ILD | The Institute for Lifecourse Development

Research Ethics

Research Ethics & the FEHHS Research Ethics Committee

Welcome to this page outlining the processes and support available to secure ethical approval for your research. Below we outline the core processes involved in securing ethical approval, alongside useful information and resources. We hope this is of benefit to you and welcome any feedback as to how we can further support your work.

Do I need ethical approval?

If you are planning research involving human participants, non-human sentient creatures, harmful or criminal, or sensitive or extremist subject matters or research protocols, or research where the nature of the collaboration raises concerns that it may be inconsistent with the University’s values, you will need ethical approval.

The University of Greenwich has a hierarchical system where School (SREP), Faculty (FREC) and University (UREB) committees/boards feed into each other. Where you will need to secure approval depends upon the nature of your project and student/staff status. Committees only meet on certain dates throughout the year (see ‘Deadlines’ below) so effective planning is required.

For further inforamtion about the process and to see where you should apply for ethical approval, click here to access our flowchart which explains what applications FREC and UREB would consider.

Types of Research and Researcher

Pilot Studies: Unless your pilot study covers sensitive populations or themes, it can be approved by FREC alone rather than requiring full UREB approval. The University of Greenwich’s definition of a pilot study is a small-scale, preliminary study that seeks to evaluate and validate the method and/or aims of the substantive study, including feasibility, time, cost, adverse events, and sample size, in order to improve upon the design of the study. Pilot studies may increase the likelihood of success in the main study. At FREC we have localised the definition whereby the project must a) have a small sample size-to-population ratio, b) contribute feedback or development of a tool/process/material, and c) be part of a larger project so doesn’t stand alone.

Staff Projects: If you are a staff member, your projects first need to be signed off by FREC, before UREB. FREC will give you feedback. Once you have amended the work and had it approved by FREC, your work will be assessed by UREB for final sign-off.

PhD Student Projects: If you are a PhD student, your projects can be signed off by FREC unless your study covers sensitive populations or themes (in which case it will also require UREB approval). If you require any amendments to your project, please use tracked changes to your application and send this, with a supporting explanation, to FREC.

UG/PG Student Projects: Some courses feed into a School Research Ethics Panel (SREP) to secure approval. If your course does not have an SREP, your project should be submitted to FREC. Your Programme Director and Project Module Leader will be able to tell you more about this process.

Supporting External Projects: Your involvement in projects may be solely limited to sharing data collection links with Greenwich staff or students. In this case, you will need to request sign-off from the VC. UREB needs to see evidence that the project has been approved (e.g., the approval letter to the PI), information that explains the nature of the project (e.g., the original ethics application) and confirmation that the UoG researcher has been approved as a co-researcher. This should go to the FREC before it goes to UREB so the faculty is aware of the project. The project with the external approval doesn’t need to go through a separate UoG ethical approval process.


All staff and students submitting proposals to UREB, and all PGR supervisors should evidence completion of the two online Epigeum modules before they submit their ethical proposals.  The modules are ‘Becoming an ethical researcher’ and ‘Research ethics in practice’. Epigeum account registration is required: at:, using your university email: Entry restricted access token: a3cac962


Research Ethics documentation can  be found here.

Applications to UREB/FREC should be made using the latest template here. All materials and documentation for your project should be combined into this single document. This includes participant information, consent, debrief, recruitment, stimuli, and materials. Once the document is complete, you can email it to FREC at or UREB at

When preparing your ethics application, you may also find useful our templates for:

Research is a collaborative endeavor so to learn from others, below we’ve shared a few examples of ethics applications that have negotiated some ethical complexities successfully (examples to follow shortly).

All applications working with human participants require a Risk Assessment.

UREB/FREC Decisions

UREB and FREC officers will advise you of the decision made on your project. The four possible outcomes are a) Referred (e.g. to UREB or NHS Ethics), b) Approved (in which case your project can now begin), c) Amendments required (you will need to complete amendments and resubmit your application) or d) Disapproved (when the proposed work is considered too problematic). Most applications will be asked to make amendments, so try to see this decision as an opportunity to learn and reflect.

Deadlines for 2023/24

Deadline for FREC Applications (5.00pm)

FREC Meeting Dates

Deadline for UREB applications to be sent to UREB for approval

UREB Meeting Dates

13 September 2023

20 September 2023

5 October 2023

19 October 2023

8 November 2023

15 November 2023

21 November 2023

6 December 2023

17 January 2024

24 January 2024

30 January 2024

13 February 2024

17 April 2024

24 April 2024

30 April 2024

14 May 2024

5 June 2024

12 June 2024

18 June 2024

2 July 2024

Chair’s Actions are only used to support research projects which have exceptional circumstances and timeframes that don’t align with these deadlines, however, please note that these are infrequent and are subject to chair approval.

Additional Support