College of Science Research Ethics Committee (REC)

College of Science Research Ethics Committee (REC)

The COS Research Ethics Committee provides a strategic overview of research ethics and governance issues within COS and in relation to other Colleges and the University.

The committee is represented by members from each department within the COS. Each department also has a sub-committee who review ethical applications from their respective departments.

The remit if the committee is to ethically review all research on human and animal* participants or where an environmental risk has been identified (When conducting research outside the UK, ethical permissions should be sought locally as well as through the College Research Ethics Committee). 

(*=As defined by ASPA 2012)


  • Research by staff or students which requires NHS research ethics scrutiny - applications will be elevated to this level if required
  • Research by staff or students which requires Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB) ethics scrutiny - applications will be elevated to this level if required
  • Research which does not involve human or animal* subjects (such as a review of literature)
  • Research using publicly available data
  • Personal reflective practice based work

Guidance on applying

The COS online ethics system should be used for ALL proposed projects to determine whether further ethical review is required by the COS Research Ethics Committee or AWERB. 

Instructions for student projects for the use of the online system are available here:  Instructions for student projects

Instructions for staff projects for the use of the online system are available here:  Instructions for staff projects

Ethical review timeline

Applications made to COS Research Ethics Committee are reviewed on a bimonthly basis (nearest working day to the 15th of the month and the last Friday of the month).

The committee have one week to review the application. If it is approved, a green light and approval number will be provided via automatic email and you can begin your work. If it is not approved you will be invited to re-submit after addressing the ethical concerns raised by the committee. 

You will receive an email when the review is complete.

Committee membership

The committee is comprised of a body of staff members within the COS with relevant expertise (e.g. knowledge of the use of animals in scientific research, human studies and environmental risks), including the secretary of the committee.

Research Integrity

Full information and the University's guidelines regarding research integrity can be found here

Research Governance and Research Conduct Complaints

For queries on Research Governance please contact

Participants should be informed of their right to complain about research misconduct and may do so by emailing

Contact COS Research Ethics Committee

Use the links on the side to find further information or please contact:

Frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to get ethics approval to do this project?

All staff and students are required to complete the self-assessment on the COS intranet system prior to any data collection. The answers to the questions in the self-assessment will determine if further ethical review is required by the COS Research Ethics Committee. If no further review is required a green light will be shown on the system and a unique Approval number will be supplied via email.

Research interviews and questionnaires can raise issues which participants find distressing to talk or think about. Does this mean I can't use interviews or questionnaires to do my study?

The possibility that your participants could become upset in the course of your interviews or questionnaires does not mean you cannot use these data collection methods. What you will need to do, however, is to make sure you have the support, knowledge and skills to help someone if they become distressed. This may include both listening skills and written information on services which are available locally to provide longer term support for individuals. In your application for ethics approval, set out your plans for what you will do if a participant becomes upset.

For further advice see the following guidance notes:  Participant distress

Do I need to ask my participants to sign a consent form? Some people are put off if you ask them to sign something.

You must obtain formal, written consent from participants. There may be exceptions with certain kinds of anonymous questionnaires, where completion of the questionnaire is taken to indicate consent. This may be the case where questionnaires are accessed via a web link (e.g. Survey Monkey) or with postal questionnaires the respondent signifies their consent when they return the questionnaire to you. 

Download an Example of the Participant Consent Form Here: Participant consent form