Teaching module applications

Ethical applications can be submitted, by staff, for taught modules where students complete low-risk research. This means the School ethics committee (SEC) need not review and approve applications from every student on the module, as they would a normal application.

Teaching module ethical approval is granted for one year in the first instance and can be renewed up to a maximum period of five years - see the section below on 'Approval duration, expiry, and renewal'.

When can teaching module applications be used?

Teaching module applications can be made when students taking a taught module will all be conducting the same type of low-risk research and using the same broad methods and procedures. Applications can only be made for a single module. 

Students undertaking distinct research projects, or whose plans deviate significantly from the module approval, must each submit their own application to their SEC.

How to apply for teaching module approval

To apply for teaching module approval, module coordinators should send a completed ethical review application form (Word) to their SEC, detailing:

  • the module code
  • approximately how many students will be completing activities covered by the approval
  • what research the students will be required to do
  • what methods they will be using
  • what paperwork will be used (for example, versions of the template documents tailored for the specific module)
  • how participant consent will be obtained.

Module coordinators completing an application should consider this exemplar application from the School of International Relations, which uses an approach commended by UTREC as best practice: IR teaching module ethical application exemplar (PDF) .

'Practice' ethical application forms for students  

Completing an ethical application form can help students think through the ethical issues involved in research and prepare them for future applications.

Therefore, where module approval has been granted students should still be asked to complete an ethical review application form (Word):

  • These should be reviewed by the module coordinator.
  • These should be stored in MMS to allow applications to be recalled for audit or monitoring. 
  • If the module coordinator has any concerns, the application should be escalated to the SEC. 

Approval duration. expiry, and renewal

Ethical approval for teaching modules is given for one year. 

Renewing an approval

Module coordinators can renew their approval for another year by submitting a Teaching module ethical approval report form (Word) to their SEC, detailing:

  • The number of student projects conducted under the approval.
  • Brief details about the student projects.
  • Any deviations or amendments to the ethical issues, methods or project details. 
  • Any ‘lessons learned’ or unexpected events that have occurred.

If these are already well accounted for in the original application and there have been no additional issues encountered, the details entered may be very brief (i.e. a sentence or two).

Once the report is received, reviewed and approved by your School ethics committee a new approval letter will be issued with a new approval expiry date. 

Your SEC may request further details, for example to see student practice ethics applications or more information about the projects or techniques used. If the SEC has any concerns they may require you to submit a new ethical review application. 

If you need to make changes to your approval, you must submit an ethical amendment application to your SEC.  

Duration and expiry

The report should be submitted in sufficient time to ensure any new module cohort is covered and research activity does not take place when the approval has expired. If you have missed the expiry date, speak to your SEC.

Teaching module approval can be renewed up to a maximum total period of five years (in line with other types of ethics approval) before a new full ethical review application form must be submitted. This includes years where the module has been inactive. 

Inactive modules

There may be times where a module is not taking place but it is anticipated that the module will resume in a subsequent year. 

In these instances:

  • a Teaching module ethical approval report form (Word) should be submitted at the end of the active year (as if the approval were being renewed)
  • the module coordinator should contact the SEC when the module is due to resume
  • if the previous report is present, and the SEC have no other concerns, the SEC can issue an updated approval letter with a new expiry date
  • A new full application may be requested by the SEC, at their discretion, if
    • a report for the most recent active year is not present
    • it has been several years since the module was last active
    • they have any other concerns
  • After five years from the first approval date, regardless of any inactive periods, a new application must be submitted.