REF2021 : SUPA Research & Training Environment

Joint SUPA Statement from all eight University Partners

Launched in 2004, SUPA is a strategic partnership in research and advanced training across eight Scottish universities. Since its inception, the SUPA Graduate School has been delivering a highly developed and closely integrated programme of graduate education now offering over 60 advanced technical courses (over 800 hours of lectures per annum) for physics PhD students and PDRAs across Scotland. In addition, professional development training is tailored to a physics background. Courses, accessing the knowledge and skills of world leading researchers drawn from across the partner universities are mostly delivered by live video links using SUPA's e-learning portal with dedicated state-of-the-art video classrooms. There are also tutorials, lab classes, workshops, careers workshops and international summer schools (SUSSP). These courses are aligned to SUPA research themes:  Astronomy and Space Science, Condensed Matter and Material Science, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, Photonics, Plasma Physics, Energy and Physics & Life Sciences.  Each PhD student must take 40 contact hours of Advanced Physics courses and 20 hours of Professional Development courses in their first two years.

As the largest PhD Physics Graduate School in the UK, SUPA continues to have a major impact on Physics research and graduate education. Indeed, the SUPA Graduate School has grown substantially since the last REF (Research Excellence Framework); over the 7-year REF2021 assessment period (2013/14 to 2019/20), a total of ~1050 postgraduate students have commenced study within SUPA, and an average of ~111 PhDs have been awarded per year (as compared with an average of 78 per year during REF2014 and ~63 per year during RAE2008). During this REF2021 assessment period, the total number of PhD graduations has grown from ~90 in 2013/14 to 150 in 2019/20. Over this timescale, the SUPA Graduate School has delivered ~100,000 hours of training, comprising ~80,000 hours of Advanced Physics technical training and ~20,000 hours of Professional Development training. In addition to the PhD students, ~500 Masters-level students (both post-graduate and under- graduate masters) have enrolled on SUPA courses, as well as PhD students from adjoining disciplines benefitting from the large range of graduate-level training on offer.

As further evidence of the sustained strength and impact of SUPA in recent years, we note that total research awards has exceeded £550 million over the REF2021 assessment period.