Research Involving Animals Research Involving Animals

Before UEA staff or students undertake research on protected animals (as defined by the UK Home Office, and comprising all vertebrates and cephalopods), including observational studies, an assessment of the proposed research needs to be undertaken by the UEA Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB). Retrospective applications for ethical review are not acceptable. For advice on applications, please contact the Chair of AWERB.

Research on Invertebrates

Research on invertebrates does not normally require ethical oversight by AWERB, unless the animal(s) involved are protected species, the research involves highly destructive sampling techniques, and/or may be damaging to the environment. Researchers need to consider whether editors of journals or grant-awarding bodies will request evidence of prior ethical review of their research when submitting research papers or grant applications. See links below for codes of conduct for invertebrate research and further information on protected species and conservation designations in the UK.

Field based projects

For field based projects in the UK or abroad consideration needs to be given not just to the focal species of the research but also to the wider environment: are there protected species present at sites proposed for the collecting, surveying, sampling that may be disturbed by your proposed project? If so, have you checked whether you need a licence? For example, if your work involves sampling aquatic invertebrates in the south and east of the UK, you should check the site for protected species such as Norfolk hawker (Anaciaeschna Isosceles) or great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), as a licence may be required to collect or survey at these sites due to potential disturbance.

Ethics Review of Teaching Modules Involving the Use of Animals

Supervisers of animal research projects undertaken as part of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching modules should be fully aware of their obligations with regard to animal research ethics, and will need to apply for permission in advance from AWERB. Ethical clearance may be granted for modules where the projects being conducted within such modules are generic and predictable, and the methodologies do not change year by year.

When a School is developing and setting up a NEW MODULE,  if there are any research exercises, rather than individually chosen dissertations,  whether assessed or unassessed, which will require students to use animals, the Module Organiser must seek ethical approval for the module, prior to it being offered, via AWERB. Also, for an EXISTING MODULE, when introducing material encompassing the use of animals, an ethics review of the module must also be sought by AWERB before it is next offered to students

As a general rule, research ethics permission may be granted for a defined period of up to 5 years. It is the module organiser’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate research ethics permission is obtained, and to submit a new application before the expiry date, or if any aspect of the project is significantly changed.

Application Procedure

Applicants should complete an Animal Ethics Information Form. An electronic copy of the form should be sent to the BIO School Manager, and a signed hard copy should be handed into the BIO General Office in room 01.36.

The AWERB will conduct an assessment to ensure that the research is ethical, justified, well designed (i.e. statistically and scientifically robust) and complies with all legislative requirements, and whether the applicant has considered the basic principles of replacement, reduction and refinement.


Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

Researchers should be aware that UEA is a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK. As such, we are committed to being more open about our use of animals in research and to abide by the following four commitments.

  • Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  • Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  • Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  • Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences

In order to fulfil the requirements of the Concordat, we ask that all UEA and NRP researchers follow the ARRIVE guidelines when submitting animal-based research for publication.


Links to further information:

DMU website

UK Home Office website

UEA Research Ethics Policy and Guidance Notes

Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

Understanding Animal Research

National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

British Entomological & Natural History Society – Collection of Reference Specimens

Amateur Entomologists’ Society – Code of conduct for collecting insects and other invertebrates

Joint Nature Conservation Committee – UK Legislation, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Joint Nature Conservation Committee – Conservation Designations for UK Taxa


Links to Documents:

Animal Ethics Information Form

ARRIVE guidelines

Midterm/End of Project Report

AWERB Annual Report Form