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Ethics and Governance

Welcome to Northumbria University's research ethics and governance web page. This page has been developed to accommodate Northumbria University's policies, practices and guidance around research ethics and in order to promote best practice for the ethical conduct of research. 


Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Professor Mark Blythe

Faculty of Business and Law, Research Ethics Director:  Dr Hyemi Shin

Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Research Ethics Director: Dr Kevin Glynn

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Dr Rachel Ranson

Northumbria University Research Ethics Contact:  Jennifer Stergiou, Director (Research and Innovation Services). Telephone: 0191 227 4908

General Ethics Support queries, contact

Ethics Online - research ethics approval system

Ethical approval must be obtained for all research projects prior to the commencement of the research.

Online Research Ethics and Governance Approval: Access the system here Ethics Online

Staff and Postgraduate Research Students can access the User Guide here.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students can access the User Guide here

Everyone can access Ethics Online FAQs here.

For System Support:

If you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate taught student, please contact your Module Tutor or Supervisor

If you are a Postgraduate research student, please contact your Supervisor

If you are a member of staff, please contact your Department Ethics Lead or Faculty Ethics Director. 

A support model detailing how to manage issues in the system can be found here (Northumbria staff only)

Business Case for an amendment to Ethics Online - to ensure that any future system developments are both cost effective and impact all system users, changes will only be made on receipt of a completed business case which is then approved by all Faculty Research Ethics Directors and Research and Innovation Services. Before completing the business case, you should consider if the proposal is appropriate as a change to the system or better solved by effecting policy/best practice within your department/faculty.

Documentation and Guidance

Ethics in Research Policy Statement

Northumbria University strives to uphold the highest standards of ethical practice in research and academic integrity. Irrespective of the nature and ethical complexity of a research project, staff and students are expected to ensure that their conduct is driven by the ethical imperative of respect, the intent to do no harm and to contribute to society’s knowledge and practice through engagement in research that has beneficent intent.

Northumbria University’s Ethics In Research Policy Statement (pdf) can be viewed here.

Northumbria University's Annual Board of Governor's Research Integrity Statements

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Policy (pdf)

Intellectual Property Bitesize Guide (pdf)

Hugh Rhodes Enterprise Manager,
Research and Innovation Services
telephone: 0191 243 7638

Legal Agreements for Research Projects

There are various legal contracts that will need to be in place during the lifetime of a research project.  The main ones are funding contracts, collaboration agreements, and contract research contracts.

All contracts relating to research are dealt with by the Legal Services Team within the Vice-Chancellors Department and Research and Innovation Services will work with Principal Investigators to ensure that Legal Services are instructed in respect to contractual arrangements.

Principal Investigators do not have authority under the University’s Financial Regulations to sign and enter into contracts on behalf of the University, hence ALL contracts must be reviewed by Legal Services and once finalised,  Legal Services will arrange for an authorised signatory within the appropriate Faculty to approve and sign off the contract.

From a research governance perspective, specific reference has been given to the following types of contracts  and the process for each  that must be followed:

Student Placement /Student Project Non-Disclosure Agreements

Material Transfer Agreements                                                                  

NHS-Related Guidance including IRAS Process

This area contains all NHS-related guidance relating to ethical approval for research within the National Health Service.

If you have any queries, please contact

Clinical Trials

The Clinical Trials Toolkit provides practical advice to researchers in designing and conducting publicly funded clinical trials in the UK. Through the use of an interactive routemap, this site provides information on best practice and outlines the current legal and practical requirements for conducting clinical trials.

The Toolkit is primarily focused on Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (CTIMPs) and the regulatory environment and requirements associated with these. However researchers and R&D staff working on trials in other areas will also find useful information and guidance of relevance to the wider trials environment. is a registry and results database of public and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world. This web-based resource provides patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions.

If you require a User Account, please contact

Integrated Research Approval System (IRAS)

Integrated Research Approval System (IRAS) is a single system for applying for Health Research Authority (HRA) permissions and approvals for health and social care / community care research in the UK. IRAS enables you to enter information about your project once instead of duplicating information in separate application forms and uses filters to ensure that the data collected and collated is appropriate to the type of study, and consequently the permissions and approvals required.

If you are unsure whether you should complete an IRAS form, please check with your supervisor in the first instance and then your Departmental Ethics Lead.

Before submitting to the IRAS system, please follow Northumbria University’s approval process for IRAS submission; click here for further details.  The IRAS Internal Approval Proforma can be found here.

Once internally approved, complete your submission to the NHS Integrated Research Approval System here.

Here are some other useful links

The Five Steps to Study Setup Processes for Non-commercial Studies


Northumbria University Sponsorship Review Checklist

Northumbria University IRAS Submission Checklist 

Northumbria University Insurance Checklist

HRA Approval diagram

NHS Research Passport

This is a national scheme which allows Northumbria University researchers to access the NHS to undertake research projects without having duplicate pre-engagement checks.

Applicable only for those engaged in a research project with the NHS but dependent on the nature of the research undertaken.

The responsibility of the researcher to ensure their completed Passport application is forwarded to the NHS Trust where they are carrying out the research activity to be validated.

A research passport should be applied for once a researcher is:

  1. Named on a grant application; or
  2. Appointed at interview to undertake NHS specific research; or
  3. A current member of staff starting a new NHS project.

However, it is always the duty of the researcher to initiate the application.

Application process:

A standard research passport application form is completed by the Researcher, the Principal Investigator of the research project and by HR

DBS clearance and health clearance are required as part of the process

For advice on the process and/or to progress a Research Passport Application please email

For Research Passport Flowchart, click here.

NHS Related Research Links

Clinical Trials Toolkit - NIHR

Health Research Authority 

HRA Approval: the new process for the NHS in England

HRA Schedule of Events and Statement of Activities for HRA Approval

HRA Participant Information Sheets and Informed Consent templates and guidance

NHS Trust R&D Approvals process

Research Ethics and Governance Handbook

Training Resources

The following training courses are available to postgraduate research students:

  • Research Ethics at Northumbria - this is compulsory for postgraduate research students and must be completed before the commencement of the research. The course is online on our Researcher Development Blackboard site - to access this use our guide.

The following training courses are available to staff:

  • Research Ethics at Northumbria - staff should complete this training every 3 years. The course is available online via the HR e-learning gateway on the Staff Portal.
  • Reviewing Research Ethics Applications - this course is for staff who conduct reviews of applications for ethical approval. The course is online on our Researcher Development Blackboard site - to access this use our helpful guide.


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