Our research

Our research

Our research activities play a central role in our success. We received £100 million in research awards in 2016/17 and our research funding has increased by 187% since 2007/8, enabling us to recruit the best academic researchers and to offer hundreds of funded PhD studentships annually. We are at the forefront of global and national research collaboration, actively supporting staff and students to build working relationships with counterparts overseas.

We are particularly committed to encouraging new ideas and nurturing talent, and as such we boast an extremely high number of early career researchers at Exeter. Thirty per cent of our academic staff are early career researchers currently, a much greater proportion than most other universities. This makes the University of Exeter one of the very best places to pursue postgraduate study.


Postgraduate study explained

  • Generally last 1-2 years
  • Follow a specific programme in your area of interest
  • Become highly skilled in your area
  • Learn and apply the latest techinques and tools
  • Often includes a practical supervised project
  • Qualifications include;
    • Master of Arts (MA)
    • Master of Science (MSc)
    • Master of Research (MRes)
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    • Master of Laws (LLM)
    • Postgraduare Certificate (PgCert)
    • Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)

Learn more about taught postgraduate programmes at Exeter

  • Generally last 4+ years
  • Develop new tools and techniques
  • Aquire new knowledge in your subject
  • Undertake independant research project
  • Submit a thesis or dissertation of original work
  • Research programmes include:
    • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
    • Masters by Research (MbyRes)
    • Engineering doctorate (EngD)
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    • Master of Surgery (MS)
    • Professional doctorates (such as EdD and EngD)

Learn more about research postgraduate programmes at Exeter


What our students say:

"I’ve found that the research quality is very high, with excellent guidance available"

“I chose the LLM at Exeter because of the international outlook, excellent research-led modules and prestigious team of senior lecturers. I’ve since found that the research quality is very high, with excellent guidance available to help you pursue individual interests. Exeter also has fantastic library facilities, a strong student support system, and of course a beautiful campus! I hope to join an NGO as a lawyer and activist when I leave, and I’ve received careers guidance to help me achieve this, including help with my CV.”

Siddhi, studying LLM International Human Rights Law


"It is small enough to have a supportive, ‘family’ feel but also has an excellent reputation for research"

“The Theology department has an extremely supportive group of staff and an exciting range of research specialisms. There are also postgraduate research seminars available to widen interest. The staff have a great mix of faith backgrounds, which is refreshing and very helpful in terms of an open study environment. It is small enough to have a supportive, ‘family’ feel but also has an excellent reputation for research and some well-known theologians on staff.”

Catherine, studying MA Theology


World class rankings

  • Research excellence - 98% of our research is of international quality, with 82% rated world-leading or internationally excellent1
  • Top 200 of universities worldwide2
  • International reputation - winner at the What Uni? Student Choice awards 2015 & 2017
  • Following the REF 2014 HEFCE has awarded us an additional £3.8 million for research, the third highest gain amongst English universities.
  • We are ranked 16th nationally taking account of the proportion of staff submitted.3
  • We have nine Units of Assessment in the top 10 nationally for world-leading or internationally excellent research with three in the top five.
    Theology (2nd), Area Studies, Archaeology (3rd), Politics (5th), Sociology, Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Public Health, Biological Sciences.

Find out more about our REF 2014 results.

Outstanding support for postgraduate and early career researchers

The University of Exeter Doctoral College stimulates, supports and sustains a vibrant research and intellectual environment across and between disciplines for postgraduate and early career researchers. Focusing on investment and development in training, resources and facilities, the Doctoral College provides an outstanding quality experience for those in the early stages of their research careers.

Development opportunities at our Doctoral College

We provide:

To find out more about these and other support and development opportunities available to our postgraduate researchers at the University of Exeter, visit the Doctoral College website.

Doctoral Training Partnerships

As part of our sustained commitment to developing new talent and building research capacity, we continue to invest millions of pounds in our research infrastructure, and we are one of only a handful of universities to have successfully secured Doctoral Training Partnerships with each of the UK Research Councils. 

Find out more about our Doctoral Training Partnerships.

1Research Excellence Framework 2014
2THE World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings
3Not including specialist institutions, or those with anomalous data



The Guardian University Awards 2018


Research at Exeter

As a Russell Group University our research makes a difference across the world.


Outstanding results in the Research Excellence Framework 20141

Top 200 of universities worldwide2

A member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities

Interdisciplinary research is an engine to innovation and a hallmark of Exeter’s recent success. Our research bridges the gap between the arts, humanities, social sciences and pure sciences to tackle global challenges, such as food security and ageing, in a holistic way.

Professor Nick Talbot, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Impact