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School of the Biological Sciences



The Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee considers applications for ethical approval for research programmes in human psychology. Ethical approval is normally sought through the Health Research Authority for studies involving patients attending NHS clinics or users of any of the services for which UK Health Departments are responsible. This includes adult social care in England and both adult and children's social care in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Committee may consider applications involving administration of pharmaceuticals to healthy volunteers and use of NHS facilities where no patients are involved. Applications for ethical approval for investigations in human biology, other than psychology, should be made to the Cambridge Human Biology Research Ethics Committee.

Guidance on policy issues may be obtained from the Committee's handbook (see 'downloads'), which contains a record of policy decisions on ethical issues, and pointers to guidance documents issued by the British Psychological Society, the Medical Research Council and the Royal College of Physicians.

In accordance with University policy, research involving human participants or personal data should not begin until proper ethical review has taken place and approval given. Retrospective ethical reviews are therefore not permitted.

It is University policy that studies involving human participants, without exception, have made arrangements for appropriate insurance. This can be obtained from the University’s Insurance Section. Applications for ethical approval and insurance can be made simultaneously, but evidence of insurance (usually a letter from the Insurance Section) is needed before a Letter of Approval can be issued by the Committee. The MRC-CBU has its own insurance arrangements separate from the University, however, evidence of insurance is still needed. Studies undertaken by University staff using MRC-CBU as a site will require University insurance.

Applications for ethical approval are submitted to the Committee on the application form (see box). Answer all questions using the notes provided for guidance. Append any additional information (participant information sheets, consent forms, questionnaires, adverts and so on), labelling them as appendices. Further information is given on the application form. Once complete, submissions are sent as email attachments to:

If you would like further advice on the suitability of a project for review or the review process itself, consult the ethical review process outline (on the left) or email Cheryl Torbett.

Applications are reviewed by two Committee members from departments other than that of the applicant(s). The Committee is constituted of senior members of departments from which applications are commonly made. The current (2021) members are:

Tristan Bekinschtein, Department of Psychology

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Psychology

Anita Chhabra, Addenbrooke's NHS Foundation Trust

Isabel Clare, Department of Psychiatry

Matt Davis, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Michelle Ellefson, Faculty of Education

Elizabeth Fistein, Department of Psychiatry

Sue Gathercole, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Claire Hughes, Centre for Family Research

Ruth Kershner, (Deputy Chair), Faculty of of Education

Tom Manly, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Jason Rentfrow, Department of Psychology

Helen Statham, Lay Member

John Suckling, (Chair), Department of Psychiatry

Clinical Advisory Panel:

Kathy Beardsall, Department of Paediatrics

David Dunger, Department of Paediatrics

David Menon, Department of Anaesthesia

Fraz Mir, Clinical Pharmacology Unit

Ken Ong, MRC Epidemiology Unit

Matthis Zilbauer, Department of Paediatrics

Appointments to the Committee are for three years. Enquiries on vacant positions should be made to the above address.


Submission checklist

It is recommended that you complete the following checklist prior to making your submission. Have you included the following documents in your submission?

  • Completed application form
  • Signatures of all applicants
  • Consent forms
  • Participant information sheets
  • Submitted grants
  • Recruitment flowchart
  • Recruitment letters, adverts, etc.
  • Questionnaires
  • Insurance letter