Research ethics for UG/PGT

Before beginning any research, you MUST complete the School's 'Research ethics application form for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students'. It contains further guidance on our ethics review procedures for all Undergraduate and Masters degree programmes and fully explains how you obtain ethics approval for your research.

You must not begin any research until you have ethics approval from the School.

The University┬┤s ethics web pages contain important information on research ethics procedures for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students. It is useful to read this before completing the Schools form:

If you are unsure whether your proposed research requires an ethics review, you must discuss this with your dissertation supervisor.  You can also complete the University┬┤s ethics 'Application checklist'.

The University's on-line ethics system can be accessed at the link below and some help documents can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page:

How long does research ethics approval take?

You and your supervisor work on your submission together and when you are both satisfied that the ethical and academic requirements are met, your supervisor can approve your application.  Your supervisor will make recommendations through the online system and send these back to you as required. Once your supervisor has approved your application you will be automatically sent a formal letter confirming this and can start your data collection.

Which form do you need?

Literature Review

If your supervisor agrees that your proposed research does not require ethics review, you must complete, and both sign, the student declaration, which is found in the down load box to the right.  This must be included in the Appendices for your dissertation. 

Secondary Data

If you are doing research on an existing data set, you need to complete the components of the student declaration that are relevant to the use of secondary data. Your supervisor agrees and approves the use of secondary data and the form is included in your appendices. 

Primary data collection

If you are doing primary research, which is research involving interviews or questionnaires, you need to complete the UG/PGT application form through the online system above. 

University Research Management System (URMS) for student research

If your research is a healthcare research project, i.e. concerned 'with the protection and promotion of public health' and involves human participants in the NHS (patients, NHS staff) and/or outside the NHS (e.g. healthy volunteers) and may have an impact on the quality of healthcare services, then your supervisor will need to register your project on the URMS system so that you have an URMS number to enter on the ethics application system. (For a detailed definition of Health Care Research' see Your supervisor can either approach Louise Norman or Mari Bullock on to create the URMS, or do it themselves (see download on the right 'How to create an URMS for student healthcare project') . The information required is: Student's name, project start date, project end date, name of research governance sponsor (usually University of Sheffield, but occasionally a Trust); title of project; whether Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught or Postgraduate Research.

MPH Students must also complete and submit the Risk Assessment Form found in the download box on the right.  Please also see Dissertation Research Safety Guidelines.

'High Risk'

A guide to what might be considered 'high risk' is provided below.  If you and your supervisor decide that your research is 'high risk' than you submit your application form, ISR forms (these are found on the staff and PGR website), and accompanying documents via the online system.  Your application form will be considered at the next Departmental Research Ethics Committee. 

Research may be defined as high risk which involves the following:

Particularly vulnerable participants;

Infants and children under 18 years of age;

People with physiological and/or psychological impairments and/or learning difficulties;

People dependent on the protection or under the control/influence of others (e.g. children, pupils, people in care, young offenders, prisoners);

Relatives of sick people (e.g. parents of sick children);

People who may only have a basic or elementary knowledge of English.

Highly sensitive topics

Race, ethnicity, political opinion, religious beliefs/other beliefs of a similar nature, physical or mental health or condition, sexual life;

Abuse (child, adult); nudity; obesity;

People affected by conflict situations (e.g. ethnic, religious, tribal conflicts/wars).

Covert observation.