Professor Ben Cosh, Head of School
On 1 August 2016, the existing School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences became the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (SMPCS). In doing so, we warmly welcome colleagues from the new Department of Computer Science to our school.
SMPCS consists of three leading Departments within the University of Reading – Meteorology, Mathematics and Statistics, and now Computer Science: links to each department and the rich variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses they offer can be found on these pages. We are one of the largest and most successful cluster of mathematical and computational sciences departments within the United Kingdom, with more than 300 staff, including over 90 full-time and associate academic staff and 100 research staff. We are supported by significant investment from research funders and other partners, currently in excess of £50M of competitively won research grants and contracts together with over 110 PhD students. There is a particular focus on developing interdisciplinary activity and collaborative projects with the wider School, including large parts of two NERC national centres, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO). All departments benefit from close working relationships with the Institute for Environmental Analytics and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
Our research strengths were reflected in our strong performance in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) exercise. Within the Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences Unit of Assessment (which included work from the Departments of Meteorology, Mathematics & Statistics, and Geography & Environmental Science as well as staff employed by the Met Office), 86% of our research was rated World Class or Internationally Excellent. Research in this area is centred on the general theme of understanding environmental systems in the past, the present and the future. Knowledge gained is used to inform policy in environmental management and sustainable development, and to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in response to environmental change. In this Unit of Assessment, we were ranked third in the UK by Research Power, with 51% of our impact submissions rated ‘outstanding’ (4*), and fifth in the UK by Research Intensity. Reflecting this research reputation, our staff are embedded in decision-making and leadership roles across the academic community and beyond, for example on the Councils of the Royal Statistical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, the Joint Mathematical Council, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the Institute of Physics, the UK Government Climate Change Committee, and the Board of the Met Office. Our staff Chair the European Space Agency Earth Science Advisory Committee, and head up a large part of NERC NCEO, the British Atmospheric Data Centre and the Computational Modelling Services and Climate arms of NERC NCAS. A huge and distinctive asset to the School is that we are also home to approximately 25 Met Office scientists, embedded into our research activities.
Building on this research activity, we deliver courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Mathematics, Statistics, Environmental Physics, Meteorology and Climate, and Computer Science. These include a very wide choice of courses at all level from BSc to PhD, both within and between the School's departments and with a range of other departments across the University. We currently have around 500 full-time undergraduates and almost 200 postgraduate (MSc/PhD) students registered with the School.
We are rightly proud of our open, interactive and friendly working environment, and particularly our Athena SWAN Silver award - awarded for our commitment to proactive gender-neutral employment practice, strong support for those with disabilities and flexible working arrangements throughout our departments.
Professor Ben Cosh
Head of School