Research Ethics

The guiding ethical principles governing all research within Aberystwyth University are the following:

  • Respect for the rights, safety and well-being of all human participants and animals
  • Respect for other cultures, values, traditions and the environment around us
  • Honesty, integrity and professionalism at all times

We encourage all researchers to refer to the Research Ethics Framework as a starting point. However, if you still have unanswered questions, please contact the Research Ethics team who will be pleased to help. We can also able to provide advice on the correct approvals process for you to follow, advice on the drafting of applications and to discuss any potential research topics or ideas that you may have.

Policy and Framework

Research Ethics Framework

The framework contains operational guidance in relation to research ethics and its associated processes. Please familiarise yourself with the relevant sections of this guidance in the first instance. If you require any advice or support, please contact us.

Research Ethics Framework

Research Ethics & Integrity Policy

The policy sets out what is expected of all researchers conducting research at Aberystwyth University. 

Research Ethics & Integrity Policy (under review)

Applying for Ethical Approval

All research, whether it involves human participants or not, must undergo a recognised form of ethical scrutiny at the point in which a proposal has been finalised and research must not commence without the relevant ethical approval.

If you are unsure of the type of approval you will require or if you would like advice in the development of your proposal, please contact us to discuss.

Step 1: Complete an Assessment

At the minimum, an assessment must be carried out for all research proposals through the online assessment form. You will then be required to submit an application to one of the AU recognised internal review bodies, such as the Research Ethics Panel (REP), Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) or the Sponsorship Panel (prior to submission for external review).

You can access the online ethics assessment form: HERE


Projects that pose limited ethical issues may be eligible for review at a Faculty / Departmental level. Once an assessment has been completed, this will automatically be sent to the Faculty / Departmental reviewer to assess. 

For staff and PGR students, the review will likely be conducted by your Associate Dean of Research. Whereas for undergraduate and taught PG students, this will commonly be reviewed by your supervisor or module co-ordinator.

All researchers should also carefully observe any local (departmental) procedures, as some departments undertake a further ethical review of proposals.  

Please remember that a research ethics review is only one component in the set-up of a successful research project. If your reviewer confirms that no ethical review is required beyond the completion of an assessment, you must still ensure that:

  • All project documentation (e.g. consent forms and participant information sheets) is of a sufficient standard.
  • All other internal and external processes and procedures are adhered to before you commence your research activities. 
  • For students, this will require working closely with your supervisor.

Step 2: Obtain Approval

Where a proposal is required to obtain ethical approval, this will usually be obtained from one of the following approving bodies:

The Research Ethics Panel (REP) is the main internal University review Panel which reviews a broad range of research areas and topics. It is the primary Panel responsible for reviewing and granting ethical opinions on projects at all levels, from undergraduate through to staff, across the University.

Terms of reference: Here

The Sponsorship Panel has oversight of all externally approved (through the Health Research Authority and Health and Care Research Wales) research studies and trials. It reviews requests and conducts governance checks for sponsorship prior to any application being submitted to an external ethics or regulatory body.

Terms of reference: Here

The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) is responsible for considering and monitoring the University’s compliance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) by undertaking an ethical review of all research projects involving protected animals.

Terms of reference: Here

Research Ethics Panel (REP)

The Research Ethics Panel has an important role in ensuring the highest ethical standards and scientific merit of the sub-set of research proposals it reviews. The role of the REP is to provide a collective and independent review to ensure that research projects conform to internationally and locally accepted ethical guidelines, with an emphasis on:

  • Protecting the dignity, rights and well-being of participants and researchers alike;
  • Balancing risk (including reputational risk) in a manner which is proportionate to the intended procedures;
  • Ensuring quality, rigorous research that is of potential benefit to participants, science and society.

The work of an Ethics Panel does not associate itself with the avoidance of high-risk research and should therefore not be considered as a barrier, but rather as a facilitative, consultative and enriching process. The Panel meets regularly throughout the year and dates can be found below.

Click here to download an application form: Research Ethics Panel Application

See: Research Ethics Panel for further information on the process.

Sponsorship Panel

Some research studies are unable to be reviewed by a University Ethics Committee and must be submitted for external review. This includes:

  • Studies involving NHS staff, data, patients, premises or resources;
  • Studies involving participants in a social care setting, including adults who lack mental capacity;
  • Studies involving participants in the prison, probation or justice service;
  • Studies funded or sponsored by the Ministry of Defence.

Please first read section 2.3.7 of the Research Ethics Framework and then visit the External Approvals page for further information. You should also refer to the Health Research Authority / Health and Care Research Wales web pages for more details on the overall approval process.

If this is the first time that you will be making an external application or if you are not responsible for obtaining the relevant approval (i.e. if you are a project co-investigator), please contact: for advice.

As part of the application process, each application will require a sponsor. Where AU is to act as the sponsor, it is required to undergo an internal governance review before submission. This review is undertaken by the Sponsorship Panel. For further details on obtaining sponsorship, please visit the External Approvals page.

Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB)

All research procedures involving animals is strictly governed by the UK Home Office in line with the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). It is essential that all projects are in receipt of the appropriate licence and have received an appropriate level of ethical review and / or be in receipt of a Home Office licence before they can commence.

Please see the animal ethics webpage for further details.

Resources, Training and Contact Details

Contact us

If you have any queries, please contact:

Lisa Fisher

Research Ethics and Integrity Training

In order to ensure that we continue to strive for the highest standards of ethics and integrity when conducting research, the university offers training to all staff and students. It is essential that researchers can demonstrate an awareness of the ethical implications of their research.

Training for staff

Epigeum Research Integrity Module

It is strongly advised that all research active staff complete the Epigeum training course for research ethics and integrity.

It is mandatory for all members serving on ethics committees or staff undertaking supervision for PhD student research to complete the Epigeum training course for research ethics and integrity. It is also mandatory for all PhD students to complete this course during their first year of study.

The course consists of modules which facilitate learning of the important aspects of undertaking research. The University advises that three core modules should be completed.

Once you have completed the course please download the certificate available and keep this for your records. Completion of the course will be monitored.

To visit this course, follow the instructions on accessing the Epigeum modules on research integrity and research ethics.

Training for students

Epigeum Ethical Research Module

It is strongly advised that all students should complete this module before their third year of study. 

All students will receive further instructions and guidance about how to access this course through their department and blackboard.

You can also visit this course and follow these instructions to access the Epigeum modules on Ethical Research.


We may also be able to offer bespoke sessions for departments - please contact us with your requirements. 

Additional Resources:

Guidance on Guidance on GDPR & Research Ethics

Publication and Authorship Guidance

Research Ethics Panel Appeals Policy

Research Misconduct Policy

(Security) Sensitive Research Policy and Procedure‌ 

Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy

See our Research Integrity web page for further information