Royal Birmingham Conservatoire research is bigger, better and broader, major review finds


Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is one of 84 UK research centres whose work in the areas of Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies was assessed in the latest Research Excellence Framework review.

The Conservatoire was evaluated across its outputs, including articles, books, scholarly editions, performances and compositions, with a panel evaluating significance, originality, and rigour, and in a national or an international context.

It was also scored on the quality of the research environment developed since the last review in 2014, and the impact of its research beyond academia.

Highlights from the review include:

  • Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has improved its overall Grade Point Average (GPA) from 2.85 to 3.14 out of a possible 4.00. 81% of RBC’s research overall was rated as 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world leading).
  • Within the Conservatoire sector (Music and mixed Music and Performing Arts), RBC is placed 2nd nationally for GPA (up from joint 3rd in 2014) and 1st in Research Power, maintaining its 2014 position.
  • RBC’s submitted outputs ranging from books and articles to critical editions, compositions, recordings, and live and digital performances. The proportion of outputs rated at 4* (world leading) has doubled since 2014.
  • 100% of RBC’s impact was scored in the top two categories (3* and 4*), with three case studies deriving from underpinning research in musicology, composition and performance. Impact ranged from large-scale community participation projects in Birmingham to high-profile international performances and broadcasts, including the BBC Proms and leading European opera houses and festivals
  • PhD completions have increased by 444%, from 9 in 2014 to 49 in 2021.
  • RBC achieved an 89% uplift in Research Power, demonstrating an increase in quality and quantity since 2014, underpinned by a 72% increase in staff Full Time Equivalent (FTE) returned. RBC’s return also included research in broader Performing Arts (Acting, Dance and Applied Theatre) for the first time.
  • By the measure of Research Power, RBC is placed 11 out of 84 in the overall table for Music and Performing Arts, sitting directly above the research-intensive Universities of Cambridge, York and Oxford – outperforming the latter also in GPA.

RBC Interim Principal Dr Shirley Thompson said: “Clearly, these results are terrific, reflecting the research strengths we already knew RBC had, of course – although it is good to have our achievements validated in this way.

“Huge thanks and congratulations to Professor of Performance-led Research in Music and Director of Research at RBC Jamie Savan and the wider RBC research management team for leading this exercise so expertly, and to all colleagues who contributed to the submission itself.  It’s a great outcome, very well deserved.”

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