Guildhall School has been rated the top music conservatoire for research in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) and placed second highest of all conservatories across Drama, Music, and Production Arts, with 56% of the School’s research activity classed as world-leading in the national assessment of research in UK, including 100% of its research impact.

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
  • 100% of the School’s impact case studies were rated world-leading. Guildhall was the only conservatoire or specialist drama school to score the maximum in this area.

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).

Guildhall School submitted research by 31 current members of staff and 2 former staff (at the time of submission), including outputs from several long-running research projects, many of which involved extensive collaboration. Significant among these were the School’s two impact case studies, both of which scored the maximum 4* grade: Henny Penny, a children’s opera by Professor Julian Philips and Professor Stephen Plaice, designed as a tool for language education in primary schools; and Taking Care, a mixed-methods drama research project aimed at nurse educators, undertaken by Dr Alex Mermikides at Guildhall School and Kingston University. These projects will continue to produce outputs and impact into the future.

 Other developments arising from the submission and made public this month include the collection Lightwork: Texts on and from Collaborative Multimedia Theatre, co-edited by Professor Andy Lavender and Dr Alex Mermikides, and The Price of Curiosity, a large-scale orchestral work by Dr Richard Baker which will receive its world premiere on 27 May with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alpesh Chauhan.

Professor Jonathan Vaughan, Interim Principal, Guildhall School said: “I’m delighted that Guildhall School’s growing research community has been rewarded with such glowing REF2021 results. During the last REF cycle there was astonishing growth in research at Guildhall, both in numbers involved—our doctoral programme, for example, more than tripled in size—and the breadth of disciplines explored. From our established strengths in composition to our emerging work in the areas of arts and health and social impact, not least our Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts, our research is providing thought leadership for the institution within our sub-disciplines and—as our maximum score in research impact indicates—also for society at large.”

Professor Cormac Newark, Head of ResearchGuildhall School said: “This result is tribute to the work of staff across the School. Like all UK higher education institutions, Guildhall School made the final preparations for its submission to REF2021 under restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Education staff across the world were heroically meeting the challenge of the sudden move to online teaching, and particularly those in the conservatoire sector, where one-to-one in-person training is central to the tradition. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their extraordinary hard work during a very difficult time, and over the longer period since the previous REF exercise in 2014, and I trust these excellent results will make them proud.”

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the national assessment of research in UK universities and is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland. 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.

Find out more about Guildhall School’s REF 2021 submission and research at Guildhall.