City Research influences and inspires
  1. Research impact
  2. Statistics and facts
  3. Research areas and groups
  4. City's research strategy
  5. Research integrity
  6. Ethics
  7. Images of Research 2020 Competition
  8. City Doctoral College
  1. External approvals

External approval for research ethics

Depending on who your participants are and the setting of your research project, you may need to apply for ethics approval from an external research ethics committee. Below is some information about instances when City research ethics committees are unable to review your study.

External research ethics committee approval

If your research project does require external approval, you will not need to get ethical approval from City. However, you are required to register your project on Research Ethics Online by selecting 'start a new application or register a project'. The registration will also ensure that your study is covered by City's insurance policy.

Note that only authorised signatories are able to sign off applications to external research ethics committees. Students should note that, in most instances, this does not include their supervisor.

The following are authorised to sign off applications on behalf of City:

  • Heads of Departments
  • Associate Deans for Research
  • Deans of Schools

You will need to include a letter from the Sponsor (City) with your application that confirms that City is willing to accept the responsibility of the study. This provisional indemnity letter will be generated automatically and emailed to the applicant after the project has been registered on Research Ethics Online.

There may be some local variations on the processes outlined above. Please contact your local REC for further information.

Research approval from an NHS REC

If the study will recruit patients and/or relatives or carers through the NHS, or access their medical records or personal details, approval from the Health Research Authority (HRA) will be required. Guidance on how to make an application can be found online, the application form here, and information about the HRA assessment here.

You can use the HRA decision tool to establish if you require HRA REC approval.

Research involving participants that fall under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

If the research study involves participants (16 years old & over) who fall under the Mental Capacity Act (2005) who are unable to give informed consent, for example, but not limited to, people who may have a degree of learning disability or mental health problems, which means that they are unable to make an informed decision on their own behalf; then an application to an authorised HRA committee must be made, regardless of whether or not they are NHS patients.

Guidance on capacity in adults can be found online here and here

Research involving prisoners, youth offenders or probation services

If the project is with Prisons or Probation Trusts an application to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service will be required. Please refer to HMPPS website for more information.

Note that the NOMS approval process extends to research in Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and their subcontractors, Young Offenders’ Institutions (YOIs), but excludes research in Secure Training Centres, Secure Children’s Homes or with Youth Offending Teams – applications to conduct research in these areas should be directed to the Youth Justice Board.

Research requiring approval from the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee

The ethical review of research funded by or sponsored by the Ministry of Defence, or research carried out by third parties on UK Armed Forces Staff is carried out by MoDREC.

Research requiring approval from the National Social Care REC

Social care research does not require review by the Social Care REC if it is reviewed by another committee operating in accordance with the ESRC's Framework for Research Ethics, unless specified or the research involves NHS patients or service users as research participants.

A review is required if there is a legal requirement for REC review e.g. under the Mental Capacity Act. Student research within the field of social care should ordinarily be reviewed by a university REC.

Human tissue

City does not have a Human Tissue Licence.

A HTA licence is for storage of relevant material for use in research, not for the use itself.

Under the Human Tissue Act 2004, storage of ‘relevant material’ (material from a human body consisting of or including cells) for scheduled purposes in England, Wales or Northern Ireland requires a licence from the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). The scheduled purposes include research in connection with disorders or the functioning of the human body.

The HTA does not approve individual projects or license research activity itself but the organisations that store human tissue for research, including the following activities:

  • Removal of relevant material from the deceased for the scheduled purpose of research.
  • Storage of relevant material (from both the living and the deceased) for the scheduled purpose of research.
  • A licence is not required for storage in connection with a specific research project with approval from a REC. This exemption does not apply to tissue banks storing relevant material for use in future research. Where voluntary application is made to a REC for ethical review of a research tissue bank, a copy of the licence will be required by the REC as a condition of a favourable opinion.

For further information is available on the HRA website.