UCL Research Ethics


UCL Research Ethics Service

Ethical review and the practical application of ethics within research play an essential part in helping to ensure the integrity of research.

All research, particularly that involving human participants and/or their data, carries some degree of risk. In addition, research that does not involve human participants or their data also has the potential to raise ethical issues; such as environmental studies that have the potential to impact on or change the environment, archaeological excavations in disputed territories, studies involving access to sacred sites or the analysis of sacred cultural objects where access is restricted or where there are particular modern sensitivities or issues.

As a UCL researcher you have a responsibility to ensure that you have rigorously considered any ethical implications arising from the research design, methodology, conduct, dissemination, future use and data sharing and linkage.  Sometimes that risk may be small or even negligible, however before commencing your research you should always consider what ethical risks or issues the research you intend to undertake may raise and ensure this is managed within your research plan. 

You should also monitor this during the project in order to identify and manage any additional issues or risks that arise during the life of the project.

On this website, you will find information and guidance to support you to:

  • Understand UCL’s ethics policy and processes;
  • Recognise when research requires ethical approval;
  • Understand the different types of ethics committees (within and external to UCL) and which to apply to;
  • How to apply for ethical approval at UCL and guidance on completing the application;
  • Access a wide variety of ethical guidance that can be applied directly to your research.


Careful reflection and planning in relation to research ethics, not only helps to protects participants who are a valuable part of the research process (both directly and indirectly), but also supports you as a researcher in identifying and managing the risks and ethical issues associated with your research, as well as enhancing the overall quality of the research.  Studies that require ethical approval should ensure that approval is obtained prior to the start of the research as retrospective ethical approval will not be granted. 

Page last updated: 9 January 2023