The research assessment exercise, carried out every five years, gives a rating to each university department put forward for evaluation, based on the quality of research.
These ratings run from the top score of 5* down then through 5, 4, 3a, 3b, 2 and 1 - and these are the figures shown in the column alongside each the university's name.
What the ratings mean:
5*: More than half the research submitted is at international level of excellence
5: Up to half the research submitted is at an international level of excellence and the rest is at national level of excellence
4: Virtually all the research submitted is at national level of excellence, with some evidence of international excellence
3a: More than two thirds of the research submitted is at national level of excellence, possible signs of international excellence
3b: More than half the research submitted is at national level of excellence
2: Less than half the research submitted is at national level of excellence
1: None or virtually none of the research submitted at national level of excellence
What the tables show
The tables provided here allow you to search the assessment results by university and by subject area. This means you can look up the research ratings achieved in all the departments submitted by a university, showing its research strengths and weaknesses.
This does not reflect the quality of courses or teaching and a high rating in research does not necessarily represent an endorsement of the courses on offer to undergraduates. What it does mean is that a high score will entitle the department to extra funding for research.
If you search under the subject area, this will show how university researchers performed within this field. You can view institutions alphabetically, or ranked on their ratings from 5* downwards, with universities achieving the same score then listed alphabetically.
There is no list of the departments which universities chose not to submit for assessment, a number that has increased in 2001.
The page for each university also shows the number of research staff put forward for assessment, and the percentage of research staff that this represents. These figures can include decimals because they are "full-time equivalents" - that is, taking account of part-time staff.
Universities are not obliged to put forward all research staff for assessment.
There are universities which submitted only a handful of departments - or only a small number of staff - and these figures suggest the scale of achievement, rather than the quality of the individuals put forward.