Export controls

Controls over strategic goods or technology (collectively referred to as “Export Controls”) have been enacted in the UK for decades, with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) provisions in relation to transfers of technology or technical assistance being in place from at least 2004. By international law, all countries which are members of the UN have been required since 2004 to maintain a system of Export Controls in order to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This requirement affects not just commercial entities, but applies to all entities (commercial or non-commercial) including universities and researchers that might ‘export’. In rare cases it is possible that export controls may impact on teaching. The following three questions are being posed to determine whether or not your proposed programme may be impacted by export controls.

Q1 Do any of the modules taught within this programme cover any of the following topics beyond “basic scientific research [1]” which potentially could be used for military applications or the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)?

Topics may include:

  • Nuclear Materials, Facilities & Equipment
  • Special Materials and Related Equipment such as alloys, composites, and similar; and chemical weapon precursors and toxins
  • Advanced manufacturing equipment, including high-accuracy multi-axis machine tools
  • Advanced electronic components with potential military, space, or nuclear applications
  • Nanosciences or Nanotechnology
  • High-performance and high-accuracy computers
  • Communications and information security equipment, including some commercial grades of encryption
  • Sensors & Lasers
  • Equipment that can be used for military navigation, including shock-proof gyros and accelerometers etc
  • Underwater equipment
  • Space and aerospace technology
  • Chemical, biosciences or biological research/ technology

Q2 Where a module or programme does cover any of the above topics, is there any instance in which the content of the module or programme relies on unpublished research findings, or is all of the content in the “public domain [2]”?

Q3 Where there is any use of unpublished research, would the findings of said research, be required and necessary for the use, development or production of any items that had military applications or for the production of WMDs?

(In this instance, required and necessary means that without the information/knowledge the end point could not be reached).


 [1]  “basic scientific research” is defined as “experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire knowledge of the fundamental principles or phenomena or observable facts and not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective” according to the  Higher Education Guide And Toolkit On Export Controls And The ATAS Student Vetting Scheme.


 [2] “public domain” is defined as “available without restriction upon further dissemination (no account being taken of restrictions arising solely from copyright)” according to the Higher Education Guide and Toolkit on Export Controls and the ATAS Student Vetting Scheme.


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