UCL Research Ethics


About the UCL Research Ethics Committee

To support our reforms, the Research Innovation and Global Engagement Committee (RIGEC) has approved a new governance structure for research ethics at UCL. Find out more below.

Research ethics is fundamental to UCL's mission as a world-class institution dedicated to the continued pursuit of original knowledge and scientific advancement to benefit humanity and the world of the future. Research ethics committees play a central role in ensuring that research meets the highest standards of academic rigour, transparency, accountability and ethics, to safeguard and empower participants

These high standards are essential for ensuring the highest quality research and maintaining the continued trust and confidence of the wider research community and the public.

What does the UCL REC do?

The UCL Research Ethics Committee (UCL REC) has been established as a strategic committee with overarching responsibility for research ethics policy, guidance and processes at UCL. There are 3 subcommittees, including 2 to review both high and low-risk applications* (from non-LREC areas):

  1. Life and Medical Sciences Research Ethics Committee (LMS REC): Brain Sciences, Life Sciences, Population Health Sciences and Medical Science
  2. Humanities, Arts and Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HAS REC): Arts and Humanities, Bartlett, Institue of Education, Laws, Social and Historical Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Engineering Sciences
  3. The LREC Chairs Group: For the Chairs of the 24 Local Research Ethics Committees (LRECs) operating in faculties and departments, to facilitate the sharing of best practice and developing consistent approaches to emerging ethical issues.

Our 2 central reviewing committees will be multi-disciplinary with cross-UCL faculty representatives working in different fields and disciplines.

We are working with faculties on the membership of these committees. If you are enthusiastic about promoting ethical research practices and contributing to the advancement of knowledge at UCL, find out more about joining an ethics committee on our Become an ethics committee member page.

* High-risk applications submitted for the March 2024 deadline will undergo review by the existing UCL REC. Low-risk applications will continue to be considered on a rolling basis with applications being reviewed in order of submission.

Terms of Reference

  1. To maintain strategic oversight of research ethics at UCL. 
  2. To develop and review institutional policy and processes on research ethics to ensure they remain fit for purpose and respond to evolving research and ethics.  
  3. To ensure that ethics policy and processes and are in line with the principles set out in the UCL Code of Conduct for Research, UCL’s commitments to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and best practice in governance. 
  4. To oversee the work of the reviewing subcommittees and to review and recommend any required changes to the research ethics governance structure. 
  5. To review and approve proposals for the establishment of new low-risk LREC Chairs Group.  
  6. To receive and discuss reports from reviewing committees on complex ethical issues, recommending approaches, approving and implementing UCL-wide guidance and commissioning expert guidance where required. 
  7. To monitor and audit practice through the receipt of annual reports and to conduct other audits as required. 
  8. To review and suggest improvements required to the research ethics IT system. 
  9. To ensure that appropriate training and advice is available for staff, supervisors and students on good practice in relation to the ethics of their research.  
  10. To develop, implement and review the system of appeals, complaints and adverse events or incidents reported regarding ethically approved research.
  11. To report on an annual basis to UCL Research, Innovation and Global Engagement Committee an overview of the effectiveness of current ethics policy, practices and procedures in that reporting year.


The UCL REC membership will comprise Chairs from the reviewing committees, LREC Chairs Group (representing LRECs) and a range of experts to inform and support the ongoing development of research ethics review policy and process.