“Our impressive REF 2014 results show our growing strengths across all five of our subject areas. Our 100% score in the research environment category demonstrates the vital and sustainable context that has flourished since the merger of the former Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh. As a College, we are particularly excited to be contributing to the broader ecology of world-leading research taking place in Scotland.” 

Professor Chris Breward, ECA Principal

Research at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)

A short interview with Ed Hollis, Director of Research at ECA

A diverse community

Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) has a vibrant research community reflecting the diverse expertise of its members and the disciplines it brings together. Based across five schools and numerous research centres, our varied projects use and develop methodologies that can be speculative, process-driven or product-oriented. Our strength is in also fostering rich, creative relationships between investigators and across lines of critical inquiry, leading to both depth and breadth of understanding across art, design, culture, architecture, environments, media and music. Our cross-cutting approach has attracted funding from major providers, including the UK Research Councils and institutions from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in the Arts, Humanities, Science and Medicine.


At ECA, we focus on engaging stakeholders at all stages of our research projects, from shaping initial questions through developing methodologies to sharing findings and recommendations. As a result, our research has achieved substantial impacts on public and institutional policy and professional practice, as well as having raised awareness and understanding among the public. Many of our research projects are site-based: in studios, galleries, museums and concert halls. They also reach beyond cultural institutions and audiences to industry, healthcare, law, education, cities, landscapes and the people they serve.


ECA is home to a number of flagship research centres, including OPENspace, the Scottish Documentary Institute and the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development. Our leading academics are Principal and Co-Investigators on projects bringing together researchers from world-class universities and institutions and published in established international journals. We are dedicated to building capacity and skills among early career researchers, helping them to become leaders in their field and ambassadors for our Institution. We are delighted to have 11 of the University of Edinburgh’s Chancellor's Fellows, all selected for their track record and their potential to drive forward creative, innovative and exciting research.

REF 2014

ECA performed exceptionally strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. REF is a process of expert review. The assessment outcomes are used in grant allocation and provide accountability for, and evidence of the benefits of, public investment in research. According to the Research Fortnight ‘Power Index’ (based on breadth and quality of research), we are eighth in the UK for Art, Design and History of Art. In Music we are placed thirteenth. Our joint submission with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, places us second. Across all five of our subject areas (Art, Design, History of Art, Music, and Architecture & Landscape Architecture), 100% of our research environment has been recognised as either world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). 

In Art, Design and History of Art (REF Unit of Assessment 34), we are the top-placed University in Scotland for the volume of research activity taking place at a world-leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) level. We are placed in the top six in the UK.

Together with HWU, with whom we made a joint submission, we have retained our status as first in Scotland for volume of world-leading and internationally excellent research in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (REF Unit of Assessment 16).

Within Music (part of REF Unit of Assessment 35), we are top in Scotland for both world-leading and internationally excellent research outputs. The breadth and quality of these 4* and 3* outputs places us in the top 10 Music submissions in the UK.

ECA events - Research

06 Jun 2017
Aggression, Transgression & the Avant-garde
Screening Room (G.04, ground floor)
50 George Square