UWE Bristol REF 2014 Units of Assessment

UWE Bristol submitted to 17 Units of Assessment (UOA) as part of the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework). Click on the drop downs below to read more about each UOA.

Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science

This submission is based on the research of a collaborative group of staff who comprise the Agri-Food, Plant and Environmental Research theme within the Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB). Multi-disciplinary research in this group includes fundamental and applied research focussed on plant, crop, food, soil and water science.

Key research themes

Key research themes include:

  • Cell and molecular biology of plant stress related to crop production
  • Food and water qualityand technology development
  • Environmental and ecosystem impact of agriculture

The group also has strong links with the University Institute of Bio-sensing Technology (IBST), which fosters collaborations with industry and other research users.

Research with impact case study

Allied Health Professions and Nursing

This unit covers the work of 50 academic staff researching fundamental biomedical science and diagnostics through to the implementation and evaluation of novel patient care delivery.

Centres of Excellence

The research themes in this unit are supported by four Centres of Excellence:

  • The Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) carries out psychological and interdisciplinary research in appearance, visible difference (disfigurement) and body image, much of it in collaboration with health bodies and medical charities.
  • The Centre of Health and Clinical Research (CHCR) brings together researchers working in the fields of long-term conditions including mental health sciences; children and young people; emergency and critical care; public involvement in research; health, ethics and society and evaluative research.
  • The Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) brings together world class researchers working in the fields of biomedicine, bio-sensing technology, agri-food, plant and environmental science, underpinned by partnerships and innovative approaches to make a positive impact on the wider community.
  • The Institute of Bio-sensing Technology (IBST), the first of its type in the UK, develops academic/industrial partnerships to address the technological challenges posed by the healthcare, agri-food, environmental and security sectors - from the development of novel technology for detection and measurement of biological systems.

Research with impact case studies

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Centres of Excellence

UWE Bristol’s Architecture, Built Environment and Planning research is undertaken in three Centres of Excellence:

Research with impact case study

Art and Design

Research in Art and Design at UWE Bristol generates new knowledge through a mixture of dialogue, practice and critique, and applies that knowledge through user-led research with academic, practitioner, institutional and industrial partners.

Research groups

The work is focussed on three outstanding groups:

  • The Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) conducts internationally acclaimed practical research into the artistic, historical and industrial significance of creative print practices, processes and technologies, involving collaborations with a variety of practitioners, institutions and commercial users.
  • Moving Image Research is dedicated to the task of investigating the role of moving images in today's changing world with a particular interest in how innovations in technology, art and culture affect the production, content, politics and understandings of the value and meaning of moving images.
  • The Visual Culture Research Group (VCRG) conducts historical, empirical and theoretical research into art and design practices, with a major focus on gender and ethnicity, including influential work on feminist art and explorations of minority ethnic identities.

Research with impact case studies

Business and Management

Bristol Business School undertakes business and management research of internationally excellent quality with a strong emphasis on demonstrable impact in the real world. 

Research centres

Its research is mainly focussed in six University centres of excellence.

  • The Bristol Centre for Social Marketing (BSMC) explores the effectiveness of social marketing interventions and practices to encourage positive behaviour change.
  • The Centre for Employment Studies Research (CESR) applies its expertise to key issues such as; labour markets, equality, diversity and exclusion; work organisation, pay and HR management systems; work and well-being; employee representation; and public sector employment relations.
  • The Centre for Global Finance (CGF) looks at crucial issues in the global finance sector, including asset valuation modelling, capital structure drivers, credit risk analysis, compliance with international finance reporting standards, and auditors and corporate accountability.
  • Bristol Enterprise and Innovation Centre (BERIC) aims to produce high quality research, knowledge exchange and education in the areas of enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship for an international audience of academics, practitioners, students, policy makers and other interested parties.
  • The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre (BLCC) aims to conduct rigorous and relevant research to inform and shape leadership and organisational practice, policy and education.
  • Bristol Economics undertakes practically relevant, interdisciplinary, academically rigorous, applied economics research and consultancy.

Research with impact case studies

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies

This unit is focused on the intersections of digital media, everyday life, visual and urban culture, film and television. The Unit’s research is informed by an attention to history, theory, technology, audiences and identities in scholarly and applied contexts, with a distinctive strand of practice-based research exploring these issues across multiple platforms.  

The unit includes research groups in:

  • Cultural History
  • Film and Television Studies
  • Creative Media
  • Gender and Culture.

The Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC), based in the unit, stimulates innovation in scholarly and practice-based research into the culture, uses and applications of digital media technologies, promoting interdisciplinary collaborations, external partnerships and networking. 

Two further major initiatives that promote interdisciplinary and external partnerships include:

Research with impact case studies

Computer Science and Informatics

Computing science at UWE Bristol makes outstanding contributions to fundamental and applied research; from novel substrates to humanoid robotics; and from new machine learning algorithms, to large-scale distributed systems.

Centres of Excellence

Research is focussed in four centres of international excellence:

  • The Artificial Intelligence Group (AIG) undertakes leading-edge research into adaptive computing, with an emphasis on evolutionary computation. Its aim is to introduce and formally understand nature-inspired approaches to adaptive computing and to apply such basic research to practical applications to make real–world impact. AIG has merged with CCCS to form the Computer Science Research Centre.
  • The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) is a major international facility established by UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol and comprises a vibrant multidisciplinary research community including: electronic and mechanical engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, biologists, aerodynamicists, psychologists, surgeons, designers and material scientists.
  • The Centre for Complex Cooperative Systems (CCCS) undertakes applied research in large-scale distributed systems and data and process management, motivated by the rapid convergence of the telecommunication and information system industries. CCCS has merged with AIG to form the Computer Science Research Centre.
  • The Unconventional Computing Group is a unique interdisciplinary mix of theoretical and experimental studies, focussing on novel approaches to information processing in physical, chemical and biological systems.

Research with impact case study


Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) has now replaced Bristol Research in Lifelong Learning and Education (BRILLE) group.

BRILLE group builds on UWE Bristol’s well-renowned track record of research, evaluation and innovation in lifelong learning and education, including significant research in higher education (HE) settings.

Thematic areas

BRILLE group focuses on four key aspects of educational research, namely policy, partnerships, practice and pedagogy, and its work currently covers three major thematic areas:

  • Designing for Digital Learners (D4DL) - investigating the application of Technology Enhanced Learning to mediate, augment, support and transform learning.
  • Researching Children and Young People - focusing on the lived experiences of children and young people and the different policy and social contexts which impact on their lives.
  • Post-compulsory education, social justice and the student experience - working in areas of further, higher and work-based education, this theme also investigates issues of education and social justice and the experience of students across all phases and sites of education.

Research with impact case study

English Language and Literature

Research in English is diverse and includes work in:

  • Renaissance, Romantic and Gothic literature
  • Children’s literature
  • Victorian Literature
  • American Literature
  • Twentieth Century literature

This clustering in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century literature is reflected in a major grouping of staff in the UWE Long Nineteenth-Century Network.

Research with impact case study

General Engineering

Staff in this unit conduct theoretically informed research that is both collaborative and inter-disciplinary and is applied to real-world engineering problems.

Research teams

The Unit comprises three outstanding research teams:

  • The Centre for Machine Vision (CMV) which specialises in practical surface and object analysis using optical methods. This has led to innovative 3D and 4D (moving 3D) imaging technologies and advanced modelling for application in medical diagnostics, metrology and person biometrics.
  • The Institute of Bio-sensing Technology (IBST) which specialises in sensors and instrumentation in biomedical contexts, including the development of new bio-sensing techniques which permit sensitive and rapid diagnostic measurement using robust, inexpensive and easy-to-use technology.
  • The Engineering Modelling and Simulation (EMS) Group which specialises in control systems, data analysis, mathematical modelling and simulation of complex systems, including fluid flow, heat transfer, combustion modelling and flight simulation.

Research with impact case studies

Geography and Environmental Studies

Research in this unit is both theoretically informed, and applied in nature and conducted within a collaborative interdisciplinary framework.

Targeted research areas

Research is focused in three targeted research areas:

  • Air Quality and Carbon Management, including the work of the Air Quality Management Resource Centre (AQMRC) which is widely recognised by air quality and carbon management practitioners, nationally and internationally as a leading provider of information, advice, research and consultancy.
  • Water and Society, including the Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience (CFCR) which promotes resilient futures in changing flood risk contexts nationally and internationally - delivered through an integrated portfolio of research, knowledge exchange and co-generation. The Bristol Group for Water Research also focuses on issues related to the security and sustainability of urban water services and water-food-energy nexus.
  • Society, Culture and Community, high quality research on social and cultural issues centred on mobilities (including retirement, migration and pilgrimage), deathscapes, gender, urban and rural communities.

Research with impact case studies


Research expertise in History extends over a broad chronological and geographical range, from the fifteenth century to the present, incorporating British, Irish, European, Russian and African history.

Themes include:

  • gender and women's history
  • business history
  • international, imperial, diplomatic and military history
  • social and cultural history
  • religious history
  • the history of crime.

The well-established and highly regarded Regional History Centre promotes research about the history of Britain's South Western counties and in the understanding of regionalism as a dynamic force in the shaping of the domestic and international past. The Centre is committed to public engagement and knowledge exchange in local history and heritage and to building partnerships with the wider cultural industries.


The Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) has now replaced the Centre for Legal Research (CLR).

The law submission comprise staff in the CLR, a University-recognised research centre of excellence within the Department of Law which provides leadership for the Centre's five research units:

  • Commercial Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Environmental Law
  • Family Gender and Equality
  • International Law and Human Rights.

Research with impact case study


This unit draws on the expertise of researchers in the Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL).

Key research areas

The Centre's work takes a robustly empirical approach using corpus-based, quantitative, fieldwork and archival methodologies, whilst focusing principally on five key areas:

  • meaning in the broadest sense: semantics, pragmatics, lexicology, etymology and historical onomastics
  • metaphor and rhetoric
  • language contact, bilingualism, cross-linguistic studies, variation and change
  • psycholinguistic investigations of bilingualism, second language acquisition and learner language
  • spoken interaction, (critical) discourse analysis and (im)politeness.

The Centre hosts the:

Research with impact case study


Philosophy research at UWE Bristol is carried out by a small, friendly, energetic group of staff with particular expertise in:

  • Philosophy of Nature
  • post-Kantian philosophy
  • German Idealism
  • Phenomenology
  • Contemporary French and Italian Philosophy
  • Feminism
  • the Philosophy of Health and Medicine
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Political Thought.

Politics and International Studies

The Politics and International Relations group at UWE Bristol covers a diverse range of research interests, but with each individual linked in various ways to others with whom they share common research interests. Key themes include:

  • Human Rights, including migrants' rights and issues related to trafficking
  • Policy Making and Governance, including agricultural policy and the governance of small states
  • International Security, including human security and migration policy and the relationship between security and rights
  • US Foreign policy, including challenging the USA's status as the only remaining “super-power”.

Research with impact case study

Social Work and Social Policy

UWE Bristol's research in social work and social policy focuses upon two thematic areas:

  • Healthy, Sustainable Communities
  • Identity, Agency and Policy

Research groupings

This research is organised through groupings:

  • The Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) engages in psychological and interdisciplinary, person-centred research in appearance, disfigurement and body image. Its work encompasses the broad spectrum of appearance issues across the whole population, including linking appearance to social issues such as gender and media constructions.

Research with impact case studies