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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Guidance for BSMS Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students

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Guidance for BSMS Undergraduates and Postgraduate Taught Students

BSMS taught student ethics applications are made and submitted electronically via the online ethics review application system in Sussex Direct via the link below.

Visit Sussex Direct here >

Applications for a range of health-related research involving healthy human participants, their biomaterial, or personal data are all eligible for review.

*Ethics approval must be obtained before the research starts, and any data collection or recruitment activities commence*

If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student conducting research that potentially poses minimal risks to participants for your Individual Research Project (IRP) or dissertation, your project could qualify for expedited review via a School Research Ethics Officer (SREO). 

Quick links

How to apply for ethics approval >
What to submit >
How to submit an application online >
Ethics review process >
Amendments to research projects after approval has been granted >

How to apply for ethics approval

  • The ethics application is submitted by the taught student in Sussex Direct. Under ‘Choose routing of application’ ‘Brighton and Sussex Medical School Research Governance & Ethics Committee’ must be selected.
  • Please ensure you allow enough time (at least 2-4 weeks) for the review process when planning your research. Applications should be timed in advance of the intended start date to allow time for review and any amendments that may be required.
  • Sussex Direct includes a separate review pathway for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate taught (PGT) student research projects judged as posing minimal risks to participants using an in-built risk assessment checklist.  Eligible projects receive expedited ethics review from a BSMS SREO. The review of undergraduate and postgraduate taught student applications involving higher risk activities, such as in-person fieldwork, is conducted via the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC). Download the risk rating filter checklist to determine if your application is likely to be eligible for SREO review.


Help applying

  • A Word version of the online ethics review application form used by taught students for applying for SREO review provides a template to use when preparing an application.

Download the word version here >

Useful forms and guidance 

  • The Applicant Checklist provides guidance on supporting study documentation to include as part of the application:


What to submit

The documents required for undergraduate and postgraduate taught applications are:

  • Ethical Review Application Form (online in Sussex Direct). All questions must be answered. “Not applicable” is a satisfactory answer where appropriate. Applicant guidance for completing the form is included in Sussex Direct via the ‘Help’ tab. Supporting documentation must also be supplied and submitted in PDF format if they are relevant to your project:• Participant Information Sheet (PIS) for each group of participants involved in the study.


  • Consent Form (CF) for each group of participants involved in the study to be signed by each participant.


    • Recruitment materials: posters, copies of letters or emails of invitation to recruit participants, social media posts, etc.
    • Copies of relevant authorisations such as consent from any organisational, institutional, or participant group ‘gatekeepers’ to gain access to the research participants or data.
    • Questionnaires – where applicable.• Interview topic guide(s) – where applicable.
    • Focus Group topic guide(s) – where applicable.
    • Students intending to conduct research which may pose health or safety risks, including lone working and/or fieldwork off campus (domestic or overseas) must complete a University of Brighton Risk Assessment for their project addressing the hazards, risks, and control measures and include this in the their ethics application as a supporting study document.

Download the Risk assessment document here >

  • Summary Curriculum Vitae (CV) for non-BSMS supervisors.

How to submit an application online

The completed application is transferred by the student to their supervisor. The system generates an email (sent to their University of Sussex email address) to alert the supervisor that an application requires their review. Students must ensure the application is completed to the satisfaction of the supervisor (including undertaking any supervisor directed changes) before submission for ethics review. The SREO will return incomplete applications.

  • A BSMS faculty supervisor with a BSMS email address linked to a University of Sussex ITS account is required to authorise the student’s application in Sussex Direct to ensure appropriate oversight for supervised research. 
  • Supervisor authorisation is a 2-step process: 
    • The supervisor approves the application (which results in a system generated notification to the student). (Select ‘Enter Decision’ > ‘Decision Status’ – select ‘Approved by supervisor’; or ‘Returned for revision (by supervisor)’ and provide an explanation of the return in the free text box). 
    • The application is flagged for submission and a ‘Submit to C-REC’ button is visible in the supervisor’s queue of ‘Applications submitted for supervisor approval’. The supervisor transfers the application to a SREO for ethics review via a ‘Submit to BSMS SREO for review’ button located at the bottom of the application. The Supervisor should select the appropriate SREO (for undergraduate or postgraduate taught applications) for review. 

Ethics review process

Applications judged as posing few risks to participants can expect to receive decision within 10 working days of submission to the SREO. The application will receive one of the following decisions in Sussex Direct:

  • Approved: No amendments to the application form or study documentation required. 
  • Returned for Revision: Studies which are either Conditionally Approved and require relatively minor amendments to the application and/or study documentation or, Provisionally Approved and require more substantial amendments to the application and/or study documentation.
  • Not Approved: For studies which are ethically unsound or submitted in error.

The applicant will be informed via email of the outcome of review (to their University of Sussex email address). They will receive a summary of the feedback and an itemised list of changes required for approval as well as those recommended for the enhancement of the study.

How long does the review process take until approval? 

The procedure is designed to be as prompt as possible while maintaining high standards. However, the timeframe for approval will depend on the quality of the submission. On average, the process can take 2-4 weeks for full review and approval.

Amendments to research projects after approval has been granted 

SREO approval must be sought for any changes that are made to projects following ethics approval. For example, you will need to apply for an amendment approval if you wish to:

  • Change the study design or methodology, participant recruitment process or populations. Example: recruitment of an additional cohort of participants. 
  • Change any documentation previously reviewed and approved. Example: rewording of any documentation including letters or information sheets.
  • Modify the study tools, for example, the addition of a new questionnaire. 
  • Extend the study end date.

If in doubt whether the change requires further ethics review, please contact the appropriate SREO (see Contact Us). If you need to apply for an amendment approval, you will need to submit a ‘Request for Amendment Form’ outlining the changes that are entailed, for consideration of a School Research Ethics Officer in Sussex Direct.


In Sussex Direct: 

  • Select ‘Submit Amendment’ in the original approved application. 
  • In the ‘Supporting Documents’ section, upload the Request for Amendment Form together with any new and revised versions of the study documentation. Amendment requests are generally considered within 10 working days of submission.


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