SSH IDREC and DREC application process

The University requires the ethics review of research involving human participants or personal data, as set out in its Research Ethics Policy.

Applicants based the Social Sciences Division or Humanities Division should submit their ethics application to their departmental research ethics committee (DREC) (if there is one) or to the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (SSH IDREC).

Applicants from colleges or administrative departments are also welcome to submit ethics applications to the SSH IDREC.

Application forms and process

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If you are not sure which form to use, please refer to the filter questions in section A of the CUREC 1A application form.

If you can fully apply no more than one approved procedure (for example if you are working with children or schools), you can apply for ethics review using the CUREC 1A form instead of the CUREC 2 form. 

Remember that you must complete the core module of the University’s research ethics and integrity training before starting your research. 

It helps to explain your project methods and potential ethical issues clearly and simply in your application. The reviewers may not be experts in your discipline. 

It is much better to use your application to show that you have identified and addressed the ethical issues associated with your research than to try to downplay them. Showing that you have a good grasp of the ethical issues will give the reviewers confidence in your ability to address them throughout the course of your research. 

All CUREC documents are subject to ongoing review. Please always refer to this page (rather than locally stored versions) for the current versions of application forms.


Applications should be submitted from your email address to your DREC (if your department has one) or to the SSH IDREC via

Before an application can be reviewed, a signature or email endorsement is needed from the PI, the student (for student research) and the head of department or nominee. 

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. Please allow 30 days for the review process for CUREC 1A applications. 


The CUREC 1B application form is currently being piloted in the following departments:

In order to apply for ethics review using the CUREC 1B application form, you must be based in one of the above departments and your research must meet the criteria listed in Annex A of the guidance document.

The CUREC 1C form is to be completed by programme or module leaders applying for block ethics approval for a specific module.  It is not to be used to apply for ethics approval for an individual research project.

The CUREC 1C application process is currently being piloted in the following departments:

  • Education
  • Geography and the Environment
  • Oxford Internet Institute
  • Music
  • Saïd Business School
  • Sociology

In order to apply for ethics review using the CUREC 1C form, you must be a programme or module leader based in one of the above departments.


Applications should be submitted from your email address to your DREC (if your department has one) or otherwise to the SSH IDREC via

If your department has its own DREC, your application will be reviewed and approved by the DREC and then by the SSH IDREC. 

If your department does not have a DREC, your application will just be reviewed by the SSH IDREC. 

Before an application can be reviewed, a signature or email endorsement is needed from the PI, the student (for student research) and the head of department or nominee. 

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. Please allow 60 days for the review process for CUREC 2 applications. 


Remember to include relevant supporting documents with your application, for example:

  • recruitment invitation letters, emails and adverts
  • information sheets
  • consent forms and consent scripts
  • surveys, questionnaires and interview questions 
  • a copy of the approved risk assessment, if relevant
  • signatures or email endorsement from the head of department (or nominee), the principal investigator and the student (if applicable)

Our guidance on obtaining participants’ informed consent includes templates that you are welcome to use, but remember to adapt them to your project and to your participants. 


Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive feedback by email, normally within 2 to 3 weeks. At this point the committee may request changes or further information. When revising the documents, it helps the reviewers if you use track changes and leave in the reviewers’ comments. 

You will receive an approval letter once your application has been approved. You must not start your study until you receive this letter.


Low-risk research (for example work towards an essay or thesis) undertaken by an undergraduate student whose research is eligible for review by the SSH IDREC or a DREC may qualify for expedited review. If the student can meet the criteria of, and follow, CUREC Approved Procedure 06, the student’s supervisor may conduct the ethics review. The project will then be exempt from further ethical review and approval by the DREC or by the SSH IDREC. The procedure sets out in further detail the type of low-risk undergraduate research eligible for this expedited review process.

In such cases, the undergraduate student must still complete and sign the CUREC1A checklist, which must also be signed and endorsed by the student’s supervisor. This, together with any related documents (for example information for participants and consent documents), should then be emailed by the student's supervisor (from an email address) to the appropriate DREC (where one exists) or to the SSH IDREC (via for their records. Please make it clear that the application has already been reviewed following this process otherwise it might be treated like a normal application to the DREC or IDREC. The DREC or SSH IDREC will acknowledge receipt of such applications but will not issue a formal letter of ethical approval of the project.

Please note that this procedure cannot be used by students whose research is eligible for review by the Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (MS IDREC) or by the Oxford Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC).


Useful information


Our frequently asked questions include:

  • Do I need approval?
  • Completing the application
  • Data management


The Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) best practice guidance documents cover a range of topics.

CUREC’s approved procedures allow you to apply for ethical review using the process for lower-risk research (completing a CUREC 1A application form instead of a full CUREC 2 application form).

Information on the documents that will need to be prepared and submitted alongside the application form is provided in the Application forms and process section. There are also instructions within the application forms. 


Research integrity training is compulsory for all University research staff and research students.  Online research integrity training is available to all University staff and students via the course booking system CoSy.  Further information is available on the research integrity and ethics training page

An introductory course on research ethics at Oxford (Social Sciences and Humanities) takes place each term.

There is also a video-recording of a previous 'Introduction to research ethics (Social Sciences and Humanities)' training session. You will need to sign in with your University SSO.  You will not receive a certificate of completion after watching this, but it will be a useful general introduction to research ethics at Oxford.


You should allow 30 days for the review of a CUREC 1A application and 60 days for the review of a CUREC 2 application. 


If you have any questions about the application process or about addressing the ethical issues in your research do contact your DREC administrator or the SSH IDREC Secretariat for advice.

Further information about the SSH IDREC, including the Committee's Standing Orders and a list of Committee members.

After approval

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As your project progresses, there may be reasons to make changes (for example to the researcher involved, the duration, or procedures). If these changes alter the ethical frame of the project and thus require re-review, please fill out an amendment form and submit this, the revised application form and any revised supporting document to or to your DREC for review. If the original application had been reviewed by both a DREC and the SSH IDREC (for example a CUREC 2) then the amendment must be submitted to the IDREC for review. 


The committee may ask to review your project, or for you to complete an annual progress report as part of routine monitoring exercises:

Please always make sure you have the most up-to-date study procedures, supporting information and approval letters to hand for ease of review.  

In extremely rare cases it may not be possible to approve an ethics application. An appeals procedure is available for appealing a decision to withhold, suspend or withdraw approval of research. Applicants are welcome to contact the DREC (if applicable) or IDREC Secretariat for informal advice ahead of submitting an appeal.


In the event that a complaint is made about research approved by this research ethics committee, it should be referred to 

Where it becomes apparent that there has been a serious breach of the terms of the ethical approval, this will be communicated to the research ethics committee.

Any complaints about the committee itself should be made to CUREC: