Permission and approval

Members of the armed forces or funding from the Ministry of Defence?

Research which involves human participants, and which is funded, or sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) must secure approval from the MOD Research Ethics Committee (MODREC).  These requirements apply to experimental research, direct data collection (e.g. interview, questionnaire or observation), or research that studies non-public domain records or documents. 

There are some exemptions to requirements for MODREC approval.  For example, epidemiological or retrospective studies involving secondary analysis of data that are in the public domain or are non-identifiable data are exempt.  If you have any doubt about whether your study might require MODREC approval, you are advised to check directly with the MODREC Secretariat, by emailing

MODREC does not accept review by other ethics committees (e.g. an NHS NRES committee), but it does require that you provide information about any other approvals you have secured, when you make your application.

You can find guidance on how to make an application on the Ministry of Defence research web pages:

If your research falls within the remit of the MOD Research Ethics Committee, we recommend that you take the time to read through all of this guidance before you make your application.


The process of MODREC approval has two phases:

  • after you submit your application, it will be sent to a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for scientific review;
  • if your application passes the SAC stage, it will be sent on to MODREC for ethics review.

As with all the approvals detailed on this website, it is important that you allow enough time to secure MODREC approval.  Because it is a two stage process, you should allow a reasonable amount of time - and it is worth checking with the MODREC Secretariat how long your application is likely to take.  It is also worth knowing that, whilst the MODREC Guidance does not specify a timescale for review, it does allow that - exceptionally and with good reason - you can request that your project is given urgent consideration.

The committee normally grants ethics approval for one year, after which time you have to reapply for an extension.  If this applies to your research, make sure you plan for this re-application within your timescale. 


The MODREC application form includes a model participant information sheet and consent form. The implication here is that you should adapt these models to your purposes.  Consequently, if you plan to deviate from them in any significant way, you might expect to be challenged on that by the committee - and you should include a careful justification of any changes within your application.