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Research Ethics

Much of the research proposed by staff and students in the School of Law will require ethical approval before it can be carried out.

Research which requires ethical approval involves one or more of the following characteristics [Source: Birkbeck Responsibilities and Procedures for Ethical Review] :

  • intervention or interaction with human participants;
  • the collection and / or study of data derived from human participants;
  • a potential impact on animals or the environment;
  • a potential risk of significant reputational damage to the College; or
  • requiring an individual to step outside accepted regulatory or legal norms

To apply for ethical approval for your research, please download and complete either of these forms, depending on the likely extent of ethical issues arising from your research; and email the form and any supporting documents to your supervisor (if you are a student) or otherwise to the School Ethics Officer Professor Michelle Everson, copying in Susan Quarrelle (Assistant School Manager/Research):


Frequently asked questions

Does the Law School Research Ethics policy apply to students too?

  • Yes, this policy also applies to Law School students doing research.

I'm not sure whether my research needs ethical approval – what should I do?

  • Not all research will need ethical approval but we expect much will. If you have read the guidance above, and are still unsure, seek advice from the Law School Research Ethics Officer (SREO) early in your research planning process.

Can I start my research before I get ethical approval?

  • Absolutely not. This is why it is important to seek advice early at the research planning stage.

Do you really need all this information about my project?

  • Yes, we need all the information we ask for on the form.  Note there are two versions of the form, if your research has minimal ethical implications you should complete the shorter form E2.

How do I know if my research has minimal or substantive ethical issues - i.e. which form to use?

  • We would regard research to have substantive ethical issues if it involved vulnerable participants; any deception of or risk to the participants; or any risk to the researchers (for example, unchaperoned visits to offenders). This is not an exhaustive list.  The College Ethical Review Checklist will be useful to identify the ethical challenges in your research.

Where do I submit my form?

  • Submit the form to your supervisor, if you are a student; or direct to the School Research Ethics Officer (SREO) Professor Michelle Everson (please remember to copy in Susan Quarrelle, Assistant School Manager/Research):

What happens after I submit my form?

  • SREO will either grant approval or refer the application to the appropriate Ethics Committees (at School or College level) depending on the classification of your research as routinesensitive or extremely sensitive.  You will be kept advised of the progress of your application if it is not considered routine.

Where can I get further help?