University ethical approval

Here at The University of Manchester there are five possible routes of ethical review and approval: 

  1. Division/School review: Low risk student projects only
  2. Proportionate University research ethics committee (UREC) review: Low risk staff or student projects
  3. Full University research ethics committee (UREC) review: High risk staff or student projects
  4. Health Research Authority (HRA) approval (including NHS REC)
  5. Both HRA and UREC approval 

To help determine whether your project requires formal ethical approval, please use the University’s ethics decision tool. Important note: please use Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari to access the tool, it is currently not working in Google Chrome. If after using the tool you still have specific queries about your project, please contact your Ethics Signatory.

Does your research require ethical approval?

  • Evaluation (including course evaluation, service evaluation or teaching evaluation)
  • Market research

The University of Manchester does not normally require formal ethical review for these activities provided the following criteria are met: 

  1. The data is completely anonymous with no personal information being collected (apart from their name, their publically available contact details and a record of consent);
  2. The data is not considered to be sensitive or confidential in nature;
  3. The issues being researched are not likely to upset or disturb participants;
  4. Vulnerable or dependant groups are not included;
  5. There is no risk of possible disclosures or reporting obligations. 

Research involving interviews with participants on subjects deemed to be within their professional competence


    Items 1-5 above (note that item 1 can include an audio recorded conversation provided the transcript is fully anonymised and the recording then deleted);
  2. The subject matter is limited to topics that are strictly within the professional competence of the participants. 

Audit of Data/Secondary data analysis 

  1. Items 1 and 2 above;
  2. You are able to provide explicit consent from the data controller to access the data;
  3. You are able to prove that the data will be used for a purpose which falls within the remit of the original consent provided by data subjects. 

When an ethical review is required

An ethical review will be required in the following circumstances, where research involves:

  1. the collection or use of person-identifiable or special category data;
  2. the collection or use of data which is classed as sensitive or confidential;
  3. the use of audio/video recordings or photographs;
  4. vulnerable groups, including children or adults with special needs;
  5. the ingestion (by whatever means of delivery) of any substance by participants;
  6. any invasive/semi-invasive procedure or the administration of drugs;
  7. the physical testing of participants or the use of medical devices;
  8. the use of psychological tests or interventions;
  9. privileged access to clinical or personal records, or access to potential volunteers on the basis of their being or having been patients, or the invitation to volunteers to divulge facts about themselves which they would not wish the investigator to allow to become known to other persons;
  10. any form of physical risk, distress, embarrassment, anxiety, stress, fatigue or inconvenience to the participant;
  11. any form of adverse effect on the personal, social or economic well-being of the participant;
  12. social sensitive topics;
  13. uncovering or is likely to uncover illegal or potentially harmful activities.