The remit of the Faculty of Medicine Health and Life Science Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Committee (FRIEG) is as follows:

The function of the FREIG is to ensure that research conducted across the School of Psychology, School of Health and Social Care, and the Medical School is done in a manner that accords with research integrity, and complies with ethical and governance requirements.  

This site gives generic information regarding Research ethics and governance within the Faculty but where necessary will use subheadings to cover School specific information and requirements. Applicants should be aware that review of Ethics applications is an integral and important aspect of the research process. It is not to be seen as a tick box exercise and it should be noted that approval on submission is not automatic. It may sometimes require amendments to be made (and on more than one occasion). In addition, in some instances where a decision cannot be reached at School level this will be discussed at Faculty level and in some instances may need to be referred to University level for a discussion. Applicants should therefore ensure that they allow themselves adequate time when submitting an ethics application.  Please speak with your supervisor at the earliest opportunity to discuss submission of your application as delay in submitting may affect the research process;

Why is ethics approval needed?

  • Upholding Research Integrity: Ethical approval ensures that the research we conduct meets the highest standards of integrity. It is a testament to our commitment to producing reliable, genuine, and trustworthy results.
  • Protecting Participants: Particularly in human and animal research, ethical clearance is of paramount importance to ensure the well-being, rights, and dignity of participants are not compromised. This is essential not just from a moral standpoint but also to ensure the validity of our data.
  • Ensuring Data Accuracy: When research protocols are reviewed for ethics, potential flaws or biases in the methodology can be identified and rectified. This leads to better and more accurate results.
  • Building Public Trust: For our research to have a lasting impact, it must be trusted by both our peers and the public. Adhering to ethical guidelines assures them of our dedication to rigorous and responsible research.
  • Avoiding Legal and Institutional Repercussions: Collecting data without ethical approval can lead to severe consequences, ranging from retraction of published works to legal actions.

It is therefore paramount that all researchers understand and respect the significance of ethical considerations in their work. Not only is it a reflection of our professionalism, but it also determines the value and impact of our contributions to the academic world.

When is ethics approval needed?

Students:  Ethics review is required for all studies involving human participants that will be submitted for assessment and /or publication. This will include undergraduate dissertations, theses for higher degrees, externally funded research and ‘unfunded’ research (including undergraduate and postgraduate research) which produces reports or other publications.

This means that any primary research with human participants (for example - questionnaire, surveys, interviews, Focus groups, etc.) requires ethical approval before it can be undertaken.

Any research carried out without the Relevant ethics approval will be considered a breach of Ethics policy and will mean that such studies cannot be marked for assessment purposes and would not be suitable for any subsequent publication”.

Staff: Also required to submit applications for ethical review when undertaking research on human participants and/or data which is not publicly available.

Please note that for research being undertaken outside the UK, ethical permission should be sought locally as well as thorough the Swansea University ethics committee. Relevant approvals should be included within your ethics application (or confirmation that it has been requested and will be forwarded in due course).

Note that research is given a broader definition to encompass service evaluation, where this concerns human participants.

NHS approval – If you are undertaking a study which involves NHS patients, patient data, NHS staff or NHS premises please see links below to decide if your application requires NHS Ethics scrutiny.

NRES - Does my project require ethical review?

Does my Project require ethical approval?

Please note that if your study is considered to be a Service Evaluation or Audit then it will NOT need to be reviewed through the NHS system. However, you will need approval from the relevant R & D and information Governance departments of the Health Authority. Please provide such approvals along with your ethics application form to the University committee as SE’s and Audits will need to be given an ethical oversight. 

To determine if your study is considered to be a Service Evaluation or Audit refer to our Defining Research Document.

For more information on the policy for Service Evaluation, refer to our Guidance on Service Evaluation.

Human Tissue - Where research involves the collection of human samples from non NHS patients and they are storing that tissue for any period of time they either need to have NHS REC approval or hold it under a HTA licence – University REC is not sufficient for storing human samples, even if they are from healthy volunteers. 

See Swansea University guidelines on the collection of human tissue.

When is Ethical review by the faculty not needed?

  1. Research that does not fall under the remit of the School Ethics  Committee which requires NHS research ethics scrutiny – discussed above.
  2. For work which involves interventions with live animals* on Swansea University campus and in the field the University Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) will carry out an ethical review.

    The AWERB may be contacted via

    (*=As defined by ASPA 2012)

    Note: To submit an application to the AWERB, please use the Online ethics system.

  3. Where no human participants or personal data are accessed e.g. Literature based reviews, Systematic reviews.
  4. Projects where the data being considered is freely available in the public domain e.g. published biographies, reports.
  5. Own personal reflective practice-based work.

Please note that for exceptions 3, 4 and 5 above, if your study question raises sensitive issues or characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 please refer to your Supervisor and/or the School Ethics Chair. This may then require an ethical application to be submitted.

If you are unsure if you need ethical approval please see the Ethical Review Pathway Map. Please liaise also with your supervisor and with the relevant Ethics Committees (dependent on which School you are studying in).