Student Projects Ethics Committee

The function of the Student Projects Ethics Committee (SPEC) is to review all School of Psychology undergraduate and postgraduate taught students’ project proposals which involve human participants.

The Student Projects Ethics Committee will:

  1. Ensure that all project activity approved by the Committee is designed with due consideration for ethical issues and follows codes of ethical practice as laid out by The British Psychological Society (BPS) and the University Research Ethics Sub Committee (UREC).
  2. Ensure that decisions are communicated to students within a reasonable period of time (within 10 working days from the date of the meeting at which the proposal was considered).
  3. Provide annual reports to the University Research Ethics Sub Committee on:
    • Numbers and types of projects reviewed and approved
    • A summary of the specific ethical issues that have been raised
    • Policy areas that need to be addressed.

Quorum requirements

A quorum shall consist of 40% of members 

Frequency and timing of meetings

5.   Sufficient number to meet School demands. Agreed at the beginning of the academic year

Project review procedures

If a project is to be considered by a SPEC the following documentation should be submitted directly to the SPEC administrator (electronic & hard copy). 

  • An ethics checklist
  • A project plan

And, if they are applicable;

  • A letter of invitation for participants;
  • An information sheet which should include the following sections;
    • why the participant has been chosen;
    • what will happen to participants if they take part;
    • a discussion of the possible disadvantages, risks and benefits of taking part;
    • the procedures for ensuring confidentiality and anonymity;
    • the proposed use of the research findings;
    • contact details of the principal investigator plus details of additional support agencies (if necessary);
    • A copy of the participant consent form:
    • Copies of any questionnaire, interview schedule or topic guide.

This list of documents reflects the fact that the role of the SPEC is to assess whether the proposed application of research methods is ethically acceptable.  Projects should only be submitted to a SPEC when drafts of the above documents are available. 

The review will be undertaken at the next scheduled SPEC meeting. 

Following the review process the Chair will inform the applicant of the committee’s decision which will be either:

  • Study approved;
  • Study approved subject to clarification of issues, modification of design or provision of additional information which will be itemised in the letter of response;
  • Study rejected with supporting reasons. 

Chair’s Action

Between ordinary meetings of the Student Projects Ethics Committee the Chair shall have the authority to act on behalf of the committee on any matter requiring a decision prior to the next scheduled meeting where the business does not merit, in the view of the Chair, the convening of a special meeting.  Any action taken by the Chair on behalf of the Committee shall be reported as Chair’s action to the next meeting of the Student Projects Ethics Committee.  Prior to taking Chair’s action the Chair should consider whether it is appropriate to discuss the matter with other members of the Panel or to circulate details electronically to give members the opportunity to comment on the proposals

Appeals procedure

Appeals to be made to the Head of School.   




Chair (Academic staff member from the School of Psychology )

2 Academic staff members from the Undergraduate Programmes (1 quantitative, 1 qualitative)

1 Academic staff member from the Postgraduate Taught Programmes


Non Committee

1 person to take minutes


FREQUENCY OF MEETINGS:     Sufficient number to meet School demands. Agreed at the beginning of the academic year                                                       



RECEIVE PROPOSALS FROM:   School of Psychology undergraduate and postgraduate taught students



PROVIDE REPORTS TO:              University Research Ethics Sub Committee (UREC)



ADMINISTERED BY:                       School of Psychology