Skip to main contentSkip to footer
4 students in white lab coats and blue goggles watching a demonstration
Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Guidance for BSMS Postgraduate Research Students

BSMS > Research > Support and governance > RGEC hub > Guidance for Postgraduate Research Students

Guidance for Postgraduate Research Students

BSMS postgraduate research (PGR) 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.

PGR applications are reviewed by Brighton and Sussex Medical School’s Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) which meets monthly at scheduled meetings.

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

Quick links

How to apply for ethics approval >
Help applying >
What to submit >
How to submit an application online >
Ethics review process >
How long does the review process take until approval? >
Amendments to research projects after approval has been granted >

How to apply for ethics approval

  • The ethics application is submitted by the PGR 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 6 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.
  • A review slot must be booked at a scheduled RGEC meeting for the review of the application. These are available on request by contacting RGEC: (Review slots are required to manage the review volume at meetings and operate on a first come first served basis).  
  • Applications must be submitted online to Sussex Direct before 17.00 on the day of the submission deadline to be considered for review at the respective meeting. 
  • A schedule of RGEC Committee and Sub-Panel meeting dates and submission deadlines is provided below. (Meetings are held monthly and applications can be reviewed at either a Committee or Sub-Panel meeting, depending on the preferred timeline for commencing the research).
Committee and Sub-panel meetings
 Meeting Meeting date  Submission deadline
 Committee 21 September 2023  31 August 2023
 Sub-Panel  19 October 2023  28 September 2023
 Committee  23 November 2023  2 November 2023
 Sub-Panel  14 December 2023  23 November 2023
 Sub-Panel  18 January 2024  28 December 2023
 Sub-Panel  15 February 2024  25 January 2024
 Committee  14 March 2024  22 February 2024
 11 April 2024  21 March 2024
 Committee  23 May 2024  2 May 2024
 Sub-Panel  20 June 2024  30 May 2024
 Sub-Panel  18 July 2024  27 June 2024
 Sub-Panel  19 September 2024  29 August 2024


(Please note the deadlines and meetings only refer to Staff/PGR applications. UG/PGT applications are reviewed by a School Research Ethics Officer (SREO), unless deemed high risk).


Help applying

  • A Word version of the online ethics review application form used by Staff and PGRs for applying for RGEC review provides a template to use when preparing an application.


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 PGR student 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.
  • For complex studies: Study protocol (this supports the ethics application but does not replace the requirement for the Ethical Review Application Form to be completed).
  • If your research requires conducting fieldwork off-campus, including lone working, domestic or overseas travel, or is taking place in a foreign country, completion of a University of Brighton Risk Assessment will be required addressing the hazards, risks, and control measures and should be included as a supporting study document in your ethics application.

DOWNLOAD the risk assessment here >

  • If your research will require high risk travel or fieldwork conducted in high risk locations (for example, a country within Sub-Saharan Africa), and online Risk Assessment must be completed in AssessNET for the project, to provide institutional oversight.
    • Students must first request the setup of an AssessNET account. Contact Nicola Arnold, Safety HUB Manager, Occupational Safety and Health Services, to arrange an account to be activated. 
    • AssessNET is then accessed via SharePoint here, the University of Brighton’s intranet.

Please provide a PDF copy of the AssessNET Risk Assessment as a supporting study document. (Risks Associated with Research - University of Brighton Risk Assessment and Travel Insurance Requirements offers further guidance). 

Download the risk assessment guidance here >

  • If you are conducting research outside the UK, a completed Applicant Checklist Tool for Research Conducted Overseas will be required, which is available via the ‘Overseas Research’ page. View the page 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 in advance of the RGEC submission deadline. 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 Committee cannot accept 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 the BSMS RGEC for ethics review via a ‘Submit to BSMS RGEC for review’ button located at the bottom of the application. 

Ethics review process

At the scheduled RGEC meeting, applications will be reviewed by two members of the Committee or Sub-Panel in addition to the RGEC Chair/Deputy Chair. 

Applicants may be invited to discuss their application at the meeting or, can request to attend in person to respond directly to the Committee’s questions and facilitate the review. A request should be sent to two weeks before the meeting date to allow discussion time to be accommodated in the meeting agenda. PGR students are encouraged to be accompanied by a supervisor. The application will receive one of the following decisions:

  • Approved – no amendments to the application form or study documentation required. 
  • Conditionally Approved – minor amendments required.
  • Returned for Revision – studies which are either Conditionally Approved and require minor amendments to the application and study documentation or Provisionally Approved and require substantial amendments to the application and study documentation.
  • Not Approved – for studies which are ethically unsound or submitted in error.

The applicant will be informed of the outcome of the review via email. They will receive a letter summarising the feedback and an itemised list of changes required for approval, as well as those recommended for enhancement of the study. Conditionally Approved applications are reviewed via Chair’s Action. While Provisionally Approved applications require re-submission to a scheduled RGEC meeting. 


How long does the review process take until approval?

The timeframe for approval will depend on the quality of the submission. On average, the process can take at least six weeks for full review and approval. It is therefore important that you submit your application in good time and when entering the dates of your proposed data collection that they are far enough in the future.

Amendments to research projects after approval has been granted 

RGEC 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

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 the RGEC Chair in Sussex Direct.


In Sussex Direct: 

  • Select ‘Submit Amendment’ in the approved parent application.
  • In the ‘Supporting Documents’ section, upload the Request for Amendment Form together with any new and revised versions of the study documentation.
  • The named supervisor will need to authorise and submit the amendment.  

Most amendment requests can be considered by the Chair within 10 working days of submission and do not require review at a scheduled RGEC meeting. Occasionally substantial amendments require comprehensive review, and the applicant will be notified.


GO BACK TO the RGEC homepage >