Skip to main content

Ethics Committee



All research involving human subjects or human subject data must undergo an ethical review before respondents are recruited and fieldwork commences. Research undertaken within the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is generally reviewed by one of two ethical committees. If your research is in the field of health/social care, involves health/social care services users, patients or staff, needs to access service user/patient/ staff data, or involves taking tissue samples or testing medical interventions, your project will most likely require an ethical opinion from a HSC Research Ethics Committee. Full details of the application process (including guidance for applicants and details of the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)) can be found on the Office for Research Ethics Committee (ORECNI)

All other human subject research undertaken within the school is reviewed by the School Research Ethics Committee (SREC).


The remit of SREC is to ensure that all research carried by students and staff under the auspices of the School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work has undergone ethical scrutiny and has gained approval prior to commencement.

Committee Members:

Andy Percy (Chair)

Jennifer Hanratty

Janet Anand (Vice Chair)

Davy Hayes

Eileen Gray (Secretary)

Berni Kelly

Michelle Butler

Anne Kouvonen

Emma Calvert

Siobhan McAlister

Nicola Carr

Benny McDaniel (Lay Member)

Teresa Degenhardt

Katrina McLaughlin

Paula Devine

Audrey Roulston


Please contact the committee chair or members should you have any questions regarding and ethics application.


Guiding Principles

All school staff involved in the collection of primary data or the analysis of secondary data (either as the Principal Investigator on a research study or the supervisor of UG of PG student research) are responsible for ensuring that ethical approval has been granted prior to commencement of the research (i.e. you have received confirmation from the Chair or Vice Chair of SREC stating that the study has been approved by SREC).

No delay to the research process should be caused by SREC procedures, unless approval is not given.

Feedback from SREC will be sensitive and constructive, especially if a problem prevents approval and will indicate how the proposal could be improved to secure approval. The committee is only able to reach one of three decisions when reviewing applications (full approval, approval with minor amendments, and return to researcher for serious amendment)

Proposals that involve out-of-the-ordinary processes/circumstances or that cannot be processed because of disagreement within the Committee are reviewed by the Head of School and School Management Board. Where appropriate they may be referred to QUB Central Research Committee or OREC (out-of-the-ordinary processes or circumstances might include working with vulnerable people or children on sensitive topics, using deception or exposing participants or researchers to potential harm);

All business transacted by the Committee is strictly confidential.


Guidance documents and application forms

Undergraduate Research Ethics Approval Form: This is the form that UG students should submit along with a summary of their methodology and a discussion of the ethical issues involved in their study (please see the UG dissertation module guide for further details).

QUB Policy on the Ethical Review of Research. This document provides an overview of QUB policy on School Research Ethics Committees (SREC) and the ethical review process.

SSP&SW Guidance on applying for ethical approval (Staff & PGR). This is a short summary of the ethical application process. It also contains word versions of all the various forms.

Investigators Checklist (Gov 2 Form) . This form will help Principal Investigators (PI) decide if your research requires ethical approval, and if so, which ethics committee has jurisdiction over your research (i.e. the SREC or ORECNI).

Peer Review Flow chart.  This document provides an overview of the peer review processes recommended by the School Research Ethics Committee.

Peer Review Form (Gov 1) . If your study does not have a formal peer review (e.g. one undertaken by the research funder) you will need to obtain two peer reviews from colleagues (see Research Governance web pages for further details). Please use the GOV 1 form. This is does not apply to undergraduate or postgraduate research where separate peer review processes have been established.

Ethics Application Flow Chart.  This document provides an overview of the peer review processes recommended by the School Research Ethics Committee.

Full Peer Review Form (Gov 4). If a study requires ORECNI approval and has not undergone a formal Peer Review then Principal Investigator will need to obtain two full peer reviews using the Gov 4 form. For SREC studies submission of a full peer review form (Gov 4) is not essential, the submission of completed Gov 1 summary forms (x2) is sufficient. However, if peer reviewers wishes to provide more detailed feedback to a PI, or if PI require a more detailed review and feedback, reviewers may use the Gov 4 form even when the study is to be reviewed by SREC.

SREC Applicant’s check list (Staff &PGR).  This provides a checklist of the documents usually submitted as part of an ethics application.

Staff and PGR Application Form. This document should be completed when requiring ethical review of a staff or PGR study (Masters and PhD).

Staff and PGR Application Form (annotated). This version of the Staff/PGR application form contains advice on how to complete the document, in particular what is expected within each section and when it is appropriate to skip sections.

Staff and PGR Application Form (secondary analysis). Please complete this version of the application form if your research is a secondary analysis study.


Sample Participant Information and Consent Form (1) 

Sample Participant Information and Consent Form (2)

Sample Verbal Consent Form

Ethical considerations

The ethical issues that should be considered for each application include:

Requirements for participant information,

Risks and benefits to participants,

Kind of consent sought (informed, active, passive, consent/ascent)

Privacy and confidentiality,

Participant compensation,

Conflict of interest,

Researcher safety.


Research Governance

The ethical review of research sits within a broader research governance framework. Research governance is about having a range of regulations, principles and standards of good practice to maintain the integrity of the research conducted within the University. Governance and integrity are essential to ensuring that the rights of research participants are safeguarded, that researchers have considered their own vulnerabilities when undertaking the research and risks to themselves and research participant are managed.

Further details on the University’s Research Governance Framework can be found at These pages also provided further details on such topics as indemnity, sponsorship, peer review, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and the HSC R&D Application Gateway.




NSS Web Banner Static Horizontal