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University of Leeds

Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People

University of Leeds via FutureLearn


Ensure your research is up to the highest ethical standards

Research ethics is vital when conducting research with people. Non ethical research may put research subjects at risk and even jeopardise the validity of the findings. As we undertake more and more research using increasingly diverse methods like the internet, it is important to get it right the first time.

On this course, you will learn the principles of ethical research, and how to manage human subject research in sensitive and appropriate ways. You will consider issues like gaining consent, making sure that personal information is handled safely, and recruiting vulnerable participants.

This course has been ranked as one of the best online courses of all time by online course aggregator class central.

This course is useful for learners undertaking research with people using social research methods such as questionnaires, interviews etc.

The course is essential for undergraduate students completing research for their final year project but it is also suitable for postgraduates and academic researchers.

The course is part of the academic skills courses portfolio at the University of Leeds aiming to improve skills required for academic study.


  • Working with people
    • Welcome
    • Research ethics: why it matters
    • What are the ethical considerations when recruiting people to your research?
    • Additional considerations for vulnerable participants
    • Summary
  • Responsibilities towards participants and their data
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Could your research cause harm?
    • How can you protect your participants personal data?
    • What are the ethical issues from researching in archives and online
    • Summary

Taught by

Natasha McKeever


4.8 rating, based on 44 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 119 ratings

Start your review of Introduction to Research Ethics: Working with People

  • Anonymous
    It is a good introduction to ethics challenges on general research. Straight to the point with examples. I think adding original articles from some of the cases seen would be valuable.
  • Anonymous
    This course was extremely helpful. Quite simple and straight to the point. I'll certainly recommend it to others
  • Anonymous
    I think this is a very nice and valuable topics. Its quite rare and maybe thats why not so many of them are interested in the class. But I found so many new valuable things that I should have know but never apply when I am doing research, so this c…
  • Anonymous
    This course was very thought-provoking. A variety of important issues were covered, which may not be given such in-depth consideration in more general preparation for undertaking research, including the history and reasons why ethical behaviour is essential.
  • Maria Luisa A. Valdez
    The course underscored some of the historical backgrounds of research ethics such as the experiments on people in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, The Nuremberg Code, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, which I found very interesting.…
  • Anonymous
    This course is a MUST for all researchers engaged in research activities/projects using human participants. It reminded me of the professional ethics that we need to observe in the performance of our duties and responsibilities.

    Thank you very much, University of Leeds!
  • Anonymous
    This was a good online course, there were sufficient different modes of delivery to keep it interesting. I hadn't understood the historical events leading to the introduction of research ethics before now, but now realise and accept the importance of research ethics in all research projects, which was a tick-the-box exercise for me until now. The examples used to illustrate risk assessment and safeguarding of data were memorable and highlight why these issues are a critical consideration for anyone involved in research of any kind.
  • Anonymous
    It's ok. A pretty basic introduction which covers a lot of ground.

    The course dwells a good deal on ghastly experiements conducted by the Nazis, along with Milgram, Tuskegee etc, which yes make for good headlines but these kinds of examples don't relate very well to small-scale social science projects i.e. the kinds of projects students mostly do in HE.

    Some useful ideas around anonymising data and consent for under 18s which is relevant though.

    Decent-enough starting point for raising issues around research in a general way.
  • Profile image for M M
    M M
    I really enjoyed the course. Though I am not researcher, but as my job is monitoring Research Ethics for my institution, this course helped me a lot in understanding ethics principles. This will also help me in review and upgrading policies for my institution.
    Thank you.
  • Anonymous
    This course helped me become aware of many ethical issues that researchers need to address before, during, and after pursuing their respective investigations. Taking this course helps researchers increase their level of professionalism in their work.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you. The course was informative. I have gained a lot of knowledge and I will use every bid of the details acquired. I would recommend it to my friends.
  • Anonymous
    This course was very helpful, in understanding the importance of ethics when working with people. Excellent case scenarios, with ethical considerations.
  • Anonymous
    This course is very informative, I learned a lot and it will help me in my future studies and research, knowing all the proper procedures and all the ethical ways and rules that I should consider before starting one.
  • Anonymous
    Very well structured course. Also, a very practical approach with all the exercises proposed.

    Covered both clinical and social research studies.

    It has definitively improved my knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    I appreciated learning about some opt forgotten steps in the research process, particularly the role ethics plays.
  • Kyi Kyi Sein
    It is a good course for beginners who study research ethics. It covers main ethical priniples. It highlighted the ethical issues in recruitment of research participants, data collection, data storage and presentations (integrity of the researchers). Furthermore, it described ethical issues in archival and Internet research.
    Illustrations with examples and case scenarios help learners' understanding. Quizzes help the learners for self-assessment and reflection of learning.
    Overall, I really satisfied with the course and I'm grateful to the course instructor for her strenuous efforts she put in this course.
  • Anonymous
    I have found this course informative and complete. Though I don't work with people, I believe this is a suitable introductory or intermediate course for beginners. It does not deal with philosophical issues but goes straight to practical ethics and that´s what I was searching for. The course provides a lot of external sources of information that greatly improve the learning experience. I strongly encourage fellow learners to join in conversations and share their thoughts in the comments window; that makes the course more interesting as we learn from others.
  • Arumadri Innocent Abiria
    This was an excellent course for me! The content of the course is appropriate for any person intending to undertake research in a professional and ethnical manner. I have learnt a lot of things that I used to do differently in research.I therefore, strongly recommend this course for any person most especially students who are underating research for their undergraduate and post graduate studies. It provides hands on skills and knowledge in doing research, with very good materials, videos, practical exercises and opportunity for reflection.
  • Anonymous
    The course is an interesting course that enhanced my understanding in research ethics which will improved my skills, level of research findings.
    It widen my knowledge on factors to when gathering, storing and using research so to fulfill it initial purposes without getting putting the researcher and the participants in trouble, that how to access the risk in the project work.
    Various illustration and relevant examples were given in the course which is timely and adequate enough for undergraduate, post graduate and other researcher
  • Anonymous
    The course has been very useful to me. As a researcher, the thoughts which i had earlier, had to map with a professional out think... and the entire course supported my thoughts well and finally the quiz clarified the few doubts and now i wish to recommend my peer to take up this course, for learning the people ethics, while researching. The case studies were truly useful and I deem it a privilege to jot down my ideas, in the comment session too.

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