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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

How to apply for research ethics review at BSMS

BSMS > Research > Support and governance > Governance and ethics > How to apply for research ethics review at BSMS

How to apply for research ethics review at BSMS

On this page you will find information on preparing an application and how to apply online, the standard risk review and how to book a review slot for your application.

Further advice and support is available from Caroline Brooks, BSMS Research Integrity Ethics and Governance Administrator (

Sarah Newbury and researchers in white lab coats, standing in a lab and consulting a text book together

Preparing an application

If you are a BSMS researcher or working with human subjects elsewhere in our partner universities – and if you think your research would be best assessed by the Research Governance and Ethics Committee – please contact Caroline Brooks, BSMS Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Administrator, to discuss your study before submitting an application:

For general enquires, information on meeting dates and submission deadlines – as well as to book a slot for the review of your project at a meeting – please contact the RGEC on

Download the checklist tool for applicants here >

Booking a review slot for your application 

A review slot at a scheduled committee meeting must still be booked in for applications for ethical and governance review submitted via the online system.

The committee receives a high volume of applications from faculty and students and it is essential to book your application in for review before a meeting submission date.

Please contact RGEC at to book a slot for the review of your application at a meeting.

Your application to RGEC should be timed well in advance of the proposed start date of your project. Committee meetings are held on a quarterly basis and project proposals should be submitted by the deadline date (please see tables below).

BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee and Sub-Panel meetings 2021/22

Submission deadline Meeting  Meeting date 
 18 August 2022  Committee   8 September 2022
 22 September 2022  Sub-Panel  13 October 2022
 20 October 2022  Committee  10 November 2022 
 17 November 2022  Sub-Panel

 8 December 2022

 2 January 2023  Sub-Panel  19 January 2023
 19 January 2023  Sub-Panel  9 February 2023
 16 February 2023  Committee  9 March 2023
 23 March 2023  Sub-Panel  13 April 2023
 20 April 2023  Committee  11 May 2023
 25 May 2023  Sub-Panel  15 June 2023
 29 June 2023  Sub-Panel  20 July 2023
 27 July 2023  Sub-Panel  17 August 2023
student pointing at a computer scan of organs

Applying online

An online application form for research projects seeking ethical and governance approval via the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) was launched on 11 May 2017 and is accessible via Sussex Direct here.

The online system is now the sole method of applying to the committee. Applicants will need to log in to Sussex Direct then select the Research tab followed by Ethical Reviews. A comprehensive User Guide is included with the online form (and below) to assist applicants. Please see Frequently Asked Questions, which offers answers to common queries. Further advice and support is also available from Caroline Brooks, BSMS Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Administrator.

Please note: BSMS RGEC is a University of Sussex research ethics committee which solely reviews ethics applications proposed by BSMS staff and students, and does not have the jurisdiction to review external studies falling outside its remit. Studies must therefore be submitted by a member of BSMS staff or a student. Researchers should contact Caroline Brooks, Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Administrator, if they have any questions:

Download user guide >

Download FAQs document >

A Word version of the online application form for applying to RGEC can also be downloaded. It provides a template for Staff and Postgraduate Research students preparing an application which they may wish to share with their collaborators, research team, or Doctoral Supervisors, in advance of submission.

Download Word version >

Templates for Preparing an Information Sheet and Consent Form 

Templates which you can adapt for use with your research ethics application. 

Participant Information Sheet Template >

Consent Form Template >

Interview Consent Form Template >

Verbal Consent Template >

Applicants should note that standard written consent is not always appropriate. Researchers need to be aware that consent should be appropriate to the project and the participants and seek guidance and further advice as required.


All requests for amendments to committee-approved projects (excluding clinical studies with university sponsorship) are now submitted via the online system. This includes minor and substantial amendments as well as amendments to studies approved prior to the introduction of the online application form. The User Guide offers clear guidance on this process.

Download the amendment form >


Standard risk review

Following extensive development and user testing, the online ethics application system in Sussex Direct for applying to the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee, has been adapted to include a separate review pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught student research projects judged as posing minimal risks.

BSMS’s new standard risk pathway will launch in Sussex Direct on 6 July, bringing the Medical School in line with all Cross-School Research Ethics Committees operating across the University of Sussex.  

The ethics application system, within Sussex Direct, will now identify Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught student projects which are deemed standard risk, using an in-built risk assessment checklist. It has been deliberately designed to introduce quicker turnaround of ethical review for student projects presenting fewer risks to participants.

Expedited review for these projects will occur via the School Research Ethics Officers (SREOs), a new role at BSMS which is jointly fulfilled by Dr Trevor Welland and Ceri Butler in the Department of Medical Education. 

In parallel, the applicant’s Supervisor will become an integral part of the reviewing process, first confirming online endorsement for their student’s application prior to submission to the SREO for ethical review.  The system will generate emails to alert staff that an application requires their review.

Professor Val Jenkins, Chair of the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee commented: “This has been an extensive undertaking for BSMS RGEC, but one which we trust will make the process for applicable projects a lot swifter and also more efficient for students and their supervisors. A special thanks goes to Caroline Brooks for her indefatigable efforts to see this to fruition.”

It's hoped that the new process will be viewed as a positive development for the Medical School. Professor Malcolm Reed, Dean of BSMS, added: “The new process not only aligns BSMS with the University of Sussex's Cross-School Research Ethics Committees, but with many other universities by implementing stratified ethical review and more user friendly processes for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught student research, whilst ensuring our students learn about the importance of ethics and ethical principles in research. I am very grateful to Professor Jenkins and the team for implementing this change under challenging circumstances and also to the ethics committee as a whole for all the work they do to ensure that our research is undertaken under the highest ethical standards appropriate for each individual project.”  

All ethics applications (Staff, Postgraduate Research Student, Postgraduate Taught Student and Undergraduate Student) should continue to be made using the online ethics application system in Sussex Direct, which is available here.

The review pathway for Staff, Postgraduate Research and Postgraduate Taught projects conducted overseas remains unchanged and via the Research Governance and Ethics Committee.

Applicant guidance is included with the online form and will be available on the BSMS website’s Governance and Ethics pages, but further advice and support is available from Caroline Brooks, BSMS Research Integrity Ethics and Governance Administrator ( 

Download the Standard Operating Procedures guide here >

Download the Risk Rating Filter Checklist here >

A Word version of the Standard Risk online application form for applying for SREO review can be downloaded. It provides a template for Undergraduate IRP and Postgraduate taught students preparing an application which they may wish to share with their Supervisors, in advance of submission in Sussex Direct.

Download the Word version here >

A note to Supervisors

Supervisors of UG IRP students and PGT dissertation students will need to be aware of the new process, since it directly applies to students under their supervision. Key points to highlight:

  • Supervisors will become fully integrated into the ethics review process for their student’s project.
  • In practical terms, while the student’s application will continue to be submitted for ethics review via the online system in Sussex Direct, it will first be submitted to their Supervisor for initial review and authorisation (which will also occur in Sussex Direct). Once the Supervisor has authorised the application, it is then transferred by the Supervisor to a School Research Ethics Officer for secondary review, decision and sign-off.
  • For UG IRP students, BSMS expect the student to submit the ethics application. Previously, some IRP Supervisors have submitted an ethics application on behalf of a student(s), usually well in advance of a student being allocated to the project, and before the student’s identity is known. However, with the introduction of the standard risk process, the responsibility for submitting the ethics application lies with the student and becomes an essential part of a student’s training in research.
  • Supervisors need to ensure that they have arranged access to the online ethics review application system in Sussex Direct, in advance of their student’s ethics submission. Access requires a University of Sussex ITS account linked to a BSMS email address. For BSMS faculty Supervisors this will already be in place. However, clinical supervisors of UG IRP projects will need to arrange access well in advance (it’s anticipated that they will first require an Honorary contract in order to be entitled to a BSMS email address), or, alternatively, will need to ensure that a member of BSMS faculty can act as second Supervisor for the purposes of ethics review.
  • A suite of support materials is available – notably this includes a new Applicant Checklist, which covers the supplementary documents required for different types of study, as well as tips for submitting a robust application.  Also a Supervisors Checklist, to support Supervisors with reviewing and confidently authorising their student’s application.
  • Students and their Supervisors can expect a quicker turnaround of an ethics review decision. From a students’ perspective, although the application process itself will be much the same, (it continues to be via Sussex Direct and the same documentation is required) the process of review has become more responsive. UG IRP and PGT students will no longer need to book their application in for review at a scheduled RGEC meeting. (Once their Supervisor has authorised their application in Sussex Direct, the School Research Ethics Officer aims to turn around an ethics decision within 10 working days). 

 Download the checklist tool for supervisors here >