School of Biology Ethics Committee

Information about research ethics

All research projects involving vertebrates and cephalopods at the University of St Andrews require ethical approval. This includes studies involving live and dead animals or material from animals, purely observational studies, and data analysis projects even if data were collected by other researchers or institutions, including museums (see

Similarly, ethical approval is mandatory if you are conducting research which uses human participants and/or human tissue. This includes surveys, questionnaires, expert elicitation, interviews, psychology studies, case studies, sports science studies, as well as invasive testing. It is fundamental to the policy of the University Teaching and Research Ethics Committee that retrospective approval is not permitted for research involving humans (see

These requirements apply to Undergraduate Honours, Masters and PhD students as well as members of staff. Ethical approval from St Andrews is still required even if projects are being led by other institutions, or have been approved by the relevant committee of those institutions, or by other review boards, such as the NHS.

The Biology SEC meets in the first half of each month, with a deadlines for applications falling at the end of the preceding month. Consideration of the need for ethical review should occur early in the research planning process and researchers should allow six weeks from the end-of-month deadline to obtain approval, in case multiple rounds of revision are required.

The SEC will make every effort to support cases where rapid review is genuinely unavoidable, but requests for rapid turnaround resulting simply from a failure to engage with the ethical review process in good time and/or without convincing explanation of the need for rapid review cannot be accommodated.

Applications should use the forms linked to below (please make sure you are using the most up-to-date form, as they do change regularly). Submit applications as email attachments to the Biology SEC email account:

Any questions or uncertaintities about ethical review can be addressed to the relevant Convenor:


Additional Information

Further details and guidance, as well as information on University policies relating to ethical review can be found at