Linguistics and English Language

Research Passports

If you are going to be working with NHS resources or patients as part of your research, you will need to complete an extensive clearance check process

The Research Passport (RP) is the National Health Service (NHS) system for issuing honorary research contracts or letters of access to higher education institution researchers who need to undertake research activities within the NHS. The research passport application provides evidence of pre-engagement checks undertaken on the researcher in line with NHS Employment Check Standards. These are then checked by the NHS Research and Development (R&D) office in order to evaluate the appropriate outcome of the application.

Who needs a Research Passport?

If your research will involve you using NHS facilities, recruiting NHS patients as participants for your study or accessing NHS patient information you will be required to complete an RP application.


The application process itself is fairly straightforward; however, confirmation on pre-engagement checks and the application for disclosure can take some time so it is important that you complete the RP process as soon as you have your research activities confirmed.

Please note: You should ideally plan to start the RP process at least 3-4 months prior to the start of your research project to be on the safe side.

Pre-engagement checks and supporting documentation

The RP requires 2 main pre-engagement checks to be carried out:

  1. Criminal Record Check In Scotland, the organisation in charge of criminal record checks is called Disclosure Scotland. There are 3 levels of check available through Disclosure Scotland: Basic, Standard and Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG). Each level checks into your background to a different degree. The appropriate level for you will be confirmed based on your statement of activity. Please note: if you are an EU student from outside the UK you may need to provide a criminal record check from your home town in addition to your disclosure for inclusion in your RP application. If you are a Tier 4 student your home criminal record check was carried out as part of your visa application.
  2. Occupational Health Check You may need to have an occupational health check in order to complete your RP application. The appropriate level of health check will be determined by your statement of activity and the relevant Postgraduate Office will be able to advise you on how to get the necessary certificates. Please note: if you require an Occupational Health Check you must have a record of your vaccinations with you. You may need to get this from your family doctor.

In addition you will be required to attach an up to date CV in the NHS format. You will find links to this on the RP application form.

Application process

  1. Optional: set up a meeting with the relevant Postgraduate Office to discuss the application process.
  2. Confirm what your research will involve. Discuss this will your supervisor and complete the Statement of Activity form. If you are working with other students on the same project please work together to write a single statement of activity for all of you.
  3. Submit your statement of activity to the relevant Postgraduate Office.
  4. PG Office evaluates your statement of activity in consultation with disclosure advisors and colleagues in order to determine the appropriate level of clearance required for the activities.
  5. PG Office confirms the required level of clearance with you and advises you on the application process.
  6. Once you have received the appropriate paperwork, let the PG Office know and they will give you the RP form for completion.
  7. Complete the RP form and get this signed off by your supervisor.
  8. Return the completed RP form and supporting documentation to the PG Office.
  9. The PG Office will check the application submission, sign it off and submit it to the NHS R&D office for processing.
  10. The NHS R&D office considers your application and may request clarification on details from the PG Office.


If you require a PDF document in an alternative format, such as large print or a coloured background, please email or contact the Postgraduate Office.


The Postgraduate Offices are on hand to provide advice on the RP process and will keep track of the various parts of the application chasing where necessary when responses are pending from external bodies (e.g. Disclosure Scotland and NHS). Students can submit documentation to the PG Office as they receive it in order to build up their application materials and keep them safe.

Postgraduate Office enquiries

Contact details



Room G.05
Dugald Stewart Building


  • Monday to Friday:
    9.30 am to 12.30 pm
    1.30 pm to 5.00 pm

    If you would like to talk to a member of the team, please email us and we will respond as quickly as possible.

If you are a student in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine the College Postgraduate Office in the Chancellor’s Building, Little France will be able to help you: Kim Orsi.

If you are a member of staff in the School of PPLS please contact the Director of Professional Services for further information on the application process for staff.