place.

This represents an outstanding achievement by the Department, placing us in the top handful of the UK’s philosophy departments for research.

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