Politics and international studies research being carried out in UK universities is "world class", and the field is well placed for the future, according to an independent international review.
The review, to be published next week, has "benchmarked" the current position of the field against the best worldwide research, highlighting strengths and weaknesses.
Entitled An International Assessment of UK Politics and International Studies Research , it concludes there is "considerable evidence of research quality across all the principal disciplines" and "truly outstanding research in the UK profession".
Particularly strong areas were political theory, electoral studies, the "English School" of international relations, European Union studies, "critical" security studies, political economy and some areas of public policy and administration.
The review team, chaired by Robert E. Goodin of the Australian National University, also says student numbers are healthy and "demographically balanced", with young scholars progressing well through the ranks. It adds there is "no looming 'retirement crisis'."
Iain Jones, head of evaluation at the Economic and Social Research Council, which initiated the exercise along with the learned societies in the field, said: "It shows we are leading the world in many areas."
John Tonge, the chair of the Political Studies Association, said: "Given the global breadth of politics research, this is some accolade."
The review also highlights areas for improvement, including a need for more training in advanced research methods. But the most controversial recommendation is likely to be on ESRC studentships, where the review endorses the current "quota" system. Of 57 recognised politics departments, 17 are eligible to have PhDs funded under this system.
Professor Tonge said the quota system made it harder for weaker departments to improve.
The review also says that research funding should continue to be concentrated in the best departments and that assessments of research quality should not be left to metrics alone, but rather "panels of scholars capable of reading and judging work for themselves".
- The Political Studies Association this week announced the academic winners of its annual awards.
Sir Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics received the Political Publication of the Year Award for his report for Gordon Brown on global warming.
John Dunn of Cambridge University was given the Sir Isaiah Berlin Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies Award, and Joni Lovenduski, professor at Birkbeck College, London, received a Special Recognition Award for her work on women and politics.
Anthony King, from Essex University, won a Special Recognition Award, and Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, both professors at Plymouth University, were given the Political Studies Communication Award in recognition of their work to help make sense of electoral change.