On behalf of the Heads of Law and Criminology, the department has established the following procedure for the screening of all research activity undertaken by students (this includes UG, PGT and PGR).

Research definitions and procedures

If your research is secondary (data) research as per the definition below or is primary research that does not involve human participants then please sign the declaration on your dissertation approval form confirming this. No further action is required.

Primary (data) research

Primary research involves the generation of new knowledge.  If it involves human participants it DOES require ethical approval.  This includes questionnaires, interviews and focus groups.

Secondary (data) research

This research does not involve direct or indirect contact with participants but uses data in the public domain to generate new knowledge. Typically it will include a literature review, documentary or other media analysis. 

It does not require ethical approval, but nevertheless should be conducted in accordance with copyright law, avoid plagiarism (as in any other academic activity), and comply with good practice.

If your research involves human participants either direct or indirect then you should read the Department of Law and Criminology’s Ethical Policy Protocol and Risk Assessment and complete the School's Risk Assessment Form and the Department’s online Ethical Approval Form:

Your completed risk assessment must be uploaded and submitted through the online Ethics Application Form.

Dissertation title approval form

This process requires you and your supervisor to confirm that you have agreed on an appropriate title for your dissertation project and that you have considered whether there are any ethical considerations or risk assessments required. If your project does require ethical considerations and/or a risk assessment please see below for further details and inform your programme administrator immediately.

Considering whether you need to submit

This process requires you and your supervisor to confirm that you have agreed on an appropriate title for your project and that you have addressed any ethical considerations and risks.

There are four possible outcomes for this process:

  1. Your research falls within the standard parameters described in the School's ethics template on the online Ethics Application form and you are free to undertake your research, providing you abide by the conditions set out in the template.
  2. Your research will take place outside of the EU and therefore a full University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) application will have to be submitted. Note that undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are not permitted to undertake projects that require UREC approval.
  3. Your research does not fall within the templates, ethical approval cannot be granted by the School of Law and you will need to complete an application form for approval of the research project for submission to the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). Note that undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are not permitted to undertake projects that require UREC approval.
  4. Your research will involve NHS patients or staff, or working on NHS premises or your research involves adults who cannot consent themselves due to limited mental or physical capacity and approval must be sought via an NHS Research Ethics Committee. Note that undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are not permitted to undertake projects that require approval via the NHS Research Ethics Committee.

In ALL four cases you must complete the Online Ethics Application Form and complete a Risk Assessment Form.

Please be aware that if your research requires School ethics approval and you later wish to change the title of your dissertation, you must request permission from your dissertation supervisor. In addition you must submit an amendment to your ethics application with regard to the change in dissertation title request. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that they have the relevant ethics approval for their research and corresponding research title.

Risk assessment, checks and applications

The ethics template requires you to make a risk assessment of your project.

You may also need to get a DBS check for your research. Note that this can take up to 6 weeks. Ethical approval is conditional on obtaining a satisfactory DBS check.

When you have completed your ethics application, if required, this is reviewed in the School. The course administrator will then email you to confirm whether you have the approval or not.

All ethics applications must be submitted online and a copy of your completed risk assessment must be attached to your online ethics application.

After you have submitted your form, you may still change the title of your project with the agreement of your supervisor. You must also inform your administrator in the Teaching and Student Support Office of your request.  If a change to the title has ethical or risk implications, you will need to complete and resubmit another form for ethical approval. The Teaching and Student Support Office will confirm if your title change has been approved.

If it is decided that your research project does NOT fall within these Law templates or your research is being carried outside the UK, you must apply for full ethical review by the University Research Ethics Committee. Please note that undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are not permitted to undertake projects which require UREC approval.

University Research Ethics Committee (UREC)

For all ethics applications which require UREC approval, the online Ethics Application Form will direct your application to UREC automatically, through your answers to the questions on the form.


Ethical approval must be obtained in order for your insurance cover to be effective. Also if your project involves specific kinds of risks (usually related to medical research), you may need to get special approval from the University Insurance Office. 

Find out more about insurance, cover and claims on StaffNet:

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

If you complete an ethical approval form for a project that involves working with under-18s (or adults with learning difficulties), you will need to obtain a satisfactory DBS enhanced check.

To do this please contact:

Susan Rowe
Teaching and Learning Assistant
Tel: +44 (0) 161 306 1100

She will give you a DBS application form and instructions on how to proceed. Make sure she knows that you are from the Department of Law or Department of Criminology (within the School of Social Sciences).

When completed, she will send the forms off. Both you and she will get a reply from the DBS (this can take about 6 weeks).

Susan Rowe will then notify the relevant person in the Teaching and Student Support Office that a satisfactory DBS disclosure has been received for you.

Any ethical approval you may have received before this point is conditional on the relevant office receiving this notification.