University Research Ethics Committee

Terms of Reference and Constitution

Governance reporting line: Research Integrity and Governance Committee

Document owner: Governance Services

1. Origin

  • The University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) provides oversight of the University's ethical framework for research ethics.
  • University Research Ethics Committee is a subcommittee of the Research, Integrity and Governance Committee (RIGC) which is a committee of Senate.

2. Purpose

UREC’s core responsibility is research ethics including promoting and fostering a culture of responsible and ethical conduct of research amongst the University academic community.

3. Responsibilities and activity

  • Oversight and keeping under review the implementation of the University Research Ethics Policy, ethics sub-policies and guidance, and the ethics review process.
  • Development of policies and guidance in relation to ethical and related issues.
  • Advising Faculty Research Ethics Committees (FRECs) and subcommittees on ethical issues and relevant procedures, including concerns related to a particular study and, where appropriate and necessary, adjudicating upon such matters.
  • With the agreement of the relevant Associate Dean Research and UREC Chair to designate a particular FREC to lead in the development of specific areas of institutional best practice, and to act as the lead committee for certain areas of research.
  • To receive and review reports from each Faculty Research Ethics Committee, and Research Ethics committees with pan-University responsibility, as appropriate, including an Annual Report which is to be provided by FREC and pan-University Research Ethics Committee Chairs at the beginning of each academic year.
  • To ensure that members of UREC, FRECs, pan-University Research Ethics Committees and sub-committees have received, or will receive, appropriate training in research ethics.
  • To report to RIGC.
  • To ensure the UREC is fit for purpose by performing an effectiveness review every three years.
  • UREC has no direct financial authority but should be aware of the cost-benefit of its decisions.

4. Reporting arrangements

  • UREC shall report directly to the Research Integrity and Governance Committee (RIGC) via the Chair (Vice President Research and Enterprise), and indirectly to the Research and Enterprise Executive Group (REEG), University Executive Board (UEB) and the University Council and Senate (as necessary or required).
  • Frequency of reporting: UREC shall report to RIGC on a termly basis.
  • Faculty Research Ethics, and pan-University Research Ethics Committees shall report to UREC by way of an annual report.
  • Administrative Research Ethics and Quality Assurance (AREQA) shall report to UREC by way of annual report.

5. Constitution

5.1 Membership

The membership of UREC shall include:

  • Vice-President Research and Enterprise (or delegate), (Chair)
  • Academic Registrar
  • Head of Research Ethics and Governance
  • Head of Research Integrity and Compliance
  • Chair of each Faculty Research Ethics Committee:
    • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
    • Faculty of Medicine
    • Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
    • Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
    • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Chair of the subcommittee Business and Law in the Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Chair of the subcommittee Psychology in the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
  • Chair of the subcommittee Geography and Oceanography in the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
  • Chair of the Animal Committee
  • Chair of the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body
  • Senior academic with experience in ethics, or member of an NHS Research Ethics Committee appointed by UREC Chair
  • Two Lay/Independent Members
  • President of the Students’ Union or a representative of the Students’ Union

Current membership is set out in the Annex to these Terms of Reference.

A Lay Member is a volunteer who is independent of the University i.e. an individual who has not studied at, been employed by, or held offices with the University in the last 3 years.

UREC lay members should meet the following criteria:

  • Be able to understand key issues in research ethics, especially in relation to research involving human participants and personal data.
  • Be able to act independently and impartially and behave responsibly and ethically.
  • Be able to contribute to the work of University Research Ethics Committee.
  • Have access to a device with the Internet or be able to access the device provided by the University (e.g., via the University Library) in order access UREC papers and attend meetings (if held via the remote means).
  • Be able to attend meetings and training sessions during the working day, 3-5 times a year (either in person or via the remote means). Preferably should live within a reasonable geographical proximity to the University (up to 30 miles),however this is not a requirement.

Lay members may be selected and appointed through a nomination or responses to adverts. Appointment is made by the UREC Chair who may, if required, use an appropriate selection process. Normally a term of a lay/independent member is three years, with the option of up to two renewals.

Lay members will be offered an annual honorarium of £250 (pro-rata for proportion of a year served), subject to review every three years, for their attendance and involvement with UREC. Lay members will be also reimbursed for reasonable expenses e.g., travel, childcare.

In line with the University Conflicts of Interest Policy, UREC members must inform the Chair of any relevant conflicts of interest before or at the beginning of the UREC meeting. If the Chair has an interest in a matter under consideration by a Committee, a Deputy Chair who does not have a conflict of interest should be appointed to review the conflict and decide about any further steps required.

5.2 Attendance at meetings

  • Members of the Research Ethics and Governance Office (REGO) team, the Head of Research Data and Intellectual Property (Library) and Governance Services shall attend all meetings.
  • Representatives from other University teams or departments shall attend meetings as appropriate and as required for specific matters where business relevant to them is to be discussed.

6. Quorum and frequency

6.1 Quorum

  • For decision making the quorum shall be at least six members. It shall include at least two members of academic staff and at least one member of Professional Services Staff.
  • If the Committee is not quorate, any decisions made should be ratified by email communication by the required quorum or at a subsequent quorate meeting.

6.2 Frequency of meetings

  • UREC shall meet at least three times per academic year. Each meeting should have minutes and agreed actions.
  • All members are expected to attend all UREC meetings either in person or via remote means. Where this is not possible, a delegate of appropriate seniority should be appointed to attend the Committee to represent the respective Faculty Research Ethics Committee and other Committees/Teams/Departments as per Section 5 above. One meeting each year will be held in person.

7. Resources

  • Does the body have responsibilities that incur budget spend? Yes. The process of undertaking research ethics reviews, developing ethics policies requires staff time, which has budget implications.
  • Does this body require a budget to operate, i.e., experts? Yes. The University Research Ethics process is supported by the Research Ethics and Governance Office (REGO) in Research and Innovation Services.
  • If ‘yes’, who holds the budget? The Director of Research and Innovation Services.
  • Secretariat support is provided by Governance Services.

8. Terms of Reference review

  • Date of last review: October 2022
  • Date of next review: May 2024


Current Membership (May 2023)

Vice-President Research and Enterprise (or delegate), (Chair)Professor Mark Spearing
Academic RegistrarClaire Atkins
Head of Research Ethics and Clinical GovernanceLinda Hammond
Head of Research Integrity and ComplianceJulie Merriman-Jones

Chair of each Faculty Research Ethics


  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
  • Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • Faculty of Social Sciences

Dr Heidi Armbruster

Dr Jane Vennik

Dr Martin Warner

Dr Brian Pickering

Prof Michaela Brockman

Chair of the sub-committee Business and Law in the Faculty of Social SciencesDr Jane Parry
Chair of the sub-committee Psychology in the Faculty of Environmental and Life SciencesProfessor Roger Ingham
Chair of the subcommittee Geography and Oceanography in the Faculty of Environmental and Life SciencesProfessor Peter Sunley
Chair of the Animal CommitteeJenny Parks
Senior academic with experience in ethics, or member of an NHS Research Ethics Committee appointed by UREC ChairVacancy
Two Lay/Independent MembersAnne Srokosz Anna Pascoe
President of the Students’ Union or are presentative of the Students’ UnionEmily Bastable

In Attendance

Members of the Research Ethics and Governance Office(REGO)

Julia Hill

Kate Rolfvondenbaumen

Lindy Dalen

Annette Holland

Head of Research Data and Intellectual Property (Library)Isobel Stark
Representatives from other University teams or departments - as appropriate and as required for specific matters 
SecretariatGovernance Team