FHMS Ethics committee

The Ethics Committee will consider research proposals on a continuous basis by correspondence and will attempt to deal with all protocols expeditiously, but students and trainees submitting proposals are advised that it may take approximately four weeks until response, following notification that their application has been sent out to the Ethics Committee for review.

The FHMS Ethics Committee will consider applications for ethical approval from Undergraduates, Postgraduate/taught students and Practitioner Doctorate Trainees for any research projects proposing to use human participants.

Staff and Postgraduate/research students (PhD) should refer to the University Ethics Committee’s webpages.  Any other enquiries concerning ethical review at the University should be directed to the Research Integrity and Governance Office in the first instance.

Any experiment or procedure which falls within one or more of the following categories will be reviewed by the Faculty Ethics Committees:-

  • Procedures involving any risk to a participant's health (for example intrusive or invasive physiological or psychological procedures);
  • Surveys and questionnaires, the nature of which might be offensive, distressing or deeply personal for the particular target group even if individuals are not identifiable. This may include questions on sensitive data, i.e. ethnicity, political views, religion, physical or mental health/condition, sexual life/orientation and alleged offences. Please check the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2018.
  • Proposals wishing to study children under the age of 16 or adults who may feel under pressure to take part due to their connection with the researcher. Please note that you may need DBS clearance for working with anyone under 18 years of age even though those 16 and over are usually considered capable of consenting for themselves.
  • Research involving prisoners and young offenders.
  • Proposals which involve financial payments or payments in kind to participants above reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, provision of refreshments or entry into a low-value prize draw or where the compensation could amount to more than the minimum hourly wage, or £100 in total (whichever is higher), or proposals which otherwise offer incentives which may unduly influence participants’ decision to participate.
  • Proposals wishing to use undergraduate students as participants;
  • Proposals which investigate existing working or professional practices at the researcher's own place of work.
  • Research where the safety or well-being of the researcher may be in question.
  • Research which involves deception other than withholding information about the aims of the research until the debriefing.

All projects that, for example, but not limited to, studies that involve NHS patients, staff or facilities characterised by a specific disease or disorder, or their carers, adults lacking capacity to consent for themselves, investigational medicinal products/devices and ionising radiation will require NHS REC and/or HRA approval and MUST be submitted to an NHS Research Ethics Committee for ethical review and favourable ethical opinion. For queries on studies involving the NHS contact RIGO.

N.B. Once a proposal has been granted a favourable ethical opinion by an NHS Research Ethics Committee, a copy of the letter from that committee must be submitted to the Faculty Ethics Committee before the research commences. However the proposal does not need to be submitted again to the Faculty Ethics Committee, for further review and evidence of the above must be included with your dissertation.

Does my project require ethical review?

Most studies involving human or animal participants, data or tissues collected from human or animal participants require some form of ethical scrutiny. The following check and guidance is designed to allow you and your supervisor to establish very quickly whether your study will need ethical approval, and if so which form of ethical review is required. It will also allow you to discuss alternative approaches that raise less ethical concerns with your supervisor. This advice relies on ‘Ethical Guidelines for Teaching and Research at the University of Surrey’.

Please read the Self-assessment check and guidance.

Procedures for Fast Track Applications

If your study can be considered to be low risk according to the above guidelines please complete the Online Self-Assessment Form (Fast Track Application Form) together with a 500-word summary of your project.

Procedures for Proportionate Review

If your study cannot be considered low risk but has received a favourable ethical opinion from another Ethics Committee (e.g., University of Surrey Ethics committee, when you are working on a staff project; or working on a project in collaboration with an external institution), please submit an application for proportionate review and attach the confirmation of this ethical opinion (that is, a letter from the Chair of that Committee or review body) to the FHMS Ethics Committee (fhmsethics@surrey.ac.uk).

Procedures for Full Applications

If your study requires a full ethical review, you need to submit the application form below, and other documents you will need to include in your submission.

Your submission must contain all of the relevant documents listed below. Please send your proposal electronically as one attachment to FHMS Ethics Committee (fhmsethics@surrey.ac.uk).

  • Ethics Application Form (must be completed and signed for all submissions)  
  • Project Summary (included in the application form)
  • Detailed Protocol (must be included with main proposal)
  • Participant Information Sheet (must be on University headed paper)
  • Participant Consent Form (must be on University headed paper)
  • Risk assessment form
  • Insurance proforma (refer to the insurance guidelines regarding which proforma you need to complete)
  • Zurich Insurance Certificate
  • Posters and/or questionnaires (if appropriate) (please note that you must only put up posters on the University’s dedicated poster boards. Where applicable, please ensure you obtain permission from the appropriate authority’)

Please note

All correspondence from the university will be sent to your university email address. Please check this regularly for any updates.

Amendments of existing studies

If you want to introduce changes to your study after a favourable ethical opinion (FEO) for your research has been issued you should inform the FEC about any substantial changes to your study.

Use the Guidance on Amendments to help decide if your amendment is minor or substantial.

If you are considering using the Internet in your research, please be aware that it appears to offer unrestricted access to infinite amounts and types of data. However, the ethical issues surrounding the use of data and data collection methods must be adhered to. If you wish to take advantage of the Internet’s flexibility, as part of your research project, please be aware of the applications of ethical codes for conducting research on human participants on the Internet. The benefits, privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, deception and avoiding harm for your participants must be a priority at all times.

More guidance and information can be found on the website of the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR), or on the BPS website.

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 FHMS fast track application, checklist and 500 word summary. Full Faculty ethical review or in some cases University or NHS ethics review may be required. Supervisors will be able to advise on the above and the ethical integrity of a research project, as well as the reliability and integrity of its methodology. Students should allow a reasonable period of time, say 2 weeks, for their Supervisors to look at, check as above and sign off their applications but should also feel able to remind their supervisors if they haven’t heard from them within 7 days after the two week timeframe has passed.

In sum, before the supervisor can sign off an ethics application, they 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. This must be done within a reasonable time frame to ensure their students can submit their fast track applications for approval or formal applications to the Ethics Administrator for checking before being sent to the Faculty Ethics Committee for ethical review. The format supervisors wish students to submit their proposals is a matter of preference by the supervisor. This paperwork should be kept and be available for auditing purpose.

  • To consider general issues arising within the Faculty which involve considerations of an ethical nature.
  • To implement guidelines, check adherence to, and compliance with these guidelines including procedures, in relation to ethical issues which may arise from research activities within the Faculty.
  • 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 consider, respond to and when appropriate, grant a favourable ethical opinion for specific research protocols submitted to the Ethics Committee by students and trainees of the Faculty
  • To monitor accordance of research activities with current best practice and Committee stipulations
  • 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.

Contact us

  • Phone: +44 (0)1483 686700
  • Fax: fhmsethics@surrey.ac.uk 

Find us

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Kate Granger Building
30 Priestley Road, Surrey Research Park