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Durham University

University Committees

Ethics Committee

Standing Orders

(Joint Governance committee of Senate and Council)

These Standing Orders should be read in conjunction with the Joint Standing Orders of Senate and Council.

Membership (Composition)

(Members 2021/22)
A Chair who shall be a lay member of Council Mr Nigel Perry (2024) (18)
A Vice-Chair who shall be a member of Senate Professor Simon Gardiner (2024) (21)
Ex officio members:
Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Colin Bain
The Chairs of the Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees:
  • Arts and Humanities
Dr Richard Huzzey
  • Business
Dr Yeqin Zeng
  • Science
Professor Jun Jie Wu
  • Social Sciences and Health
Dr Karen Hind
The President of the Durham Students' Union (an observer to be sent if unavailable) Miss Seun Twins
The Head of Research Policy Mr Niall O'Loughlin
University Secretary

Mrs Alison Blackburn

Appointed members:
A lay member of Council The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett (2024) (18)
A professional NHS medical practitioner with expertise of the NRES ethical review process Mr Andrew Owens (2024) (15)
Three academic staff of the University appointed for their academic expertise in relation to Ethics Professor Toby Breckon (2023) (20)
Dr Simon Ness (2023) (20)
Dr Sarah Wootton (2023) (17)
A full date after a member's name indicates that their term of office will expire on the 31 July in that year and a half date indicates the year of appointment of that member. eg (2021) (15) indicates that the member was appointed in 2015 and their term of office will expire on the 31 July 2021.


Maria Towes.

Period of Appointment

The period of appointment of all appointed members and the Chair is three years, renewable for a further term of three years. Members’ appointment dates should allow for rotation in the overall membership.


The Committee will normally meet once each term.


The quorum is 50% of members and must include one lay member of Council.

Terms of Reference

a) To provide an ethical perspective and advice to inform management decisions on specific issues which might pose significant ethical and/or reputational risk to the University.

b) To advise on the development of institutional policies and guidelines relating to ethical issues arising from research and other activities. In so doing the Committee shall consider: the University Strategy, policies and procedures; the Codes of Professional Practice and Codes of Ethics to which individual service/academic Departments, Schools and Faculties may be subject; and the requirements of regulatory agencies and of applicable laws.

c) To foster an environment in which ethics and integrity are firmly embedded in the University’s ethos and culture and ensure there are appropriate structures for the ethical approval of activities.

d) To consider and make recommendations to Senate and Council on ethical issues as the Committee deems appropriate or as requested by these and other relevant bodies.

e) To monitor the University's compliance with the Concordat to support Research Integrity.

f) To approve changes to the Standing Orders of its Sub-Committees.

g) To provide guidance on cases of uncertainty raised by Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees.

h) To receive reports on activity from the Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees, the Human Tissue Board and the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board. To review annually reports from the Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees including the consolidated lists of activity from Department/School Ethics Sub-Committees.

i) To provide an annual assurance report, in support of Council’s responsibility for the ethical governance of the University, and provide regular reports to Senate and Council on the operation of the committee.

j) The Committee shall be empowered to obtain external legal or other independent professional advice. (Normally the Vice-Chancellor and Chair of Council shall be consulted before such action is taken. Any expenditure in excess of £15,000 shall require the prior authorisation of Council.)

Devolution of Ethical Review Responsibilities to the Ethics Sub-Committees

k) The Committee formally delegates to the Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees the authority to assess and determine staff and student applications from within or across Faculties and Departments/Schools for all research, teaching, learning, and other projects which involve human participants and/or raise ethical issues.

l) The Committee recognises the entitlement of each Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee to request advice from the Committee on problematic issues. Departmental/ School Ethics Sub-Committees are entitled to request advice from the appropriate Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee.

m) The Committee delegates responsibility to the Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees to consider and approve changes to the Standing Orders of the Department/School Ethics Sub-Committees.

n) Staff and student appeals against the decision made by a Departmental/School Ethics Sub-Committee will be heard by the relevant Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee. An appeal against the decision made by a Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee will normally be heard by another Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee as determined by the Chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee. In exceptional cases an appeal may be referred to the Ethics Advisory Committee.


Maria Towes

0191 334 6264

Jessica Morgan

0191 334 6279