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Our research


The College of Life and Environmental Sciences conducts internationally-recognised research across the disciplines of Biosciences, Geography, Psychology, and Sport and Health Sciences. Our research is frequently interdisciplinary in nature, embracing disciplines within and outside the College. We combine expertise from across the sciences, humanities and social sciences, and collaborate with other world leading researchers from around the globe.

We play a significant role in contributing to three of the University's four key research themes: Environmental Intelligence, Clean Growth and Healthy Ageing, as well as the specialist interdisciplinary research areas Exeter Marine and Exeter Energy.

We are actively involved in the interdisciplinary research led by the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at our Cornwall Campus near Falmouth and at the Living Systems Institute and Global Systems Institute at our Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Research degrees

Around 330 research students study within the College, across the University’s three campuses in Exeter and Cornwall. Together with around 380 postgraduate taught students and our research-active staff, research students in the College form part of a flourishing postgraduate and research community. Find out more about postgraduate research degrees within the College, including MPhil/PhD.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Our research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.


Biological Sciences is top 20 in the UK for world-leading research:1 90% of research is rated at 4* and 3*, and 100% of our research has internationally excellent impact2.

Geography and Environmental Science

Geography and Environmental Studies is 6th in the UK for research, with 91% of research rated at 4* and 3*.

We are 6th in the UK for world-leading research in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences,1 with 90% of research rated at 4*and 3*.


Psychology4 is 11th in the UK for internationally excellent research3, with 92% of our research rated at 4* and 3*.

Sport and Health Sciences

Sport and Health Sciences5 is 1st in the UK for world-leading research1: 99% of research is rated at 4* and 3*, and 100% has world-leading impact2.

1. Based on 4* research in REF 2021
2. Based on research impact rated 4* and 3* in REF 2021 
3. Based on 4* and 3* research in REF 2021
4. Submitted to UoA4: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
5. Submitted to UoAA2: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Fellowship opportunities

Our expanding, dynamic and supportive research environment is an ideal location for independent research fellows. Many former fellows have gone on to become permanent members of academic staff within the College.
Fellowship applicants interested in joining us should contact the Associate Dean (Research) in the first instance to discuss opportunities for hosting their proposed project within the College. We also welcome enquiries from existing fellowship holders interested in transferring to the College.

Fellowship support is offered at all stages:


  • Advice on scheme suitability and proposal writing from our many successful fellows and research support staff, many of whom have worked for funding bodies and who have expertise in bid development across a range of key funders.
  • Review and feedback on all aspects of draft proposals.
  • Assistance with interview preparation, including the convening of mock panels and communications training where appropriate.

For Fellows

  • 1:1 mentoring from senior colleagues.
  • Peer support from our Early Career Researcher network.
  • Opportunities (but no obligation) to gain teaching experience and to supervise BSc, MSc, MRes, and PhD project students.
  • Training and personal development.
  • Support for grant proposal development from senior academic colleagues and funder specialists within our Research professional services team.

Career progression

  • Clear criteria for progression to permanent positions.
  • Opportunities for proleptic appointments.