Research Ethics

University Research Ethics Committee (UREC)

The University is guided by the fundamental principle that research involving humans and/or animals and/or the environment should involve no more than minimal risk of harm to physical or psychological wellbeing.

The University Research Ethics Committee oversees the ethical conduct of research, in line with the University’s Code of Practice Governing the Ethical Conduct of Research, referred to from herein as the ‘Code’.

The University Research Ethics Committee has delegated authority to Faculty Research Ethics Committees (who in turn may have delegated to Departmental Research Ethics Committees) for consideration and approval of certain types of research (as defined by the Code). A simple table shows you the routes an application for Research Ethics Approval should take, depending on classification.

The University Research Ethics Committee also has responsibility to oversee the training and development of staff and students in the area of Research Ethics. Further information can be found on the staff intranet (University log-in required).

Application process and forms for research ethics approval

The process for consideration and approval within the University can be found in Addendum A of the Code.

Applications to all internal Research Ethics Committees for all University of Westminster Staff, Doctoral Researchers, Postgraduate Taught Students and Psychology Department Undergraduate Students should be made via the Virtual Research Environment system (Research Ethics Section) using University log-in credentials.

All undergraduate students (except Psychology Department) should access the electronic application documentation (University log-in required).

Information on research which involves an external organisation or which requires research ethics consideration and approval from an external organisation, or management permission from an external organisation, can be found in Sections 2.6. and 6. of the Code.

Information on the University application process for ‘sponsorship’ by the University (University log-in required; under the Department of Health’s Research Governance Framework, 2005).

Staff applying for research grants

Staff should take into account guidance from the relevant external and/or professional body to whom they are applying for a grant as well as the University’s Code, as early as possible in the process in order to give full consideration to research ethics and research good practice issues. Further information can be found on the Research Councils UK web site as well as in Addendum A4 of the Code. The University advises all researchers considering research ethics to familiarise themselves with the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Framework for Research Ethics.

Useful resources and tool-kit for applicants

The University recommends all researchers at all levels to be familiar and follow the guidance for research ethics and research good practice of their relevant professional bodies. The University expects its researchers to conduct its research ethically and the University is concerned to protect the rights, dignity, health, safety and privacy of research participants, the welfare of animals and the integrity of the environment. The University is also concerned to protect the health, safety, rights and academic freedom of researchers and the reputation of the University as a centre for properly conducted, high quality research.

The resources and tool-kit for applicants (University log-in required) is designed to help facilitate such high quality ethical research by its researchers, and includes a number of resources including, exemplar Participant Information Sheet, exemplar Consent Form, Security Sensitive Research Guidance, Fieldwork Risk Assessment Guidance, Checklists etc). Other University Research Governance documents and guidance can be found on our Research framework pages.

Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty Research Ethics Committee

The Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty Research Ethics Committee (SSH FREC) is responsible for the ethical approval system for research specifically across the Faculty.

To support staff and students when preparing their ethics forms, SSH FREC have produced the following two documents containing advice for staff and students regarding the ethics application process. The information in these documents is specific to the Faculty for Social Sciences and Humanities:

Postgraduate and doctoral students, as well as staff, must complete their forms on the VRE. To do so, please log on to the VRE, click on ‘My Ethics Applications’ and then on ‘Create a New Project’.

Please note that postgraduate students starting their course in September must submit the ethics forms in relation to their dissertation by 31 May of the following year, while January starters must submit them by 31 September of the same year.

Undergraduate students must use the forms available on the intranet (only accessible to staff) and then ask their module leader or supervisor to email the ethics forms and related documents on their behalf to Ashley Morton (if it is Part A only, i.e. not requiring ethics approval by FREC) – copying in Professor Marco Roscini (Chair of FREC) when there is also Part B (i.e .requiring approval from FREC). We aim to respond within three weeks from receipt.

Please note that, if research is carried out outside University premises, you will need to complete and submit a risk assessment form. If your research involves participants, please also complete and submit a participant information sheet (PIS) and a consent form.

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Graduate School

The Graduate School at the University of Westminster is home to our doctoral researchers.