The work of staff and students at a Hampshire university has been given the royal seal of approval after being handed a prestigious award by The Queen.

The computer science department at the University of Southampton has been given the title of Regius Professor, after being deemed “outstanding”.

Regius Professorships are a rare privilege, with only two created in the past century to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

Until today the awards had been limited to a handful of the UK and Ireland's ancient universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews and Trinity College, Dublin.

The Queen was set to bestow six of the new titles to universities across the UK to mark her Diamond Jubilee year.

But twelve winning submissions will now receive the honour, after ministers were overwhelmed by the “exceptionally high quality” of entrants.

Bosses at the University of Southampton will now assign the award to an existing professor in the computer science department, after receiving written confirmation of the gong from Minister for Universities and Science, David Willets and Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith.

Mr Willetts said: “I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and am delighted that twelve new Regius Professorships are to be created.

“Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.

“It is testament to the quality and strength of our higher education sector that so many universities were considered worthy of such a distinguished honour.”

The 12 new posts of Regius Professor are awarded to:

  • University of Dundee - Life Sciences
  • Imperial College, London - Engineering
  • London School of Economics and Political Science - Economics
  • The Open University - Open Education
  • University of Manchester - Physics
  • Royal Holloway, University of London - Music -
  • University of Essex - Political Science
  • King's College London - Psychiatry
  • University of Reading - Meteorology and Climate Science
  • University of Southampton - Computer Science
  • University of Surrey - Electronic Engineering
  • University of Warwick - Mathematics