Research Ethics

The FST Research Ethics Committee (FSTREC) oversees ethical review of proposed research that is not reviewed through research ethics mechanisms outside the University, such as the NHS Research Ethics Service.

Announcement regarding the impact of Covid 19 (Corona Virus)

If you have a project that deals with coronavirus or COVID-19, this will be fast-tracked by FST Ethics. For further guidance please see our Guide for Projects During Pandemic.

A research project being conducted by FST staff and/or research students should be submitted to the FSTREC for ethical review if it involves human participants, or other possible ethical risk factors, and is not being reviewed externally.

Before submitting a new ethics application or an amendment to an existing ethics application for review please read the university's guidance. For additional help with research and ethical considerations during the pandemic, you may find this Guidance on ethical considerations document ‌useful.

Undergraduate and taught postgraduate coursework and dissertations that involve the generation of data with human participants need to be approved before any data is generated. Responsibility for ethics review of undergraduate and taught postgraduate projects lies within the Departments.

The aim of the committee is to ensure that ethical considerations and issues are addressed in the conduct of research. The committee seeks to support and encourage the process of ethically conducted research in FST, by identifying ethical researchers rather than ethical research, to enable not block research, to maintain the safety and wellbeing of participants and researchers, to assess ethics, not the methodology, and to promote ethical values.

The committee structure includes members from many of the FST departments providing diversity in perspectives and speciality knowledge.

The review process

The FSTREC works in close collaboration with the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). However, the process is designed so that applications will undergo full review by only one committee in most cases. All applications for ethical review should be submitted to the FSTREC.

For queries prior to submission of an application:

Please click here for guidance related to using depressed people as participants.

Please click here for Guidance on using social media for research.

For questions about the logistics of the application process, or about ethical issues and application content, please contact the Science & Technology Research Ethics Officer, Tom Morley.

Tab Content: Applications

Does your research project involve any of the following?

  • Human participants (including all types of interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, records relating to humans, use of online datasets or other secondary data, observation etc.)
  • Animals - the term animals shall be taken to include any non-human vertebrates or cephalopods.
  • The risk to members of the research team, such as:
    • lone-working
    • travel to areas where researchers may be at risk
    • risk of emotional distress
  • Human cells or tissues other than those established in laboratory cultures
  • The threat to the environment
  • Conflict of interest
  • Research or a funding source that could be considered controversial
  • Social media and/or data from internet sources that could be regarded as private
  • any other ethical considerations


If you have answered YES to any of the above, we ask you to take the following steps in applying to the committee:

  1. Apply to the committee by submitting
    • The completed FSTREC Application Form.
    • All accompanying research materials such as, but not limited to:
    • Advertising materials (posters, e-mails)
    • Letters of invitation to participate
    • Participant information sheets
    • Consent Forms
    • Questionnaires, surveys, demographic sheets
    • Interview schedules, interview question guides, focus group scripts
    • Debriefing sheets, resource lists
  2. Create a single Word document of all application materials.
  3. Submit one electronic copy of the full application materials.
  4. Applications must be submitted by the stated Committee meeting deadline, to the Science & Technology Research Ethics Officer at
  5. If required, be available to attend the committee meeting, by telephone if necessary, on the day that the application is considered (this is mostly for complex proposals).

For questions about the logistics of the application process, or ethical issues and application content, please contact the Science & Technology Research Ethics Officer, Tom Morley.

The following are estimated times required for the review of ethics applications from staff and PhD students. We will do our best not to exceed these times. However, we cannot exclude that due to circumstances such as the high volume of applications or absence of committee members due to illness some applications may take longer to review.

The length of time required for each review is related to the complexity of ethical issues raised by your planned study. Furthermore, it depends on the quality of your application (e.g. have you explained clearly and in lay terms what the project aims to do) and the speed at which you can respond to requests for revisions or clarification from the reviewers. Therefore, the times given below are estimated review times, and it will likely take longer for you to receive full approval of your application.

It is entirely your, the applicant’s responsibility, to submit applications in good time so that any data collection can start as planned and only AFTER ethics approval has been obtained.

Applications requiring Chair’s action only: up to two weeks
Low-risk applications: up to eight weeks
Applications needing to be considered at Committee meeting: up to twelve weeks

Applications requiring chair’s action only are human data/secondary data applications, amendments to previously approved applications and applications that already have an external approval.

Please note that these times might be exceeded during periods of high demand and staff absences, particularly around University closure periods (Christmas and Easter) and over summer due to staff annual leave.

Tab Content: Calendar

Applications for ethics review can be submitted at any time, so please do not wait until a committee deadline to submit your application. However, if your study poses significant ethical risks, it will be considered by the committee at its meetings, and the deadlines for paperwork for each meeting are given below.

Meeting Date Deadline for paperwork
14th October 28th September
27th January 13th January
7th April 23rd March
23rd June 7th June

Tab Content: Guidance

The following provides guidance on where to find further information about issues that may apply to your project, regardless of whether you are a staff member, research student or UG/PG, applicant.

For queries relating to Intellectual Property please e-mail the Intellectual Property Team (ext. 93298)

NHS Sponsorship

If your work involves animals you will need authorisation from the Chief Administrative Officer and may need to submit an application to AWERB, please contact the secretary to AWERB, Lucy Sanderson for further details.