Research Ethics for UG/PGT

Before beginning any research, you MUST complete the 'Research ethics application form for UG and PGT students'. It contains further guidance on our ethics review procedures for all UG 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.

Click here for the University's online ethics application system. Further links and documents can be found below.

Help applying

If you are applying for ScHARR Ethics you will need to apply through the online ethics system.

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.

You may need a different form of ethics approval, further information can be found below.

MPH Students must also complete and submit the Risk Assessment Form. Please also see Dissertation Research Safety Guidelines.

Help with applying  
UG & PGT Flowchart Step-by-step process for UG/PGT applications
UG & PGT Online Guide A walk through of how to use the online system for UG/PGT students
Top 10 tips Ten top tips to help you complete your ethics application
Advice on completing the application form Guidance on how to complete the University's research ethics application form - what to think about and the level of detail to include
Application Checklist Checklist of everything to consider, address and include as part of your ethics application

Useful forms and guidance

Student declaration literature review To be included in appendices where ethics approval is not required
Independent Scientific Review Form To be completed when PGT research is 'High Risk'. Ensure you discuss this with
URMS for student ethics form Step-by-step of how to create an URMS for the Student Ethics form
Dissertation risk assessment form MPH students must complete a dissertation risk assessment form. See dissertation research safety guidelines for more information
Dissertation research safety guidelines Important guidelines that apply to all students studying for their Masters in Public Health dissertation
Model consent form A model consent form to help create your own
Model information sheet A model information sheet to help create your own
Children’s information sheet Guidance on how to create an accessible children's information sheet
Specialist guidance R&IS pages on specialist issues
Safe Working Practices Guidance on researcher safety
Online survey design Guidance on research ethics for online surveys. To request use of the ScHARR Qualtrics license please contact (ScHARR staff and students only).
Health services or evaluation A useful guide to whether your NHS project is 'research', 'service evaluation', or 'audit'

Advice for supervisors

Research ethics for Supervisors Google form

UG/PGT applications do not come to the monthly REC meetings and can be reviewed by the supervisor alone, unless they are classed as high risk. Advice on whether an application is classed as high risk can be found above and in the link below.

If you have any concerns or questions about reviewing an ethics application, or whether it is classed as a high risk application, please contact

Supervisor guidance  
Guidance for Supervisors A list of essential ethics application criteria
Ethics Application Checklist Checklist of everything to consider, address and include as part of your ethics application
Questions to consider A comprehensive list of questions to consider when completing and approving ethics applications
Supervisor Online Guide A step-by-step walk through of the procedure for reviewing an application online
Checklist for ethics reviewers Checklist for reviewers of areas to consider in applications
Quick reference guide for new ethics reviewers Basic introduction to the ethics review procedure with links to further information and guidance
Guidance fact-sheet Further guidance for University Ethics Reviewers

Do I need ScHARR Ethics Review?

There are various different types of research, and you may not need to complete an online application for ScHARR Ethics Review. 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'.

Literature Review

If your supervisor agrees that your proposed research does not require ethics review, you must complete, and both sign, the student declaration. This must be included in the appendices for your dissertation.

Secondary Data

Applications involving the use of secondary data now require submission via the online system.

Select the option that your research involves only existing data. You will then proceed to a questionnaire which will determine whether full ethics approval is required or whether a shorter application may be created for the ethics administrator to generate an approval letter.

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.

If you wish to collect data using an online survey or questionnaire, you must use Qualtrics. To request use of the ScHARR Qualtrics license please contact ScHARR IT (ScHARR staff and students only).

All research projects handling personal data must include a Data Management Plan which should address data capture, integrity, confidentiality, retention, sharing and publication as per the Research Data Management Policy. There are a number of templates and examples on The University Library pages, the generic DMP template is recommended if your funder is not in the list of available templates.

Please see the ScHARR Research Information Governance pages for advice on handling research data.

All research collecting personal data must comply with General Data Protection Regulations. To comply with GDPR, participants must be made aware of the following; the legal basis for collecting their data, which organisation is acting as the Data Controller, who will act as the Data processors, how will their data be stored, when their data will be destroyed and who they may contact to make a complaint regarding the use of their data. The information sheet and consent form templates include further information including the agreed wording. This is a legal requirement. 

'High Risk' Research

A guide to what might be considered 'high risk' is provided below. If you and your supervisor decide that your research is 'high risk', your application will need to be reviewed by ScHARR's Research Ethics Committee. All high risk applications need 2 ISRs, and any amendments must be made before submitting your research ethics application to the committee. Before submitting to be reviewed by the committee, please see the monthly deadlines and meeting dates.

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.

Overseas Research

Research that will take place in another country and will involve human participants from that country may require ethics approval via an appropriate ethics review procedure in that country. A review and assessment of how local approval is obtained is an essential part of the ethical review process. Where such a procedure exists, it may not be necessary for the researcher to seek ethics approval via the University of Sheffield's Ethics Review Procedure, providing that the overseas procedure is judged to be sufficiently robust by the UREC.

See here for information on which research ethics procedures are recognised by the University as being sufficiently robust so as not to require University Research Ethics review.

NHS Ethics

f your research involves NHS patients you will require NHS Research Ethics Review (you no longer require NHS ethics review for research involving staff). This is a typically lengthy process and may take up to six months. Details can be found at:

Details of how to obtain a NHS research passport can be found here.

Health and Social Care Research Governance

If your research is a healthcare research project, i.e. involves the NHS in any way (NHS staff work time, NHS patients, NHS premises, requires NHS ethics or HRA approval) or is a social care project i.e. involves staff, carers, service users of social care provided by a local authority contract, then your project will need to be registered on the Cosing Tool so that you have a Project Code number to enter on the ethics application system. For a detailed definition of Research Governance see

Your supervisor can create the Costing Tool record for you. Information on how they do this can be found here. This is should only take 10 minutes to set up and should they require any assistance, they can get in touch with the Molly & Rosie at

Healthcare and Social care research projects need to go through the research governance procedure. Projects MUST be authorised to commence by a Research Governance Sponsor.

  • All healthcare and social care research projects need to be registered on the Costing Tool, have scientific approval and ethics approval and HRA/Local Authority approval.
  • A Study Governance Administrator must be appointed for the project to take responsibility for complicance with research governance. Notify Molly Girvan, Rosie Lynch or Vicky Madden who has been assigned at
  • For more details or what constitutes health care research and the research governance procedure, please see the following links:
  • ScHARR Health Care Research Governance Procedure
  • Research Services Health Care Research Governance