The Law Faculty Research Ethics Committee reviews all research conducted in the Faculty that involves the collection of data from or about human participants (including for example interviews, focus groups, observations or surveys with human participants and proposed research involving staff or students).
The Law Faculty Research Ethics Committee aims to work with applicants to understand the ethical imperatives of their proposed research and improve research protocols to meet the requirements of ethical conduct. This educative and facilitative function is consistent with South Africa's Constitution which prohibits participation in research without informed consent (s 12(2)(c)). The Committee's function also complies with national legislation - the National Health Act 61 of 2003 - which defines 'health' very broadly to include the well-being of all humans, and 'health research' as including 'surveys, interviews, focus groups or ethnographic observations'.
No research may begin unless clearance has been granted by the REC. No retrospective ethics clearance may be granted.
Outside visiting researchers seeking to work with UCT staff or students must do so in collaboration with a member of UCT staff.
Applications for ethics clearance are due by the 10th of every month (or the closest working day thereafter). Full ethics review and revisions frequently take up to a month or longer. Please plan your research accordingly.
Researchers conducting studies which entail only minimal risk, that do not involve the collection of any identifiable or sensitive personal data, are not contentious or are not working with any vulnerable populations (e.g. victims, minors, prisoners or other captive populations, low-income communities) may apply for expedited review by the LAWREC.
Applications for expedited review are not necessarily handled faster than other applications.
If the research involves the collection of any privately identifiable or sensitive personal data about participants (e.g. biographical information, information on disabilities, vulnerabilities, health/medical conditions) then the proposal is NOT eligible for expedited review. If the project is not judged to be of minimal risk and therefore does not meet the requirements for expedited review, it will be submitted for full review by the committee.
Exempt from Review
Research that does not involve human subjects or that uses data collected by a third party does not need to be submitted to this committee for approval. Not all information that is in the public domain is automatically exempt from review since there may be research ethics implications to the study. We recommend that the REC is contacted in order to provide applicants with confirmation that their proposed research is exempt from review.
We recommend that applicants read the UCT policy for responsible conduct of research and the UCT research ethics code for research involving human participants. If you are planning to access UCT staff or students as participants in your research, please read the UCT policy for ethics clearance and permission to engage UCT staff and/or students or their data in research.
These policies are easily found here.
We also recommend that you complete the training provided by the Office of Research Integrity before completing your application for research ethics clearance.
Attend free, virtual and in-person training sessions, bookable via SuccessFactors, on navigating the eRA System. Training sessions are offered each month with recordings made available after the virtual sessions, and include a general eRA overview, sessions on pre- and post-award processes, refresher sessions and the opportunity to book an information session for your faculty. Register for these trainings on UCT's SuccessFactors portal. Search for "eRA" in the Learning section to get started.
Please send queries to the Senior Research Administrative Officer of the LAWREC.
Applying for Ethics Clearance
Ethics clearance applications must be submitted via UCT’s electronic research administration (eRA) system.
- eRA login
Guides to Applying for Ethics Clearance
- Law guide for completing the reviewer's sheet
- Law PSQ guide for Supervisors
- Law Ethics Full Application Manual
|Dr Helena Stoop
|021 650 1936
|086 572 1093
|Ms Lamize Viljoen
|Senior Research Administration
|021 650 3080
|086 572 1093