UOA 32: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Students working in industry in Art and Design

REF Highlights 2021

Our researchers

38 researchers submitted to this Unit of Assessment.

Our impact

Two thirds of impact submitted for assessment was judged to be outstanding or very considerable in terms of reach and significance.

Our performance

60% of outputs were judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Our REF submission

Between REF 2014 and REF 2021, we saw substantial growth in the scale of our research activity, almost tripling the number of staff submitted for assessment and quadrupling the number of PhD students, with a significant rise in doctoral awards.

Our submission to this unit of assessment featured contributions from 38 people, 82 outputs and three impact case studies:

This area of our work also saw 45 doctoral awards and £3.7m research income during the REF 2021 period.

Our research

Research in Art and Design is coordinated across the Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts, which is housed within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.

Our research builds on a rich tradition of art and design research in and for Birmingham, stretching back to our foundation in a Government School of Design in 1843. Our research aims to integrate art and design research, practice, teaching, and knowledge exchange to contribute to cultural and societal understanding, whilst local and global creative industries and practices. We believe and demonstrate that art and design research matters in a contemporary world.

Our research activity is characterised by collaboration and interdisciplinarity. Our researchers are artists, designers, architects, theorists and writers working in clusters defined through staff expertise and world-leading research.

Our research clusters are strongly rooted in civic partnerships, and in collaborations with communities and institutions regionally, nationally, and globally. They include:

These established clusters have been joined by exciting emerging research areas that bring together researchers across art and design in newer clusters:

  • Craft Cultures, where researchers are exploring the multidisciplinary characteristics and praxis of craft in relation to its heritage and contemporary relevance.
  • Dress in Context, where researchers from across the arts and humanities explore dress and its relationship to individuals and society.
  • Material Encounters, interrogating and extending the boundaries of materiality within contemporary art practice.
  • Urban Cultures, focussing on changing pattern of art, crafts, architecture, and the urban environment in regional and global culture.

Our new strategic partnerships and networks, and engagement with a wider range of communities, have driven pathways to impact in all clusters.

Our results in detail

Figures relate to the percentage of the submission meeting each standard:

Overall 19 49 32 2.87
Outputs 14.6 46.4 39 2.76
Impact 33.3 33.4 33.3 3.00
Environment 15 85 0

See our full results on the REF 2021 website.