Research at Swansea
For over 40 years researchers at Swansea have made interesting and useful contributions to Computer Science in the areas of data-centric computing, semantics of specification and programming languages, formal methods for designing software and hardware, operating systems, computer graphics, multimedia communication, modelling of complex fluids, the human-computer interfaces, interaction technologies, and the social impact of science and technology. The Department has been home to many fine computer scientists.
Today, the Department's main research interests include:
We are also leading a Swansea initiative in the History of Computing.
Swansea computer scientists enjoy working with a huge range of collaborators from all over the world and play their part in leading the development of the subject.
The rest of this page reviews the results of the latest external assessment of our research: RAE 2008, covering 2001–7. The next assessment will be the REF, which is expected to cover the period 2008–2013.
The RAE 2008 results have been announced. As the Vice-Chancellor wrote:
"Swansea University has demonstrated an extraordinarily strong performance against other UK universities in the disciplines of Engineering, Medicine and Computer Science, where almost all staff were classed as producing world-leading or internationally excellent research".
The Department submitted all 22 of its research-active academic staff for RAE 2008. The following profile shows the percentage of our research activity judged to fall within the five RAE quality grades in terms of originality, significance and rigour:
Quality 4* 3* 2* 1* UC % 25 45 25 5 0
The 4* grade is reserved for world-leading research, and 3* for other internationally excellent research. Thus 70% of our submission was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.
A total of 81 UK institutions made RAE 2008 submissions in the Computer Science and Informatics Unit of Assessment.
Only 12 submitted a higher percentage of world-leading research.
All the quality profiles, together with the number of staff submitted, are available from the RAE website. They can be compared and ranked in many ways, according to whether the percentage or the total volume of high-quality research is regarded as the more significant. Here is how our department stands in the UK (and in Wales) with some of the more popular rankings:
- GPA (grade-point average): 2.90, equal 21st in the UK
- 4* volume: 21st in the UK (1st in Wales)
- 4* percentage: equal 13th in the UK (equal 1st in Wales, with Aberystwyth)
- 4* then 3* percentage: equal 19th in the UK (equal 1st in Wales, with Aberystwyth)
- 4* plus 3* percentage: equal 18th in the UK (equal 1st in Wales, with Aberystwyth and Cardiff)
The 4* volume ranking is surely the best indicator of where to find a substantial amount of top quality research. The simple GPA ranking (generally adopted by the media) has two general deficiencies:
- it does not take account of the percentage of staff submitted, and
- the numerical ratios between the grades do not reflect the difficulty of achieving them.
Ranking by GPA volume (i.e. GPA times the number of submitted staff) does not reflect the volume of high quality research, since it generally ranks a larger department having a very low GPA above a smaller department having a much higher GPA. Moreover, in Computer Science and Informatics the GPA ranges from 1.5 to 3.35 (the average is 2.75) whereas the number of submitted staff ranges from 2 to 104.
Also the sub-profiles for research outputs, research environment and esteem indicators are available (PDF). Regarding research outputs, 26.1% of our submission was graded 4*, and 50.0% graded 3* – so altogether 76.1% assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.