Our research

The University already has a global research reputation. The new building will enhance this further by creating a dynamic and inspiring environment that will attract and retain world-class researchers and exceptional students.

We want the building to be where world class research exists at all levels, from initial conversations to fully fledged partnerships; developing relationships with industry, regional Enterprise Partnerships and global academic communities. The feel is of a fluid flow of ideas and exchange of perspectives across all disciplines. In this way we will deepen existing relationships as well as build new.

Our focus on world-class research

  • The focus of activities will be intellectually rigorous and constantly changing to reflect the questions and challenges that will shape the future and put Exeter at the forefront of thought leadership in those areas.
  • Academic activities are part of a flexible research community which will evolve as areas of research morph and change.
  • The new space will encourage the creation of ideas at all levels from an initial conversation, to a fully-fledged discussion with internal and external partners. The building will be designed to facilitate an infectious energy and dynamism, showcasing Exeter’s world class research capability.

By bringing together the institutes and research groups within the building, we are creating a collaborative space in which to produce innovative research methods and methodologies that will drive ground-breaking research. Data and data science will be at the heart of driving innovation in analytical approaches, and by bringing together Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) perspectives research will be integrated and able to effectively deliver far-reaching global results. 

Find out more about our research groups and institutes below.

Global Systems Institute

How do we achieve a flourishing future for people as part of a life-sustaining Earth-system, as populations increase?

Can life adapt to global changes?

The Global Systems Institute will be thought-leading in understanding global changes, solving global challenges, and helping create a flourishing future world together, through transformative research and education. It aims to become a ‘go to’ place for global change researchers from around the world, bringing them together with industry, policymakers, students and other stakeholders to tackle shared problems, acting as a catalyst to translate this research into applications that deliver tangible and sustainable benefits. For researchers and learners, the GSI will be a highly creative and stimulating academic environment with a catalytic mix of individuals from different backgrounds, organisations, cultures and nations.

Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

How do we collect, store and draw value from huge volumes of data?

How can we combine data and modelling to make robust predictions?

The Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence will develop innovative approaches to the present-day use of data, from interrogation and analysis to interpretation, visualisation and communication. It will be a truly interdisciplinary institution with collaboration between data scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists. It aims to develop cutting edge approaches, allowing data to be fully utilised in addressing some of today’s most important global and societal challenges. Project North Park’s collaborative learning spaces and computer labs will provide a first-class educational experience for students, allowing them to integrate with both researchers and domain experts, and providing opportunities for exciting student-led collaborations and initiatives.

Humanities Research Institute

What is the impact of technological developments on our human experience?

What are the cultural challenges of immersive technology?

The Humanities Research Institute will create a distinctive environment to propagate innovation in research questions and methodologies. Its open approach will facilitate the development of new ideas, methods and tools, and the development of new relationships beyond Humanities’ traditional boundaries. Building on Exeter’s rising profile in Digital Humanities it will position the University at the cutting edge of Humanities and as a sector leader in what can be achieved at the creative interface of culture, data science and digital technology. Students will be able to experience the future directions of Humanities research and teaching, as those emerge and are developed.


What makes life on a planet sustainable?

Are we alone in the universe?

The Astrophysics research group has gradually expanded to establish its position at the forefront of stellar and exoplanetary science. The group is already involved in major international projects, such as the Terra Hunting Experiment, devoted to the search for Earth-twins and, in the longer term, possible signatures of life. Project North Park will help Exeter play a leading role in these fascinating adventures, and facilitating strong synergies between Astrophysics and climate science, computer science and big-data analysis will accelerate the pace of analysis and increase the potential for breakthrough discoveries. The state-of-the-art instrumentation, equipment and facilities offered by Project North Park will give opportunities for innovative approaches to both research and teaching, providing Exeter’s students with unique experiences.


How do we apply computational methods to solve social questions?

How can we link textual analysis and social networks to understand the impact of fake news?

How can we use machine learning to identify online radicalisation?

Exeter is one of only fifteen universities to host a Q-Step Centre, bringing together international social scientists with an interest in a growing number of topics including media, climate change, migration, terrorism, political representation, electoral competition and social media. Project North Park will strengthen Q-Step’s interdisciplinary research activity by providing spaces for collaboration and for discovering new and exciting synergies. Students will have the opportunity to learn by observing real data analysis and to get involved in cutting-edge research.


How can we make sure our water and waste systems are resilient and sustainable for the future?

How do we optimise productivity of water and waste systems through better management of the natural environment?

The Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) is a partnership with South West Water. CREWW is the first purpose-built, transdisciplinary research centre in the water sector, and will focus on the most pressing challenges that impact upon the provision of safe and resilient water and waste services across the UK and overseas. The Centre will be based in North Park and include laboratory facilities and collaborative space, where researchers from multiple disciplines can work with water industry colleagues to co-create engineering, nature, economic and behaviour-based solutions which deliver multiple benefits to the environment, society and the economy.

It is anticipated that over time the occupancy of the building may alter, with research communities evolving and moving out of the building. Our rationale as to why specific research communities are located in the building, and in particular the value of those groups being co-located, is described in our ‘Intellectual Vision’ below. This describes the academic activity that will be undertaken and the ways of working that will lead to the creation of world class research.

Intellectual vision

Our ambition is to enable transformational research and education that tackles some of the fundamental challenges of our times. Many of these challenges require the interdisciplinary research and cross-sector collaboration that the building will facilitate. Staff and students will explore the fundamental building blocks of our social and natural systems, from the forces which created our solar system to those underlying the unprecedented environmental and social change that we are currently witnessing. Academic work within the building will produce innovative research methods and methodology, recognising the role of big data and artificial intelligence in enabling us to refine, interpret and analyse increasingly complex data sets.

A unique part of our vision will be the bringing together of HASS and STEMM perspectives to extend the dimensions of research to consider human consequences and the policy implications of these challenges. This will bring a unique fusion and broaden the potential impact of our research in a way that we believe will make us a leader in the sector. This will ensure that Exeter is at the forefront of future advances; engaging in global conversations that will help to shape the way the world evolves.