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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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The risk assessment procedure is designed to ensure there is appropriate risk management in place for the activities of students and staff.  The Department works with a broad notion of risk and as such, risk assessments are required for all research outside of Cambridge for more than one day at a time. There may also be research that does not involve travel outside of Cambridge, but may still involve risk and therefore require a risk assessment, for example, participation in internet forums or conducting online interviews. 

The University distinguishes between three levels of risk: low, medium and high.  For further guidance, on what constitutes risk at each level please view the risk rating table.

As indicated in the table, the risk is primarily based on the travel advice given by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).  In order to establish the risk rating to the area you are travelling to, please visit their website for foreign travel advice.  If it is unclear which level of risk applies to your case, please discuss with your supervisor (for students) or the Chair of the ERF Committee - (for staff).

Different levels of risk require different forms to be completed.  Please select the relevant form from the link below:

Travel Risk Assessment Forms | Safeguarding Work Away (

If you are not sure if your research requires a risk assessment, please consult your supervisor (for students) or the Chair of the ERF Committee - (for staff). 

No research should be undertaken unless approval has been granted by the Ethics, Risk and Fieldwork committee.

Risk Assessment Training and Procedure

The training provided in the link below is aimed at students to help them produce a comprehensive risk assessment which will then be reviewed by the ERF Committee.

N.B First year PhD students are required to do this training as part of their programme.  This must be completed prior to the First Year Registration exercise and confirmation of completion must be added to your Student Progress Log.

There is also a guidance document with lots of information and links to also assist in this process.


Please see the relevant deadlines by which to submit your risk assessments to your programme administrators.  Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in your application not being considered by the committee in time for you to conduct your research.


Students doing dissertation in 2023-24:

  • 19th June 2023 (required if wanting to do research that requires Ethical Approval over the summer).
  • 16th October 2023

Students doing dissertation in 2024-25:

  • 17th June 2024  (required if wanting to do research that requires Ethical Approval over the summer).
  • 21st October 2024

You can only do your research once you have approval so please consider which deadline would be most appropriate for your schedule


  • MPhil students 

    All students  (applications for research)

  • 3rd November2023 (if wanting to do research in the Christmas break, or for students needing early approval so that they can make travel arrangements).
  • 22nd January 2024


  • MPP students (applications for work placements)

  • 15th February 2024


  • PhDs students

  • 7th June 2024  (First year PhD students - Submit as part of your first year registration materials). 
  • Second and Third year PhD students - select the correct application form using the flowchart below and return it to your Course Administrator by the following dates. 

  •     2nd November
  •     15th February 2024
  •     23rd May 2024

These dates ensure that you apply more than one term prior to the commencement of the research that requires ethical approval.


Can submit at any time and will be considered on a rolling basis.

Masters and PhD students (with the exception of MSt students) who wish to carry out research that requires travel away from Cambridge for more than two weeks at a time, will also have to do a Leave to Work Away application. 

All applications for Ethics, Risk and LTWA must be submitted along with the ERF coversheet, so that we can quickly identify what approvals you need. This form will need to be signed by your supervisor. Click here to download the ERF Coversheet Template.