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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Governance and ethics

BSMS > Research > Support and governance > Governance and ethics

Governance and ethics

In 2010, the University of Sussex established a revised research governance structure designed to ensure that all university-sponsored research is conducted in line with best ethical practice, to ensure all legislative, regulatory and funding requirements are met, and to safeguard the reputation of the university.

A further goal of the revised structure is to ensure consistency in standards and practice across the university in relation to research governance and ethics. For further guidance, please see Sussex's information on research governance.

As part of this governance framework, BSMS is committed to ensuring that the dignity, rights and well-being of research participants are taken into consideration in the conduct of all research projects being undertaken within the school, or carried out by BSMS staff or students in the our partner hospital trusts or elsewhere.

Before research projects can commence researchers are required to obtain ethical and governance approval. The BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) is responsible for reviewing studies involving healthy volunteers, while projects involving NHS patients, their tissue and/or data, or NHS staff must be submitted to the Health Research Authority (HRA) for review. Detailed guidance about applying to the HRA can be found on the HRA website.

If human tissue is to be collected, processed and/or stored, 'Working with human tissue' offers guidance on how to proceed.

Any application received by the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee will be reviewed in detail by a panel of qualified experts (relevant to the project) and, where necessary, external colleagues with specialist expertise. The committee considers all aspects of governance and ethics related to research involving healthy volunteer participants, and is responsible for ensuring the integrity and quality of all approved research proposals.

COVID-19 update for applicants and researchers

For RGEC applicants

The BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) will continue to operate. However, the Committee will now solely conduct its business online with immediate effect. 

While all physical meetings of the Committee and Sub-Panel are now suspended, the RGEC will operate virtually, conducting online review of all applications submitted.

In order to continue to offer an ethical review service with the least disruption for applicants, the RGEC will continue to maintain the existing schedule of monthly review. To achieve this: 

  • Scheduled Committee and Sub-Panel meeting dates publicised to applicants will now serve as an operational deadline by which Committee and Sub-Panel review is submitted. 
  • Applicants should continue to book in their applications (and substantial amendments) for review at a specific ‘meeting’ via Sussex Direct and to submit their application by the respective meeting deadline. 
  • It may be possible, to arrange a separate virtual discussion with the Chair, Deputy Chair and Secretary, either for complex re-submissions, or for new applications posing significant logistical concerns which would best be talked through. However, this is by prior agreement and on receipt of a strong justification:   

We hope that this approach offers the least disruption to service for all applicants. Thank you.

For researchers

For the latest information on undergraduate, postgraduate (taught and research degrees) and staff research following the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Read more >

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

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 RGEC form can also be downloaded, to serve as a template for application preparation and for sharing with supervisors or members of the research team.

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 >

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 - 2020  

 Submission deadline 2020 meeting date  Committee decision
 10 February 2020  2 March 2020

 10 working days following the meeting

 16 April 2020  7 May 2020

 10 working days following the meeting


BSMS BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee Sub-Panel - 2020

Submission deadline 2020 meeting date  Committee decision 
 6 January 2020  27 January 2020 - FULL  10 working days following the meeting
 6 February 2020  27 February 2020 - FULL  10 working days following the meeting
 9 April 2020  30 April 2020  10 working days following the meeting
 21 May 2020  11 June 2020

 10 working days following the meeting

 25 June 2020  16 July 2020  10 working days following the meeting
 20 July 2020  10 August 2020  10 working days following the meeting
 7 September 2020  28 September 2020  10 working days following the meeting

Additional documents to be uploaded online


Obtaining school approval for extra-curricular research projects proposed by undergraduate students 

If you are an undergraduate medical student wishing to undertake a research project which is not a requirement of the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (BM BS) degree course but of personal clinical interest, please read the following information before embarking on an ethics application to the Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC). 

Students in Years 1 and 2 are discouraged from undertaking a research project of their own devising during term time, as insufficient time is available within the Phase 1 schedule to dedicate to extra-curricular work. (This excludes funded projects, however, which occur during the summer vacation such as lab-based projects). Students are given the opportunity to pursue a research project of their choosing during the Individual Research Project (IRP) Module, in Year 4, when dedicated time is deliberately allocated within the undergraduate curriculum for research activity.

In all cases, it is the Medical School’s policy that extra-curricular research projects should first be discussed with the curriculum team to ensure all parties are happy with the student assuming extra commitments. Students are expected to discuss a proposed project with their Personal Tutor (academic or clinical) in the first instance, and in some cases, a Personal Tutor may refer the matter to the respective Phase Leader for a decision. 

Before embarking on submitting an application for ethical review to the Research Governance and Ethics Committee (if healthy volunteers will be acting as participants in the research) students will need to obtain academic approval ‘in principle’ for the project and ensure this has been confirmed. The Committee will expect to have sight of evidence of approval and this should be included as part of the ethics application. 

In summary, the process is as follows:  

  1. First discuss a project proposal with your Personal Tutor. 
  2. If your Personal Tutor is unsure whether the project would be feasible, they should discuss the project with the respective Phase Leader.
  3. Once academic approval ‘in principle’ has been confirmed by your Personal Tutor/ Phase Leader, proceed with applying to the RGEC (if appropriate for your project type) and submit evidence of this confirmation as part of your ethics application to the Committee. 

External requests for access to BSMS students for research purposes

If you are a researcher from an external institution enquiring about involving our medical students in a research project, please contact Caroline Brooks, BSMS Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Administrator, on

Make sure you provide a set of the study documentation for review, including study protocol, consent forms, participant information sheets and any questionnaires or materials used in the study.

Evidence of ethical approval obtained from your institution is essential and should be included with your submitted documents. The request will then be assessed by senior academic staff in the BSMS Department of Medical Education to ensure there is no conflict between the study and existing BSMS research and timetabling as well as undue burden to the student cohort to be recruited. Full review by the BSMS Research Governance Ethics Committee may be required.

Applicants will be informed of the review outcome by email. Please allow at least two weeks for an initial decision to be returned and be aware there may be instances in which further information will be required before approval can be granted. Conditions may also be stipulated as part of the approval.

University sponsorship

If you are a member of staff or a student who is undertaking research involving patients or the administration of a controlled substance to healthy volunteers, a sponsor will be required.

Read more about university sponsorship >