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Ethical Application

Ethical approval is mandatory, not optional, if you are conducting research which requires you to interact with humans and/or human tissue. This includes surveys; questionnaires; interviews; psychology studies; case studies as well as invasive testing, and this applies to Undergraduate Honours, Masters and PhD students as well as members of staff. You must obtain ethical approval in the form of an approval letter and associated code before proceeding with your research and you will be required to bind a copy of your formal approcal into your dissertation or thesis prior to submission. In addition, many journals now require evidence that ethical approval was granted in association with the work prior to accepting papers for publication.

If you are in any doubt whether this applies to you, you must seek guidance from your Supervisor or your School Ethics Administrator.

Application Forms

The standardised University templates must be used for your supporting documentation. Where you feel that one or more documents are inappropriate for use in your research you should provide clear justification in Q31 of the application for either not using a document or for modifying it to meet your research requirements.

NOTE: the forms marked '2018' below have already been updated in relation to new data protection legislation. Those not marked 2018 are scheduled for update as soon as possible: if using these documents in the meantime please consult your School Ethics Committee.

Ethics Application form 2019 (Word, 176 KB)

Ethical Amendment Form (Word, 96 KB)

Template supporting documents

Applications should be submitted to your School Ethics Committee secretary. If your application is not signed by your Supervisor, your application form will be returned to you and this will impact upon the timeframe for ethical approval. Your school may require both a hard copy and an electronic copy of your application and you should consult the SEC secretary in advance. If your School/Unit does not have an ethics committee, you should submit your ethical application, together with all supporting documentation, to UTREC for review and approval. Ethical approval is awarded for a period of five years, however extensions, not exceeding 6 months, can be granted at the discretion of the School Convener.

On occasion, research unavoidably takes a different course to that which was originally intended and for which you have obtained approval, or sometimes you will need to modify your proposed project to meet your research requirements. In these instances, you must submit an Ethical Amendment application for review by your School Ethics Committee, and you should also remain in communication with your Supervisor in such instances. Ethical Amendment applications should also be used to add or remove researchers from an ethical application.

Ethical Application Guidance and Help


UTREC word cloud


UTREC Office

College Gate
St Andrews
KY16 9AJ
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 462368


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