It is the country’s most prestigious national recognition for a UK academic or vocational institution and we have been recognised for our influential research into child poverty and support for vulnerable people.

Part of the UK’s national honours system, the biennial award scheme is distinctive in recognising the institution rather than an individual or team. This ninth round of awards has extra significance as it forms part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Those attending from Bath, which also included Professor Ian Butler, Professor Jane Millar, Professor Graham Room and five students, were presented with a silver gilt medal and certificate signed personally by Her Majesty the Queen.

A new certificate was used for the first time this year and was approved by Her Majesty the Queen. The cellular pattern, inspired by a microscope view of the structure of the “Queen Elizabeth” rose, bred to mark The Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952, communicates both the educational theme of the Prizes and a personal link with The Queen.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, said: "This is a very proud day for all our staff and students.

"Over three decades, the University’s Department of Social and Policy Sciences has been engaged in original and applied research in the field of family wellbeing, promoting the interests of some of the most vulnerable in society, in particular lone mothers, children and the extreme poor.

"The Department has made a substantial and sustained contribution, by this innovative research, to the development and delivery of social policy in the UK and in other countries. Its work is recognised as exceptional and distinctive by policy makers and charities both in the UK and globally.

Professor Ian Butler added: "It meant a lot to us to be able to talk about our work and to demonstrate the critical role played by the social sciences in tackling such major problems as poverty, exclusion and vulnerability to such a distinguished and influential audience."

“This most prestigious award provides official recognition to all those involved in the research, and to the University as a whole, and is something we can all take great pride in.”

— Vice-Chancellor Professor Glynis Breakwell

The Department of Social and Policy Sciences’ research included path-breaking studies of poverty and social exclusion in Europe, lone mothers and employment, child poverty from the children’s own perspective, and wellbeing in developing countries.

Impact of the research includes informing UK legislation on tackling child poverty, the design of the tax credits system, advising the Welsh government on policies promoting child welfare, stimulating innovations in micro-finance, and helping to develop strategies for tackling extreme poverty in Bangladesh.

The University is one of just 21 institutions to be awarded this prize.

The University was previously awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2000 to recognise the invaluable services to industrial and scientific communities of the Centre for Power Transmission & Motion Control.

To celebrate this new award the Department of Social and Policy Sciences is hosting a Queen's Anniversary Prize conference on Friday, 30 March 2012.

The event will present some of the research that led to the prize and its importance in the times of austerity through which we are now living. It is open to academic colleagues, students, policy makers, practitioners and members of the wider public to attend.