Applying for ethics approval

The University has a Human Ethics Committee (HEC) which reviews, approves and monitors research projects involving human participants, their data or tissue.

The application process

Applications for ethics approval are completed online in ResearchMaster. Many staff and students have access to ResearchMaster automatically, but if you don’t, complete the application form available in the sidebar and email it to the Research Office ethics team.

When you begin your online application you will be asked to select the form for the committee you are applying to. Victoria University of Wellington has one central Human Ethics Committee and two subcommittees. If your research falls within the School of Psychology, apply to the Psychology subcommittee. If your research falls within the Faculty of Law or Wellington School of Business and Government, apply to the Pipitea subcommittee.

If your research includes areas of ethical risk, it will be reviewed as a Category A application and discussed at a face-to-face meeting of the committee. You should submit a Category A application in time for the deadline for the committee's meeting. If your research is low risk, it can proceed as a Category B application, and will be reviewed between meetings. You can submit a Category B application at any point.

You will complete a self-assessment form when you begin your online application to determine if your research is Category A or B, although the committee will make a final assessment of the risk of the project.


You must have confirmation of approval before you begin any formal research procedures, such as recruitment or data collection. The HEC does not award retrospective approval. Make sure you leave plenty of time to complete ethics requirements before the start of your research project.

Timeframes vary depending on committee workload. If your application is reviewed at a meeting (Category A), you should receive comments from the committee within five working days after the meeting. For Category B applications, comments will be provided to you within about three weeks of submission. Particularly busy times of year include the start of the first trimester (March to May) and the end of the year (November and December).

After you receive the committee’s comments, you will need to revise your application and resubmit for approval.

Preparing your application

The Human Ethics Policy and Guidelines are the core documents that regulate what the Human Ethics Committee expects from applications for ethics approval. They may contain specific guidance that relates to your research project so check them carefully.

Other useful University documents for preparing your application are:

The below documents have not been prepared by Victoria University of Wellington but they may help you in constructing your application.

Template documents

The HEC has prepared templates which you can use to develop information and consent forms for your application. You should tailor these forms to your specific project—this means removing all the guidance notes and inserting the details of your research.

If your research methods are not covered below, use the Information Sheet and Consent Form templates for Interviews and adapt it to your project.

If you have different types of participants, such as teachers and students, then you should include documents tailored to each group. These should be written for that specific audience to provide appropriate and relevant information to potential participants.


The Human Ethics Committee (HEC) and its subcommittees meet regularly throughout the year from February to December to consider applications. Category A applications (higher risk applications that require discussion at a committee meeting) are due by the deadlines below for discussion at that meeting. These deadlines do not apply to Category B applications which may be submitted at any time. Meetings are open to applicants and their supervisors by prior arrangement. Please contact the Research Office ethics team to arrange this.

2019 meeting dates

Deadline Meeting
Thursday 10 OctoberThursday 24 October
Tuesday 29 OctoberTuesday 12 November
Thursday 14 NovemberThursday 28 November
Tuesday 26 NovemberTuesday 10 December

Pipitea subcommittee

The Pipitea subcommittee meets monthly throughout the year from February to December. The deadline for applications to be submitted to the Pipitea subcommittee is the first working day of each month. Committee feedback on applications is generally available to researchers around the 20th of each month.
These meetings are open to applicants and their supervisors by prior arrangement. For any queries please contact

2019 deadline dates

Deadline Meeting
Tuesday 1 OctoberOctober
Friday 1 November November
Monday 2 DecemberDecember

School of Psychology Human Ethics Committee (SOPHEC)

The School of Psychology Human Ethics subcommittee meets fortnightly throughout the year on Thursday mornings from February to December. Applications for consideration at meetings are due two weeks before the meeting.