Ethics Review of Course-based Research

What do I need before I can begin?

Course instructors should first determine if the course in question will include a research project that will be similar for all students (e.g. follow a course template), or if students will conduct individual projects. If the latter, will these be new student-initiated projects, or projects within a faculty member’s approved research.

Students required to conduct a human research project should speak to their course instructor to determine through which process ethics approval will be obtained.

Course-based Research

Course-based Research includes all human research activities that are assigned within an undergraduate or graduate course to teach students research skills. They are not intended to produce generalizable knowledge or to extend the literature in the relevant field or discipline. Course-based research does not include graduate theses.

Course Templates

Course templates are used when the research assignment involving human participants has strict parameters with respect to the research methodology and the participant group.

When course templates are used, the course instructor is responsible for writing all aspects of the ethics application (including template information and consent forms, recruitment scripts and sample questions or tools) and receiving Research Ethics Board ( REB) approval before handing out the assignment. The course instructor is responsible for sharing the templates and reviewing the specific details with the students. Any approved projects that fall outside of the parameters of the template, must be submitted as a student-initiated project (below).

Course template protocols must be submitted through the My Research Human Protocols (MRHP) portal and will be reviewed by the appropriate REB or Delegated Ethics Review Committee (DERC) member.

Student-initiated Projects

Student-initiated projects are individualized assignments within a course. The course instructor acts as supervisor and should assign students access to the MRHP system to fill out the research ethics application. Please contact the RAISE team with questions regarding this process.

Projects within Approved faculty-Level Studies

Faculty supervisors may choose to assign parts of their approved research to students for course-based research. In these situations, an amendment request should be submitted through MRHP for REB review. A new research ethics application is not needed unless the project extends beyond the scope of what has REB approval.


  • Consult and advise on how to create and submit a course-based research ethics application

  • Advise on when an amendment or new application is required

  • Coordinate reviews of course-based research ethics applications

VPRI Contact


Dean Sharpe

Research Ethics Manager, Social Sciences, Humanities & Education
Research Oversight & Compliance Office (ROCO)
(416) 978-5585


Daniel Gyewu

Research Ethics Manager, Health Sciences
Research Oversight & Compliance Office (ROCO)
(416) 978-3165


Other Resources