Human Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC)


The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity (2010), developed during the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in 2010, foregrounds the importance of adhering to “particular principles and professional responsibilities that are fundamental to the integrity of research wherever it is undertaken”. This requires that all researchers should acknowledge and enact the principles of honesty and accountability and endeavour to display professional courtesy, fairness and good stewardship toward all persons involved in any scientific inquiry.

To this end, the HSSREC-team is committed to advise and assist you to the best of our ability to comfortably (yet critically) navigate your way through the ethics process. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions relating to your ethics application.

When do you submit an ethics application to HSSREC?

Registered with the National Health Research Ethics Council (NHREC).

This ethics committee manages all medium and high risk research ethics applications from the Faculty of Humanities on the three campuses of the NWU. Refer to the risk-level descriptors page below for more information on ‘high risk’ descriptors.

Please consult the following pages which will guide you through the steps of the ethics application, the documents that you are required to complete and submit and our contact details.

No post facto ethics approval will be granted

In an email dated 11 November 2019, the Deputy Dean, Research and Innovation, professor Mirna Nel, communicated the following information relating to retrospective ethics approval for studies:
Please note that if there are still students and projects where data have been collected but there is no ethics approval (including no and low risk studies) no post facto approval can be given. After 30 January 2020 the study leader and student will have to take responsibility to re-collect data (with ethics approval), as submission of the study for examination will not be allowed otherwise. No exceptions will be made in this regard.

How do you submit your ethics application to HSSREC?

Please email your full application to the HSSREC Administrator.

You submit amendments and monitoring reports via email to the HSSREC Administrator.

Monitoring and Incident Reports

NWU Gatekeeper approvals: Process, documentation and dates

Please note that all research conducted with NWU staff and students require NWU Gatekeeper approval from the NWU Registrar.

You apply for this after you have been granted ethics approval. The BaSSREC and HSSREC are not involved in this process – please direct your queries directly to Ms Feziwe Mseleni.

The dates for the NWU Registrar’s gatekeeper meetings for 2022 include the following. Please note that the agenda for these meetings closes seven days prior to the meeting.

  • 24 February 2023
  • 17 March 2023
  • 19 April 2023
  • 2 May 2023
  • 30 June 2023
  • 14 July 2023
  • 18 August 2023
  • 12 September 2023
  • 13 October 2023
  • 7 November 2023
  • 4 December 2023

Documents to include as part of your NWU Gatekeeper application:

  • The NWU Gatekeeper Application Form: Click here to access this form.
  • The ethics committee approval letter/certificate.
  • The approved research proposal.
  • The signed and approved informed consent statement/leaflet.
  • Examples of the data collection instruments (e.g. questionnaire; interview guide; interview schedule).


Submit your application to Ms Feziwe Mseleni at least seven days before the specific meeting.

Steps in the ethics application process

Very important: ALL complete ethics applications have to be submitted via email to

Risk levels

COVID-19 information for researchers

Important documentation and templates to include in your ethics application

Research with children: Important documentation and templates to include in your ethics application

When conducting research with minors (participants 18-years and younger), please use the following templates of the HSSREC Informed Consent Statement:

Very important: In those studies, involving minors, both the parents/legal guardians and the children have to provide permission to participate (i.e. consent and assent, respectively).

If either party does not provide permission, the research with those participants may not continue.


Ethics training

As part of your ethics application, the supervisor and primary investigator (e.g. postgraduate student) have to submit proof of Ethics Training. Proof of such training should accompany your ethics application. The BaSSREC and HSSREC Committees are in the process of compiling Ethics Training for students and staff in the Faculty of Humanities. As soon as this training is available we will inform our staff and students.

In the meantime, if you have not completed any ethics training before, you need to choose between the following two options:

MacQuarie University Online Social Science Ethics Training

The MacQuarie University offers this free online educational resource which focuses on the specific ethical issues social science and humanities students encounter in their research. The training module comprise six components. Read through each of the six parts and then complete the quiz related to the material. After the successful completion of the quiz you will be issued with a certificate that you have to attach to your ethics application.

Click on the following link to register and complete their Social Sciences Ethics Training Course:


TRREE Online Ethics Training

If you are unable to attend any of the above sessions or rather prefer to do so, you may complete the following free online Training and Resources In Research Ethics Evaluation (TRREE) modules:

After the successful completion of each module, you will be provided with four certificates that you have to attach to your ethics application.

Faculty of Humanities’ Ethics Information Session: Recordings

Please consult the following links below to assist you with compiling and refining your ethics application before submitting it to the REC. These are the recordings of the information session hosted by Proff Susan Coetzee Van Rooy and Jacques Rothmann:

Important dates for 2024

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Documents

Contact persons for enquiries

Chairperson: BaSSREC and HSSREC