Accessibility statement

Department of Environment and Geography Ethical Review Committee

Welcome to the Home Page of the Department of Environment and Geography Ethical Review Committee. Here you will find information on how our committee works and how you apply for ethical review of your research project. Over 2014/15 we will be making the transition to a new ethical review system, as explained in the ‘How to apply’ section – we will be providing training sessions over this period.

Applications and queries should be sent to

It is the responsibility of individuals undertaking or supervising research in the Department of Environment and Geography to bring projects that may require ethical approval to the attention of the Committee.Useful Links

Guidance on what is defined as research

The University’s Code of practice and principles for good ethical governance


Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

  • To ensure that research activities in the Environment Department conforms to highest ethical standards
  • To consider cases where there might be potential involvement in unethical practice arising in the context of consultancy, outreach or research (e.g. in relation to the funding, conduct, dissemination, collaboration or application of these activities), to offer guidance and advice to Heads of Department and individual members of staff on these cases, and to refer cases that raise substantive issues to the University Ethics Committee, as appropriate
  • To approve any projects involving human participants (who may be adults or children), human data (e.g. surveys and questionnaires on issues such as lifestyle, housing and working environments, attitudes and preferences), animals or other organisms, following statutory procedures where these apply, and to refer complex or difficult cases to the University Ethics Committee, as appropriate.
  • To remain aware of national and international requirements and standards for ethical review (e.g emanating from funding bodies) and to disseminate these appropriately within the department/subject area.
  • To report annually to the University Ethics Committee on the business undertaken by the committee, providing a statistical overview of the work of the committee and drawing attention to any general issues.

Agreed by the Environment Department Ethics Committee

Mode of Operation

How the Committee Operates

The Ethics Committee meets formally once or twice per year but applications for Ethics Committee approval may be submitted at any time.  An initial decision on applications will be reached within two weeks. In our experience, applicants should submit their Ethics Application at least four weeks before they wish to start collecting data. Students must not submit their application directly to the Ethics Committee but via their supervisor who should first check it. We do not need signed paper copies of applications but by submitting an application the supervisor or PI thereby assumes responsibility for the contents of the application.

Applications and queries should be sent to

It is the responsibility of individuals undertaking or supervising research in the Environment Department to bring projects that may require ethical approval to the attention of the Committee.


Collaboration with other institutions

If members of staff are involved in research or teaching activities led by a Principal Investigator from another institution and ethics approval has been granted by that institution, it will not normally be necessary to obtain additional ethics approval from the Environment Department Ethics Committee. However, the Environment Department Ethics Committee requires that a copy of the application to the sponsoring institution be submitted to the Chair or Secretary who may decide to circulate it amongst the members.

Apply for Ethical Review

How To Apply For Ethical Review

Departmental Ethics Policy and Procedure

The University of York states in its Code of Practice and Principles for Good Ethical Governance that ‘all activities undertaken by staff and students as members of the University must comply with the University’s ethical standards’. All research projects undertaken by staff and/or students involving animals and human subjects must be submitted to the Departmental ethics committee for scrutiny and approval.


  1. Staff/Students should complete the Departmental ethics approval form before commencing their research project.
  2. Students should seek advice from their supervisor regarding ethical approval for their research projects. Approval should be sought in the early stages of planning the research and must be submitted to the ethics committee before commencing the project.
  3. If ethical approval is being sought for student led work then completed applications should be first submitted to the supervisor. S/he is then responsible for reviewing the form and forwarding it to the Chair of Ethics Committee.
  4. Any research that involves carrying out procedures on vertebrates or cephalopods should be submitted to the Animal and Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB) as opposed to our own ethics committee, even if the work does not require a Home Office Licence.  
  5. For those of you conducting research with invertebrates (the only exception being cephalopods) then you can submit an application as normal to our own Departmental ethics committee. 
  6. Any additional required forms, such as questionnaires, topic guides and consent forms must also be completed and submitted along with the ethics approval form. No primary data collection can begin until you have approval from the Environment department ethics committee
  7. Some types of projects will not need full ethical approval such as those that involve collecting air or water samples, and do not involve humans, animals or sensitive ecosystems.  While these will not need full ethical approval we ask all students to still complete an ethics application and submit to your supervisor who will forward it on to the ethics committee

The application form for ethics approval, as well as examples of previous applications are available on the VLE (BoS – applying for ethical review tab). Students, please talk to your project supervisor about how to complete the form and read through these sample application forms before contacting the Ethics Committee directly.

Environment Department Ethics Application Form (MS Word , 77kb)

Procedure for Review of Ethical Issues in Research (PDF , 282kb)

Lecture by Kathryn Arnold:

Ethics in Environmental Research (PDF , 439kb)

You must include finalised questionnaires and project plans with your application. Please provide as much detail as possible. For placement students who have not finalised their project then submit as much information as possible. It will then be the responsibility of you and your supervisor to notify the Ethics Committee if you make changes to the project that require ethical approval.

Email all applications and queries to