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Humanities & Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC)

Scope & Remit of HSSREC

All studies that involve human participants, their tissue, and/or their data, are required to obtain approval from an appropriate research ethics committee. It is appreciated that study designs vary greatly, and that further information may be required to determine whether ethical approval is required. Detailed guidance on whether your research requires ethical approval can be found on the below page.

Do I Need Ethical Approval

A useful flowchart to determine what approvals you will require can be accessed here.

For the majority of medical and social care research in the NHS that involves patients or their identifiable data, approval by the NHS National Research Ethics Service (NRES) is required. This service is provided by the Health Research Authority (HRA). Further information can be found on the 'NHS Research Ethics Committee' webpage and associated subpages.

All staff research from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, and Department of Psychology that does not fall within the scope of NHS ethical approval* and involves human participants or their data must be sent to the HSSREC committee for appropriate approval.

Ethics approval should be sought before the project begins. Please note HSSREC does not issue retrospective approval.

HSSREC has delegated the ethical review of student research to the department. For more information please see the Delegated Student Research page.

HSSREC grants ethical approval for projects. The seeking and obtaining of all other necessary approvals is the responsibility of the investigator. This includes obtaining HRA approval (NHS permissions) for research projects in the NHS, where this is required in addition to HSSREC approval.

HSSREC will not review or approve amendments for studies it did not originally review and approve i.e. studies originally awarded approval by an NHS REC or HSSREC. For such studies, applicants should refer to the original approving REC.

The Committee will normally only accept applications for ethical approval after funding has been awarded (in the instances where external funding is sought), except when ethics approval forms part of the requirements of a grant application.

Applicants who wish to discuss their research and/or the application process before submission should contact the HSSREC Secretary (tel: 024 765 73123 or email:

HSSREC Project/Study Triaging

HSSREC undertakes ethical review of all projects on a proportionate basis according to a risk-assessed triage process. Please click the following links for more information on each process:

Full review

Light Touch review

Full review

All projects involving the collection of primary data, or that are deemed high risk, are reviewed by the full Committee at HSSREC Committee meetings.

The Committee meets six times per academic year and applications must be submitted two weeks ahead of the meeting date (here). All applications must be supported by the signature of the Head of Department. Late submissions will not be accepted and will be deferred to the following meeting.

Applicants are not invited to present their submissions as a matter of course. However, in the event of particular issues, the Committee may request the applicant to attend to assist the Committee in its deliberations.

The HSSREC secretary will provide initial feedback on the application once this has been received and will advise if the application is valid and of sufficient quality for review at the meeting.

Applicants can expect to receive an outcome within 10 working days of the meeting.

Light Touch

There are no deadlines for receipt of light touch applications as these are reviewed outside of full meetings. It is the responsibility of the HSSREC Secretary, in conjunction with the Chair where necessary, to determine whether a study is eligible for light touch review. Where light touch applications are deemed to require a full review, they will be referred for review at the next HSSREC meeting.

HSSREC operates to a target of providing a research ethical opinion on new light touch applications within 30 working days. Please ensure you factor this into the timescales for your project.


Substantial amendments to previously approved projects are reviewed by light touch.

Advice & Support

The Research Governance Office is dedicated to aiding you with your application; our resource email account is monitored regularly, so please contact in the first instance with any queries.

Please do not approach the Chair of HSSREC directly.