The Review System

An explanation of how the review system for applications of ethical approval works.

Staff and postgraduate research students

Researchers can track the progress of their application using the review system. Once an outcome has been reached, the researcher will be informed via email.

Once an application has been submitted, it will automatically be assigned to the relevant Research Ethics Committee. The Committee's administrator will then allocate two nominated reviewers from the Committee to determine whether the application can receive a light touch review (e.g. if it involves minimal risk) or whether it needs to be escalated for review by the full Committee.

If the application merits a light touch review, the two nominated reviewers will consider the application and either approve it or request revisions. If revisions are needed, the researcher will carry out the revisions and resubmit their application through the online system.

If the application merits a full review, it will be considered by the Research Ethics Committee. The Committee may then approve the application, decline it, or request revisions.

Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students

When research is undertaken by students as part of a taught module, the Course Director will usually apply for an Exceptional General Approval for that research.

Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students undertaking research outside of a module with Exceptional General Approval will need to complete the online form in the system with the assistance of their dissertation supervisor, who will countersign the application form before it is submitted.

Initial review will be undertaken by the Authorising Supervisor. If the application only requires a light touch review (e.g. if it involves minimal risk), the Authorising Supervisor may approve or request revisions to the project.

If the Authorising Supervisor judges that the project requires full review, the application will be referred to the Departmental Ethics Officer (log-in required) for validation. If the Departmental Ethics Officer agrees that the project requires a full review, the application will be escalated to the relevant Research Ethics Committee for consideration. The application may be passed back to the Authorising Supervisor for a light touch review.

Once a project is approved, the student will be informed by email, with a copy of the confirmation also forwarded to their dissertation supervisor.


In the event that an application is declined by an Research Ethics Committee, researchers may appeal to the University Ethics Committee (log-in required). Students who wish to make an appeal should be supported in this by their supervisors.

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