Research Ethics

The University of York Code of Practice and Principles for Good Ethical Governance states that 'All academic activities which have an ethical dimension should undergo formal ethical review and signoff'.

The department regards all academic work involving human subjects to be an activity containing an ethical dimension. This includes staff and student research, masters and undergraduate dissertations, and student film and television productions. You need to check whether Ethics Approval is necessary and get the approval if so, before you start work on the project.  Your project (including filming) will be delayed if you have not had approval from the Ethics Committee before you start.

Do I need Ethics Approval?

  • If your work only involves interviewing participants who are willing to be identified (ie do not require anonymity) and who are non-vulnerable individuals, fill in the Non-Anonymous Interview Checklist (MS Word  , 35kb). If you have answered ‘no’ to everything on the checklist, you do not need to fill in an ethics clearance form. 
  • If you are a student working on an independent project, fill in the Ethics Clearance Checklist (Student Independent Projects) (MS Word  , 31kb). If you have answered ‘no’ to everything on the checklist, you do not need to fill in an ethics clearance form. 
  • If your project changes after you have ethics approval, you must email the Ethics Committee at to explain what has changed and confirm whether there are new ethics issues. If there are none, you do not need to complete an ethics clearance form.

If your work does not fall into any of the above descriptions, you need to get Approval for your project from Ethics Committee.

Obtaining Ethics Approval

If you require ethics approval for your work, you need to seek it by submitting a completed Ethics Clearance Application. There are TWO types of Ethics Clearance Applications: StandardFull application.

  • Standard Ethics Form (MS Word  , 48kb) is intended for use by researchers planning small-scale evaluation and audit work, and non-invasive research. 
  • Full Ethics Form (MS Word  , 3,426kb) is intended for use by researchers planning to engage with research which require greater ethical consideration, such as projects involving: 
    • Children, or young people under the age of 18
    • People with learning difficulties or disabilities
    • People with mental impairment due to health or lifestyle
    • People who are terminally ill
    • People who are recently bereaved
    • People unable to consent to or understand the research
    • Sensitive topics / illegal activities
    • Deception
    • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
  • Most applications will also need examples of your consent form and participant information sheets to be submitted for approval. Please see the “Further Guidance and Example Applications” tab for more details.

If you’re not sure which form you need to complete, contact your supervisor. Staff should contact Ethics Committee for clarification.

All ethics applications must be emailed to the Chair of the Ethics Committee at at least TWO WEEKS prior to the commencement of the project. You should receive feedback within 2 weeks, but this may be to request changes to your application, and not approval for you to proceed.

All student applications MUST be first discussed, reviewed and signed off by their supervisor prior to their submission. 

Further Guidance and Example Applications

We have created additional guidance on creating participant information sheets and consent forms:

If you are collecting personal or special category data, you must use the following template for your participant information sheet which includes statements regarding how data will be used and stored to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018

Examples of good practice in the submission itself and accompanying documentation: