Minority subject cleans up

December 14, 2001

THES reporters look at how RAE results have improved and put Hefce on the spot.

Mineral and mining engineering tops the table for the best subject results, helped by the fact that biochemistry, which topped the table in 1996, disappeared from the exercise and that just three institutions entered this unit of assessment, writes Alison Goddard.

The mineral and mining engineering panel, led by Michael Gregory of the University of Cambridge, awarded the top 5* grade to Imperial College, London, and Heriot-Watt University. The University of Exeter gained a grade 4.

The ranking is based on a weighted average mark calculated for each subject by assigning a score from one to seven for the different grades. This was multiplied by the number of staff who gained each of these grades, then divided by the subject's total number of research-active staff. For example, if everyone in a discipline worked in a 5* department, the score would be 7. Mineral and mining engineering scored 6.55.

Other subjects have made more rapid advances. The average score for research in English language and literature shot up from 4.42 to 5.84 - an improvement of almost 33 per cent. Clinical laboratory sciences climbed by 31 per cent (from 4.60 to 6.02); philosophy by per cent (4.6 to 5.85); accountancy by 26 per cent (4.7 to 5.99); and law by 25 per cent (4.82 to 6.03).

Overall, the mean score across the 68 units of assessment rose by 17 per cent. Despite that, some subjects suffered. Although it went from 5.5 to 5.7, archaeology slipped down the league table from fifth in 1996 to 31st position in 2001.

RAE 2001 league tables

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