Undergraduate/postgraduate research projects

If you are planning a research project involving human participants, ethical issues should be considered early on in the planning process and approval sought in good time before the planned start of the project.

The basic process for review of student projects is as set out in the Code of Practice for Research Ethics Concerning Human Participants (Non-NHS). The initial review of projects will be undertaken by the supervisor, with any potential problems flagged up with the departmental ethics officer. If the project is deemed to be more than minimal risk, it must go the Departmental Ethics Officer, whence it may be referred to the College Research Ethics Committee.

Learn more about the ethical assessment and approval of student/postgraduate research projects:

Assessment of student applications for ethical approval

The same criteria will be applied in scrutinising student/postgraduates projects as are used for staff research projects as set out in the Section III of the Code of Practice for Research Ethics Concerning Human Participants (Non-NHS).

Where the proposed research involves more than minimal risk, the application should be referred to the Departmental Ethics Officer for further scrutiny.

The supervisor should work with the student/postgraduate in preparing an application for submission to the Departmental Ethics Officer through the Online Ethical Approval Form (University computer username and password required). However, if the project is deemed to involve more than minimal risk and in a situation where re-submission/re-drafting of the project may not be appropriate, it may be referred to the College Ethics Committee for full consideration.

Supervisors or Departmental Ethics Officers (if the project has been referred to them) may refer back to a student/postgraduate to amend and resubmit if there is inadequate detail or the ethical implications of the project have not been thought through.

Research ethics training for students

Where undergraduate and postgraduate students are likely to undertake research involving human participants as part of their course, they must receive appropriate discipline-specific research ethics training during their degree programme. Such training should also be supported by appropriate direction by their supervisor.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students must be made aware of the subject of research ethics and the need to comply with the University’s Code of Practice for Research Ethics Concerning Human Participants (Non-NHS). In the case of overseas students, using online resources to support ethics training may be appropriate (though every attempt must be made to also provide a forum for training and discussion of ethical issues when the student is on campus).

General approval of taught modules/courses

It is envisaged that in some exceptional situations in which it is routine practice within a taught undergraduate or postgraduate module to undertake some basic research on an annual basis, then an Exceptional General Approval may be given.

A Course Director/Head of Department may make an application to the relevant Ethics Sub-Committee for an Exceptional General Approval. The Course Director/Head of Department will be required to fill in an Word Exceptional General Approval Application Form (DOC, 70KB). This will include the research ethics checklist and will require the Course Director/Head of Department to show why such an approval should be given for this particular module/course.

It is envisaged that approval will be given in situations in which such research would be assessed as not involving more than minimal risk. Exceptional General Approval cannot be given by nominated reviewers and must be escalated to the full Ethics Sub-Committee. Once given, the approval would continue for a period of three years and then would require renewal.

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