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Apply for ethics approval

This page explains the process of applying to AHEC for ethics approval.  If you have any questions about the process, email or the Committee chair, Dr Keith Allen for clarification.

1. Researcher completes the appropriate submission form and accompanying documentation

There are three forms for submission of applications for approval - the Full Submission Form, the Standard Submission Form and the Non-Anonymous Interview Checklist. It is up to the researcher to determine which form to complete at the outset, using the following guidelines:

Research involving vulnerable groups, sensitive topics or deception

For research that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Involves vulnerable groups e.g.:
    • Children
    • Those with learning disabilities
    • People with mental impairment due to health or lifestyle
    • Those who are terminally ill
    • Recently bereaved
    • Those unable to consent to or understand the research
  2. Concerns sensitive topics / illegal activities
  3. Uses deception
  4. Requires a DBS check

you should use the Full Submission Form

AHEC Full Submission Form (MS Word , 3,448kb)

Low risk research

For research that does not involve vulnerable groups (see above), sensitive topics or deception and is low-risk, i.e.:

  • Small scale evaluation and audit work
  • Non-invasive research

You should use the Standard Submission Form

AHEC Standard Submission Form (MS Word , 3,439kb)

Non-anonymous interviews

For interviews that are low-risk, with members of non-vulnerable groups, and where participants do not require anonymity, you should use the Non-Anonymous Interviews Checklist.

 AHEC Non-Anonymous Interviews Checklist (MS Word , 54kb)


2. Researcher submits the form with accompanying documentation to the appropriate approver

The appropriate form must be submitted, together with all accompanying documentation (e.g. information sheets, consent forms) to the appropriate person for approval:

  • the applicant's supervisor (if the applicant is a postgraduate student)
  • the applicant's Head of Department or Departmental Research Chair (if the applicant is a member of staff) 

Information Sheets and Consent Forms

For guidance on producing information sheets and consent forms, see the Guidance and Useful Links page. 

To comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you need to use the template information sheet AHEC template information sheet for personal and special category data (MS Word , 20kb) if you are collecting:

  • 'Personal data’: any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person. 
  • Special category personal data’: personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or trade union membership or the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purposes of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation. 


3. Approver submits the form with accompanying documentation to AHEC

The approver should check the form and accompanying documentation, discuss them with the applicant, and suggest revision or improvements where appropriate.  Once they are satisfied with the application, they should insert their name and date in the 'Statements' section of the form and then send the form and accompanying documentation to AHEC at by email attachment (preferably as a single pdf document).  

Ethical approval for undergraduate projects is dealt with at departmental level, and undergraduate students should apply for approval according to the procedures set out by their department.  However, if the proposed project presents particularly complex ethical issues (for instance, it concerns terrorism or political extremism), the applicant’s supervisor should submit the application to AHEC for approval. 

Ethical approval for low-risk work on postgraduate taught (PGT) modules excluding the Dissertation in the Departments of English and Related Literature, History, History of Art, Music and Philosophy should be provided by the Department’s Ethics Officer. 


4. Committee responds

The committee will respond to submissions within a maximum of four weeks, but will endeavour to respond sooner than this.  The applicant should not start the research until approval has been given.  

The committee will respond by email once the submission has been reviewed.  The response will indicate whether the application has been

  1. approved
  2. approved but with advisory comments to be considered
  3. approved subject to mandatory changes being made and approved by the committee
  4. not approved.