Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

FASS Ethics Committee

Welcome to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Ethics Committee (FASS EC) webpage. This webpage has been designed to assist undergraduate and post graduate taught students and staff in the Faculty to ascertain whether their research requires the seeking FASS EC favourable ethical opinion (FEO) before it is undertaken.

If you experience any difficulties in processing your research, or you have questions about any aspect of the process, please do let the FASS Ethics Committee know by means of an email to FASSethics@surrey.ac.uk.

Staff and Postgraduate Research Students

Staff and Postgraduate Research Students research projects are overseen by the University Ethics Committee, rather than the Faculty Ethics Committee.

The complete process is laid out on the University Ethics Page.

Why do we have an ethical policy?

Originating with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, researchers have had their procedures guided by set principles in order to protect all those involved in the research process, including the research participants and the researchers themselves.  These principles are laid out in the following declarations, agreements, regulations and acts.

  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Human Tissue Act 2004
  • Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (amended 2012)
  • Members of the university community need also to act in accord with laws, policies and declarations governing university activities in an international context, for example:

Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences falls under the remit of the University’s Ethics Policy, that details the principles and procedures that underpin the promotion and maintenance of an ethical research culture throughout the University. 

The policy emphasises and encourages our core values of innovation, passion, collaboration, openness and curiosity. It also highlights the core elements of the concordat to support research integrity: honesty, rigour, transparency and open communication, and care and respect.

FASS and the University of Surrey aim to safeguard and promote respect for the rights, interests and well-being of:

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Research participants and subjects (both human and animal)
  • Fellow citizens and communities, in local and global contexts

FASS and the University also aim to preserve the physical environment and social and historical artefacts engaged with by University staff and students.

All activities undertaken by staff and students as members of the University must comply with the University’s and Faculty’s ethical standards.

The ethical standards which apply to academic activities (including research, teaching, consultancy and outreach work) arise from the basic principle that such activities should neither include practices which directly impose a risk of serious harm nor be indirectly dependent upon such practices.

Serious harms include, for example, failure to respect the interests of people and damage to items of cultural value or the natural environment.

Does my research/project require ethical review?

All projects require some form of ethical review, whether that’s a self-assessment, full review or proportionate review, although the process differs depending on whether you are a faculty or postgraduate research student, or an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student.

You can access the FASS Ethics Self-assessment online form here.

For more information on this, please visit the University’s main research and ethics page and scroll down to ‘Does my project require ethical review?’ and ‘Applying for ethical and governance review’ sections. 

Why does my research need ethical review?

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students

Undergraduate and Post-graduate taught students must complete the FASS self-assessment fast track checklist. This is the first step for both the student and supervisor to establish whether the project requires ethical approval.

Academic research is based on undertaking research of merit as well as maintaining the integrity of the academic discipline. It is important that there is a clear line of accountability if there are breaches of ethical requirements or the research protocol has not conformed to required ethical standards. As such, the designated authority for granting a favourable ethical opinion (FEO) must be clear.

Specific requirements are:

  • Protection of participants - i.e. to eliminate, mitigate, reduce any potential harm as a consequence of their involvement in research
  • Competent supervision
  • Protection of students and researchers from possible harm
  • Obligation to obtain and record appropriate informed consent from research participants or appropriate other (parent or guardian in the case of a minor)
  • Maintenance and preservation of confidentiality
  • Volunteered participation
  • Identification and remit of levels of authority in granting a FEO
  • Protection of the reputation of the academic institution.

FASS EC guiding principles are:

  • Reasonableness (a lay person would judge the procedure sufficient for purpose)
  • Manageability (limit administrative record-keeping to its practicable minimum)
  • Robustness (provides a sufficiently thorough and workable system fit for purpose)
  • Accountability (places the responsibility for ethical conduct of the proposed research with the supervisors and students/trainees). The procedure has been designed as an opt-in process whereby supervisors assess the ethical requirement of the research for which they are responsible.

If the proposal carries any risk and/or the research involves any of the following, then a formal ethical opinion is required:

  • Any risk to volunteer’s health or well being
  • Items included within a survey/questionnaire which may be potentially offensive, distressing or personal to a particular target group
  • Payment or benefits in kind given to participants or prize draws
  • Participants are students or members of university staff
  • Participants associated with students’ profession or place of work

Read more detailed information on what elements of research may trigger the need for a Favourable Ethical Opinion.

What are the Supervisor’s Responsibilities?

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to guide the student, and ensure the research design is sound and within a well generated research topic. In consultation with the supervisor, the student will complete the FASS self-assessment fast track checklist. Faculty ethical opinion or in rare cases University or external ethics review. Supervisors will be able to advise on the ethical integrity of a research project, as well as the reliability and integrity of its methodology.

In sum, the supervisor will need to make three assessments: the soundness of the research design, the risk loading of the research and which level of ethical opinion is appropriate. The format supervisors wish students to submit their proposals is a matter of preference of the supervisor. This paperwork should be kept and be available for auditing purpose.

Risk Loading

In accordance with the University guidelines, the dissertation supervisor carries a further responsibility to establish any risk factors attaching to the proposal, the participant or the investigator e.g.

  • Location of the data collection
  • Vulnerability of the potential participants
  • Sensitivity of the subject matter
  • Payments to participants

How do I Submit a Formal Ethics Request?

Guidelines For The Preparation Of A Submission To The FASS Ethics Committee For Approval Of Study

General Instructions

  1. All investigators should read the University of Surrey Ethical Guidelines for Teaching and Research before submitting a proposal to the Committee, and where appropriate, refer to the Policy and Guidance Notes on the Donation and Use of Human Specimensin Teaching and Research in the University of Surrey for all trials involving blood or other human specimens.  Researchers undertaking clinical trials should also refer to the University of Surrey Ethics and RIGO guidelines.
  2. The Ethics Application Form should be completed and returned with your detailed protocol, and all other relevant documents, to the Ethics Committee. No action in respect of facilities and dates should be taken until FASS EC favourable ethics opinion has been obtained. The detailed protocol and supporting documents should be submitted via email to fassethics@surrey.ac.uk  Guidelines for the completion of the Ethics Application Form can be found here.
  3. The FASS Ethics Committee Approval Certificate relates to your specified research protocol; the Committee should be notified of any changes to the proposal, any adverse reactions, or if the study is to be repeated using a different group of research participants. The Committee should also be advised when your research project has been completed.

Accompanying Documents

All submissions should include the following documents:

  • A summary of the project, (approx. 500 words), including its principal aims and objectives
  • A completed Ethics Application Form for the project (guidance)
  • An Information Sheet for participants (guidance for what should this includeTemplate
  • A copy of the Consent Form for participants (guidance for what should this include)  Template
  • A completed Protocol Submission Pro-Forma: Insurance  Template.  All sections should be completed; sections not appropriate to your submission should be identified by ‘N/A’.
  • A copy of Questionnaires and Interview Guidelines (guidance for what should this include)
  • A copy of Proposed Correspondence (guidance for what should this include)
  • In instances where a proposal has received the prior approval of another Research Ethics Committee (REC), the Faculty Committee will accept the submission in the form of a completed Ethics Application Form, together with the documentation submitted to the REC, and  written confirmation of their approval.

If applicants require further information or advice, they should contact the Faculty Ethics Committee, Email: FASSethics@surrey.ac.uk

FASS Ethics Committee

 The FASS Ethics Committee is guided by the following terms of reference:

  • To consider general issues arising within the Faculty which involve considerations of an ethical nature.
  • To consider, respond to and when appropriate, grant a favourable ethical opinion for specific research protocols submitted to the Ethics Committee by UG and PG (T) students of the Faculty.
  • To report on the process and procedures of the Committee and make recommendations to the University of Surrey Ethics Committee on key matters of policy and strategy.
  • To be available for consultation and advice on such ethical issues and best practice by individual members of staff, students or trainees of the Faculty.
  • To implement guidelines in relation to ethical issues which may arise from research activities within the Faculty.
  • To monitor accordance of research activities with current best practice and Committee stipulations
FASS Ethics Chair Dr Robert Kreuzbauer
School/Dept. Faculty Ethics Committee Members
Surrey Business School Dr Robert Kreuzbauer
School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Dr Jason Stienmetz
School of Law Dr Bo Wang
School of Literature and Languages Dr Helen Hughes
School of Economics Prof Neil Rickman
Department of Music and Media Dr Jeremy Barham
Guildford School of Acting Dr Jacquelyn Bessell
Department of Sociology Dr Giulia Berlusconi
Department of Politics Dr Louise Thompson

Useful Links

University Applications (also provides information on NHS review)

British Psychological Society

HM Prison Research Application

Safety in qualitative fieldwork


Research projects that involve the NHS’s patients and/or staff will require legal sponsorship in accordance to the UK Research Governance Framework.  Please contact RIGO (ethics@surrey.ac.uk) at your earliest convenience to discuss the requirements.