A closer look at the 2011 QS World University Rankings for English Language and Literature

by Mansoor Iqbal

At the pinnacle of the first ever QS World University Rankings® for English Language and Literature we find the towering titan of higher education that is Harvard, closely followed by the two halves of Oxbridge.

Harvard’s position at the top of the table is largely down to its strong reputation with academics, who may well have been motivated by respect for the plethora of eminent professors at the university’s English department. Faculty members include renowned post-colonialist Homi K. Bhabha, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham and founder of literary journal Representations and founding father of new historicism Stephen Greenblatt. Of course, reputation is nothing without world beating research to back it up, and Harvard does not disappoint in this regard. Between them, the faculty published 16 new works in 2010 (and two so far in 2011), including one play and one film.

Just below Harvard, we find Oxford outperforming its age-old rival in terms of both academic and employer reputation, further cementing its triumph across the humanities rankings, in which it finishes higher than Cambridge in all subjects apart from linguistics. This triumph can be ascribed to the Oxford’s status as a hotbed of literary research – at present, no less than 12 literary journals are edited or co-edited by the university’s faculty members. It also scores the highest employer rating, followed by Cambridge, showing that employers believe that Oxbridge continues to produce the graduates most suited to the rigours of professional life.

Californian public universities perform strongly, with UC Berkeley (4) and UCLA (9) cementing strong performances across the humanities, in which they consistently exceed their overall rank. The former thrives on its academic reputation, and can boast Pulitzer Prize winner and ex-American Poet Laureate Robert Hass amongst its faculty. UCLA’s position is the result of its strong employer reputation, which is only bettered by MIT, Harvard and Oxbridge. Read more

QS World University Rankings by Subject: Philosophy

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Rank Title Country Academic Employer Citations Score
1 Harvard University United States 99.6 96.3 50.3 94.3
2 University of Oxford United Kingdom 100.0 95.4 41.0 93.6
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 94.5 100.0 51.9 90.8
4 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States 88.4 65.4 73.3 84.6
5 Princeton University United States 80.1 39.7 81.6 76.2
6 Australian National University Australia 73.8 52.8 95.1 73.8
7 University of Toronto Canada 77.1 60.6 36.1 71.4
8 Stanford University United States 74.8 46.0 56.7 70.1
9 Yale University United States 73.2 64.4 22.1 67.2
10 University of Chicago United States 71.1 50.4 13.8 63.3
11 New York University (NYU) United States 64.7 50.9 60.0 62.9
12 Columbia University United States 64.4 60.4 41.3 61.7
13 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States 60.6 59.9 61.0 60.6
14 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States 53.4 78.4 90.8 59.6
15 The University of Melbourne Australia 55.1 53.3 95.5 59.0
16 University of British Columbia Canada 59.1 45.2 52.9 57.1
17 University of Michigan United States 55.9 39.6 80.1 56.7
18 McGill University Canada 57.3 53.9 26.5 53.9
19 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom 55.2 55.7 39.2 53.7
20 The University of Sydney Australia 55.2 53.6 30.6 52.6

QS World University Rankings by Subject: Environmental Sciences

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Rank Title Country Academic Employer Citations Score
1 Harvard University United States 85.2 100.0 79.6 85.0
2 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States 100.0 55.6 64.3 84.9
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 95.8 90.6 46.9 80.6
4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States 94.5 73.7 53.8 80.2
5 University of Oxford United Kingdom 88.5 76.6 55.0 77.3
6 Stanford University United States 84.0 54.1 65.5 75.5
7 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States 70.2 50.6 76.4 70.1
8 Princeton University United States 65.4 40.4 75.1 65.8
9 Imperial College London United Kingdom 67.8 63.2 46.1 60.8
10 Australian National University Australia 61.6 55.4 59.6 60.4
11 University of British Columbia Canada 67.8 45.7 44.7 58.7
12 The University of Tokyo Japan 76.9 42.3 26.5 58.3
13 ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Switzerland 60.5 39.4 55.2 56.8
14= National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore 70.6 30.9 37.1 56.6
14= University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States 61.1 51.6 49.2 56.6
16 The University of Melbourne Australia 64.4 53.5 39.6 55.9
17 Kyoto University Japan 70.5 49.7 25.8 55.0
18 Yale University United States 53.7 55.7 54.8 54.2
19 Cornell University United States 60.0 28.9 46.0 52.7
20 University of Toronto Canada 54.0 37.2 54.9 52.6

QS World University Rankings 2011: Environmental Sciences

By Danny Byrne

The first QS subject ranking for Environmental Sciences comes at a time when climate change, sustainable energy and green alternatives are high on the international agenda. The results show that the university research and innovation that underpins environmental policy is global in its reach, with universities from 30 countries making up the top 200.

Harvard’s presence at the top of the table will be no surprise to those who follow international rankings, but the varied and important environmental research carried out at the university provides ample evidence that it has not merely been carried there by general reputation. The Harvard University Centre for the Environment hosts environmental research drawing in interdisciplinary fields from chemistry, earth sciences and engineering to humanities and social sciences. Recent innovations to emerge from the university include a joint project with IBM to utilize idle computers and create a new, cheaper form of solar power.

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QS World University Rankings by Subject: Life Sciences Explained

Martin Ince takes a look at some of the cutting-edge research that is recognised in the latest batch of QS World University Rankings® by Subject

In this cluster of QS’s World University Rankings® by Subject, we examine three core areas of the life sciences: medicine, the biological sciences, and psychology. These subjects are among the most competitive fields of academic life. They are marked by a ruthless publish-or-perish culture, by big funding from governments, charities and the private sector, and by significant public attention. Graduates in them are among the least likely in the world to be unemployed.

The most tightly-defined of these three areas is psychology. This science has been revolutionized in recent years by brain scanning, which finally allows researchers to see what is happening where in the brain. At the same time, population aging has meant increased attention for psychology because of the growth in age-related degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. So psychology is becoming more of a hard science, and less of a social study. It also means big money, which explains why the well-resourced universities of the UK and the US dominate this table.

Harvard is the clear winner here, overall and for academic esteem (worth 50% of our total score), and is beaten only by Cambridge in employer opinion. The top institution for citations, the University of California at Irvine, appears overall in our 101-150 band, with low scores in the two other criteria. While psychology can be studied as a major at Irvine, it is mainly a research and postgraduate subject there.

By contrast to psychology, the biological sciences cover a wide range of topics from ecology, botany and zoology to non-human genetics. Climate change and growing human populations have added to their importance. Agriculture, which is highly concentrated in specialist institutions, is not included in this grouping.

Here too we see the big names of the US East and West coast – Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Caltech and California – dominating the field along with Oxford and Cambridge. Harvard is the employers’ favourite in this table, while our academic reviewers prefer Cambridge. The most-cited institution, Arizona State, owes its position to some key papers on techniques for editing DNA sequences which are cited in almost all publications in this area. But we have capped the influence of these outlier papers on a university’s overall ranking. This decision also affects Tokyo Metropolitan University, where one of the scientists involved in this work is now based.

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