QMU Research Ethics

All primary research undertaken by staff and students at QMU requires the necessary ethical approval prior to commencing any data collection.  If you have queries about research ethics at QMU please email the Secretary to the University Research Ethics Committee via the Research Ethics email address

How to apply 

All research studies conducted by staff and students at QMU requires ethical approval from the relevant QMU Divisional or University Research Ethics Committee (also known as DivREC or UREC).  Applicants are required to complete the standard research ethics application form and submit a research proposal/protocol. Depending on the type of study being undertaken, additional documentation may be required to support your application.  A checklist is included in the standard research ethics application form, and this will indicate if (and what) additional documents are required for inclusion with your submission.  

On completion of the research ethics application form and the necessary additional documentation, applications should be submitted to the appropriate committee for consideration.  Details of which committee you need to apply to

QMU Research Ethics – Application Documentation

All applicants are required to complete the following:

  • Standard QMU Research Ethics Form
  • Research Protocol/Proposal - (for students, please follow advice from your supervisor/subject area with regards to the format of your research protocol/proposal)

In addition, you may be required to complete additional supplementary forms as indicated in the checklist included in the standard QMU Research Ethics Form. Supplementary form information

If your research involves or relates to any of the following please see below for information and supporting application documentation which will be required to be submitted with your application:

  • Travel Overseas
  • Vulnerable Participants 
  • Extremism/Terrorism 
  • Use of QMU Labs or Media Equipment 
  • NHS Patients, Prisoners or NHS Staff
  • Major Invasive Procedures

Applying for External Ethical Approval 

If ethical approval is required from an external body for your study  - for example, from NHS or another research partner - you must first submit an application and receive confirmation of ethical approval from the relevant QMU Research Ethics Committee. Following this approval, and upon receipt of confirmation of ethical approval from the necessary external body, a copy should also be provided to the relevant DivREC or UREC. Please note: any study involving NHS Patients and Staff, Prisoners or participants that lack capacity to give consent must go through the NHS (IRAS, R&D) as well as the QMU process.

For more information please refer to the tabs entitled 'Research Involving Vulnerable Participants' and 'NHS Patients, Staff & Prisoners'.

Making changes to studies after ethical approval has been granted

If you need to make changes to your study after ethical approval has been granted please complete a Notification of Amendments and Changes form and submit it, along with your revised application documentation (with revisions clearly highlighted), to the Committee that originally approved the study.  

Research Involving Travel Overseas

The University has a duty of care to all who travel overseas for work and studies and needs to be assured that those travelling have fully assessed the risks and put appropriate measures into place to control the risks. The Travel Standard sets five requirements to ensure that travellers have appropriate insurance coverage and suitable support plans and supervision agreements.

The Travel Standard requires that:

  • Travellers intending to travel overseas must obtain prior approval from their line manager or supervisor before making any related travel arrangements or commitments.
  • Travellers create a Crisis24 Horizon account.
  • Travellers download the Crisis24 Horizon app, available on both iOS and Android devices.
  • Travellers complete the mandatory e-learning modules within the Crisis24 Horizon platform.
  • A risk assessment is completed for all travel overseas and submitted for approval to the line manager or supervisor.
  • Travellers or their line manager/supervisor inform Finance of the travel to ensure valid insurance. FinanceOffice@qmu.ac.uk should be emailed with the travel details: name, destination, and travel dates.

This procedure has been created for UK residents with a British Passport. Those who are non—UK passport holders should also ensure they obtain the necessary information and guidance from the country that issued the passport they are travelling on, the embassy and/or consulate.

If your study will be conducted overseas then an authorised travel risk assessment must be submitted with your ethical approval application.  

Additional Information

Health and Safety Guidance note

QMU Travel Cover Summary 2022

Research Relating to Extremism or Terrorism

The Counter-Terrorism & Security Act 2015 places a statutory duty on Queen Margaret University ‘to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. This is commonly known as ‘the Prevent duty.’ Within universities, the 'Prevent duty' refers to measures taken to safeguard members of the University community who might be at risk of being drawn into terrorism.

The possession or distribution of security-sensitive or extremism related materials by researchers can also be open to misinterpretation by law enforcement authorities, and this can put researchers at risk of arrest and prosecution under counter-terrorism legislation.

The University is developing a Security-sensitive or extremism related research policy and procedure (link to follow).

The following prompts are intended to help researchers understand whether their research may fall into the category of security-sensitive or extremism related research.

Should a researcher be unsure about whether their research could be considered security-sensitive or extremism related they should contact the Research Ethics Panel (Researchethics@qmu.ac.uk) who will arrange a confidential discussion with a member of the University Prevent Group.

  1. Could any aspect of your research relate to terrorism, extremism, terrorist or extremist organisations or groups, extremist ideologies, radicalisation or de-radicalisation?

  2. Could your research involve visits to websites that might be associated with terrorism, extremism, or radicalisation?

  3. If your research involves the observation of social media accounts, discussion fora, or similar; do you consider it likely, on the balance of probabilities, that terrorist or extremist literature may be found

  4. Could your research involve the download and/or storage of any materials relating to terrorism, extremism, or radicalisation?

  5. Could your research involve the electronic transmission of materials relating to terrorism, extremism, or radicalisation to other individuals?


Research Involving Vulnerable Participants

The following participant categories are regarded as vulnerable:

  • Under 18's
  • NHS Patients*
  • Expectant or new mothers
  • Refugees, asylum seekers or recent migrants
  • Learning disabilities
  • In custody
  • Impaired mental capacity
  • Any other condition which affect ability to connect*
  • Anyone engaged in illegal activities
  • Staff, service users, clients, premises or records, or datasets
  • Participants in an institutional context (e.g school, healthcare or custodial settings) or organisational setting (e.g business, workplace)
  • Participants in an organisation or setting in which the researcher has a past/current role or position of authority

*Please note that studies recruiting participants from these groups are also required to apply for IRAS approval following receipt of a QMU favourable ethical approval opinion.  

For further information on the required level of disclosure and whether registration on the PVG Scheme is required for your research work please see the QMU Disclosure and PVG membership guidance.  If you are/were resident in a country which is not on the UK Government list, you should also obtain a Police Check/Certificate of Good Conduct from the local police authority in the relevant country.

Major Invasive Procedures

Major invasive procedures are those where some participants are likely to find participation stressful, disturbing, or psychologically or socially harmful, and probable harm could be protracted or severe. That only a small minority of participants may respond in this manner does not render the procedure minor invasive. In addition, this also includes invasive techniques (e.g. taking blood, surgery, etc). Please email ResearchEthics@qmu.ac.uk if you are not sure if your research is major invasive for advice.

NHS Patients, Staff or Prisoners

Research involving NHS patients or prisoners.

For further information and to apply for NHS Research Ethics, R&D approval please follow this link to the IRAS website. Integrated Research Application System (myresearchproject.org.uk)


Research involving NHS Staff.

Research involving NHS staff does not require NHS ethics approval but does require NHS R&D approval. The R&D approval is done by completing the IRAS for. For further information and to apply for NHS R&D approval please follow this link to the IRAS website Integrated Research Application System (myresearchproject.org.uk)

Useful Information 

IRAS Help - Using IRAS - New Users (myresearchproject.org.uk)Research Ethics Service and Research Ethics Committees - Health Research Authority (hra.nhs.uk)

Informing participants and seeking consent - Health Research Authority (hra.nhs.uk)

Research with potentially vulnerable people – UKRI

Principles of consent - Consent and Participant information sheet preparation guidance. (hra-decisiontools.org.uk)

Use of QMU Labs/Media Equipment

Use of QMU Science labs

If you require any resources for your research project, you must complete the labs form. Please consider the techniques you may be using, any equipment, consumables, and protective equipment to support this. If you require technical support to support demonstration of any novel techniques, you must also factor this is. 

If you are unsure of the cost of any of your requirements or if the equipment/specialised rooms required are available, please contact a member of the technical team at: labbookings@qmu.ac.uk

To complete the QMU labs form please follow this link.


Use of media equipment

Media Services provides a range of audio-visual equipment and services to support students and staff. This ranges from the provision of audio-visual equipment in our teaching rooms to more specialist services such as video production, live streaming, and AV support for events. 

To hire equipment please follow this link Media Services - Home (qmu.ac.uk)for further information before emailing media staff with your request via ms-staff@qmu.ac.uk

Guidance on Research involving Deaf Signed Language Users

If you are undertaking any research in this area, it is recommended that you initially discuss ideas with an academic with expertise in this field. This might be a deaf academic from another institution or relevant staff here at QMU. Dr Rachel Mapson (rmapson@qmu.ac.uk) and Yvonne Waddell (ywaddell@qmu.ac.uk) are based within the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at QMU and will be happy to talk through the ethical implications and conduct of potential research. QMU guidance on Research involving Deaf Signed Language Users