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Ethics clearance

Research ethics requirements

ECU has a commitment to ensure the conduct of ethical research by staff and students. Ethics is important to ensure:

  • the humane care of animals used for scientific purposes, including teaching; and
  • protection of the welfare and the rights of human participants.

The following steps are required are seek ethical clearance for research, and where to submit applications.

In all instances researchers must not embark on their projects until written approval from the appropriate committee has been received.

Unit licences

The Unit Licence is designed to manage data collection to fulfil the requirement of a unit. Unit Licences are available for undergraduate (and some postgraduate) coursework units where students are collecting data. Refer to Unit License FAQs for further information.

The unit licence is not ethics approval. It is a licence issued to a specified Unit Coordinator, who undertakes to ensure that the data collection is conducted in an ethical manner.

An application consists of the following:

  • Completed unit licence application form;
  • Unit plan (an if applicable, a course outline as handed out to students);
  • Completed ethical risk checklist;
  • Information letter;
  • Consent form (if applicable); and
  • Copy of data collection instruments.

Completed applications for Ethics Unit Licenses are sent to the Coordinator Research Support at The Coordinator Research Support will coordinate approval with the School Ethics Sub-Committee.

Staff ethics declarations

Staff ethics declarations are completed via STREAM. Declarations are only appropriate for research projects that do not involve the use of human participants, animals and/or previously collected confidential data.

Once the application has been submitted it will be managed by the Coordinator Research Support and approved by the Associate Dean (Research).

Ethics applications

The University Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) is responsible for the review of ethics applications for projects involving the use of animals for scientific purposes (which includes teaching) from all staff an students.

The University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) is responsible for the review of human research ethics applications from:

  • Master by Research students;
  • PhD students;
  • Doctorate students; and
  • Staff.

The School Ethics Sub-Committee has delegated authority to review low risk human research ethics applications for students studying at the following levels:

  • Honours;
  • Masters by Coursework;
  • Postgraduate Diploma; and
  • Undergraduate.

All research proposals considered by the School Ethics Sub-Committee must be low risk. If an application is considered to be greater than low risk, it must be referred on to the Human Research Ethics Committee. Some types of research (involving groups of participants or types of procedures) must be reviewed by the Human Research Ethics Committee.

Ethics clearance

The School of Arts and Humanities School Ethics Sub-Committee is able to assess ethics applications for low risk research for students in Honours, Masters by coursework/project and some independent study units in coursework masters. Applications should be sent to the Coordinator Research Support.

Both the Ethics Declaration form (for those whose data collection/project will not involve the use of human participants) and an application for ethics approval can be completed with the online process via STREAM. More information about how to submit an application is available from the procedures section of the University Ethics website.

Please note, that you must submit your application for ethics approval or ethics declaration through the online process using your University student email account only. Private emails such as hotmail accounts will not be able to be used on STREAM. If you are submitting an Ethics Declaration via STREAM, you must also attach your proposal and then print out both the Ethics Declaration and your proposal, get your Ethics Declaration signed by both you and your supervisor and submit them in hard copy for assessment.

An Ethics Application must also be submitted online through STREAM and associated documentation must be uploaded (eg: proposal, information letter, consent form, research instruments - survey, interview questions), but a hard copy of all with the application form signed by you and your supervisor must be provided to the Coordinator Research Support in Higher Degrees for the file.

Before going to STREAM to submit your ethics application it is recommended that you look at:

  • the Ethical Risk Assessment Document which sets out the criteria which will enable you to decide whether an Ethics Application needs to be submitted; and
  • information on how to construct an information letter and consent form, which contains specific information about details that need to be in the letter that will go out to participants. Also, we have provided some templates for an information letter and consent form, which can be adapted for your specific course.

For information about the specific requirements for obtaining permission to collect data in Catholic Schools and Department of Education Schools/Centres and for advice on how to obtain a Working with Children permit (for data collection with children) please refer to the Human research and ethics resources web page.

Staff research, research undertaken by students in Research Masters and Doctoral programs and those projects that would be considered high risk, need to be dealt with by the University Ethics Committee.

Other required resources may include a Photographic release form (which may be an alternative to a consent form for photomedia students) and a Talent release form (which may be an alternative to a consent form for Performing Arts students).


If you have any questions regarding the School Ethics Sub-Committee please contact:

Heather Williams
Coordinator  Research Support
Phone: (61 8) 9370 6496 

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