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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 that requires ethical approval involves one or more of the following characteristics:

  • intervention or interaction with, or observation of, human participants, for purposes of collecting data
  • collection or review of individual-level administrative data
  • collection or review of sensitive or non-anonymised data from social media platforms
  • possible risk to the safety or wellbeing of the researcher
  • a potential impact on animals or the environment
  • a potential risk of significant reputational damage to the College
  • requires an individual to step outside accepted regulatory or legal norms.

If you are unsure whether your research needs ethical approval, you should speak to your supervisor or  early on in your research planning process. It is important you seek advice early on, as you will not be able to start your research before receiving approval. 


To apply for ethical approval, please download the Ethics Form from Moodle. Once completed, please . If you are a student, you are required to discuss the ethical issues with your supervisor and ask your supervisor to review the form before you submit it. 

More detailed guidance on the ethical review procedure in the School of Law is available on Moodle. In preparing your ethics application, you may also find it helpful to look at Birkbeck’s guidelines on research with ethical implications and ethical review checklist.

Once your application has been submitted, it will be considered by either the School Research Ethics Committee or (if it is classified as extremely sensitive) by the College Ethics Committee. You will then be told if you have been granted ethical approval, or if any amendments to your research plan or further clarification is required.

If you are a student and require any further help, please contact your supervisor or .


Data collection involving in-person interaction with human participants is currently permitted only for postgraduate research (PGR) students and staff and only where it is not possible or practical for the data collection to be undertaken remotely.

There are additional questions to answer on the Ethics Form E1, for those proposing to undertake in-person data collection. Currently, undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are not permitted to conduct in-person data collection.