Applying for human ethics approval

The University has a Human Ethics Committee (HEC) whose chief function is to review, approve and monitor any research proposal involving human participants.

The HEC administers the Victoria University of Wellington Human Ethics Policy, which sets out the procedures that must be followed by staff and students when conducting research involving human participants. This policy should be read in conjunction with the Victoria University of Wellington Human Ethics Guidelines.

The HEC is the University’s main ethics committee. It is convened by Associate Professor Susan Corbett.

Some faculties and schools in the University have Human Ethics subcommittees with approval powers delegated from the University Human Ethics Committee.

Human Ethics Committee application process

Find out what you'll need to do to apply for human ethics approval.

Does your research need ethics approval?

If your research involves human participants or human tissue or affects people’s privacy, rights and freedoms, it is subject to the Human Ethics Policy. You should read the Human Ethics Policy and Guidelines carefully and ensure that you are familiar with basic ethical issues, principles and practices.

Before seeking HEC approval

Before seeking HEC approval, academic staff should discuss the ethical implications of their research or teaching activity with their Head of School (HOS) or other person to whom responsibility has been delegated in the School. Students should discuss their projects with supervisors.

Responsibility for applying for HEC approval

Responsibility for applying for HEC approval rests with the applicant, but the application must be approved and countersigned by the HOS. Student applications must also be approved and countersigned by the supervisor.

If there is any doubt about the need for HEC approval, you should seek advice from your HOS or the Convener of the HEC.

Applying for approval

Applications to the Human Ethics Committee and Subcommittees (including applications for teaching approval and postgraduate students) should be made online through ResearchMaster.

Log into ResearchMaster using your usual University username and password. Refer to Using the Online Ethics Form—Guide for Applicants, if you require assistance to complete your application online.

If you do not have access to ResearchMaster, download the Access to Ethics Online Applications form, complete the details and email it to:

The Convener of the Committee to which you applied will advise you of the outcome.

Template documents


Category A applications must be received by the Human Ethics Committee two weeks before the meeting date in order to be accepted for consideration. Submissions close at midday on the due date.

The application deadlines and meeting dates for 2017 are as follows:

Deadline Meeting
1 June 15 June
29 June 13 July
3 August 17 August
31 August 14 September
28 September 12 October
2 November 16 November

Health research

‘Health Research’ is research that

  • aims to generate knowledge for the purpose of improving health and independence outcomes, or
  • accesses identifiable health information; or
  • involves the collection of human tissue or genetic information

Some health research projects (for example, clinical trials, intervention studies, projects funded by the Health Research Council) require approval from a Health and Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC). The HDECs are operated by the Ministry of Health and accredited by the Health Research Council.

You can find out more at the Ministry's website.

HDEC provides a flowchart that can help you to decide whether your project would come under its scope. If you are still unsure, you should submit the HDEC Scope of Review form and HDEC will advise you whether to proceed with it for review, or alternatively that your application should remain with the University's HEC.

Please note that if you do submit an HDEC application you must add the Human Ethics Convenor as sponsor for your application. If you gain HDEC approval, please notify the Human Ethics Administrator. Your HDEC approval will be recognised and recorded by  Victoria University of Wellington HEC.

Discuss Human Ethics applications

To discuss a Human Ethics application, contact: