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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): the heart of geography
Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

The following are responses to commonly asked questions about the Society's grants programme. If you can not find the answer to your question here, please contact the Grants Officer.

1. Do I have to be a geographer to apply for an RGS-IBG grant?

2. Do I need to be a member or a Fellow of the Society to apply for a grant?

3. Can I apply for two or more RGS-IBG grants at once?

4. I have been accepted to read a geography related undergraduate/postgraduate course and require assistance with fees and/or living costs, are there any grants that would be suitable for me?

5. I am fundraising to go on a gap year trip with another organisation, am I be eligible for support from the Society?

6. I am under 18 and/or at secondary school and would like to apply for a grant, am I be eligible for support from the Society?

7. I have a project that does not fit into any of the grants offered by the RGS-IBG, can I still apply for funds?

8. I am currently planning an expedition/fieldwork, how far in advance should I apply for a grant?

9. I am planning an expedition, do you have any resources other than the Grants Programme that will help me?

10. Can I apply for retrospective funding for a project that has already finished?

11. I have applied for a grant, when can I expect to hear the result of my application?

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1. Do I have to be a geographer to apply for an RGS-IBG grant?

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography and geographers.

The Society’s grants programme aims to promote geographical research and a wider understanding of the world. As such, it is not required that you have a geography degree, work in a geography department or define yourself as a geographer. However, it is essential that the project you are undertaking advances geographical knowledge.

Geography is the understanding of our world; from local communities to global scales. At its core are the processes by which the environments, societies and places of the world are continually shaped, changed and interact. It is of relevance to us all as not only do we carry out our lives in ‘places,’ but through our actions we increasingly change our environments – both built and natural.

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2. Do I need to be a member or a Fellow of the Society to apply for a grant?

A number of our grants specify that you must be a Fellow to apply If that is the case, this requirement is clearly stated on the grant guidelines that can be found on the individual webpage of each grant, along with any other eligibility criteria.

There are a range of benefits associated with becoming a member or Fellow of the Society, with a number of options available for individuals, schools and organisations. Membership will enable you to attend the UK's largest programme of popular geographical lectures in London and the regions of England and Wales.

It also enables you to network with others in your profession, apply for professional status as a Chartered Geographer, participate in any of 28 active research groups for scholars and access the Society’s academic journals. Fellows have unlimited use of the Foyle Reading Room and our library of maps, books, guides and have unrivalled access to our historic Collections. Fellows can also receive receive expert advice on fieldwork and expeditions.

For full details of the ways in which you can engage with the Society, visit our website:
www.rgs.org/JoinUs.

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3. Can I apply for two or more RGS-IBG grants at once?

Of the 23 grants offered through the RGS-IBG’s grants programme, 19 are awarded by the Society and four are administered by the Society on behalf of other organisations:

Society grants

Field Centre Grants

'From the Field' Goldsmiths' Award 

Geographical Fieldwork Grants

Henrietta Hutton Research Grant

Hong Kong Research Grant

Jasmin Leila Award

Journey of a Lifetime Award

Land Rover Bursary

Learning and Leading 

Monica Cole Research Grant

Neville Shulman Challenge Award

Peter Fleming Award

Ralph Brown Expedition Award

Ray Y Gildea Jr Award

RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards

Slawson Awards

Small Research Grants

Thesiger-Oman International Fellowships

Thirtieth International Geographical Congress Award

Society administered grants

Dudley Stamp Memorial Award

Frederick Soddy Award

Geographical Club Award

Gilchrist Fieldwork Award

Candidates may have only one Society grant application pending at any one time, but may apply for any number of Society-administered grants. The exception is the Henrietta Hutton and Monica Cole Research Grants; applicants can apply for both.

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4. I have been accepted to read a geography related undergraduate/postgraduate course and require assistance with fees and/or living costs, are there any grants that would be suitable for me?

The Society’s grants programme provides funds for geographical research and fieldwork; unfortunately we do not have grants to assist with fees or living costs while studying for a degree.

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5. I am fundraising to go on a gap year trip with another organisation, would I be eligible for support from the Society?

Unfortunately, the Society does not have grants to assist with the costs of pre-organised gap years. However, the Society’s Learning and Leading Gap Year Scholarships offer bursaries of up to £4,000 plus expert support and mentoring to help plan a worthwhile gap experience.

The Society also has resources with useful advice on planning a gap year, a bulletin of expedition vacancies, a register of personnel available for expeditions, as well as running a number of fieldwork and expedition seminars and workshops throughout the year for people planning research and expeditions. For further details, please visit Geography Outdoors or email go@rgs.org.

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6. I am under 18 and/or at secondary school and would like to apply for a grant, would I be eligible for support from the Society?

The RGS-IBG grants programme unfortunately does not offer grants to students at school.

However, our Learning and Leading programme provides bursaries for maintained school A Level students to participate in fieldwork summer schools in the UK. Each summer, we hold a fully funded residential fieldwork summer school for geography students at the end of their first year of AS/Highers (or equivalent) who would not normally have such opportunities.

We also offer grants to geography teachers to help them develop innovative and exciting new lessons.

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7. I have a project that does not fit into any of the grants offered by the RGS-IBG, can I still apply for funds?

The Society only offers funds to projects through its existing grants. However, we also maintain a database of other funding organisations which may have opportunities more suitable to your circumstances. We encourage you to look through this even if you apply for an RGS-IBG grant.

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8. I am currently planning an expedition/fieldwork, how far in advance should I apply for a grant?

When fundraising for an expedition or overseas fieldwork, it is important to strike a balance between applying for a grant too early and not having made detailed enough plans to be able to put forward a convincing argument for funding, and applying too late and finding that the administrative process for the award will take too long for decisions to be made in time. The application process for each of the Society’s awards varies, with some requiring multiple applications and interviews and others requiring only an application form to be completed. Full details on the process for each award can be found on each grant’s webpage.

In general, the application process lasts between three to four months, so it is important to apply for grants with an application deadline no less than four months before your planned departure date. The majority of the Society’s grants are awarded annually; if there is an award that appears particularly appropriate to your circumstances but does not fit in with your schedule, it may be necessary to apply for it a year early. If in doubt, contact the Grants Officer.

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9. I am planning an expedition, do you have any resources other than the Grants Programme that will help me?

The Society has a wealth of resources to assist expeditioners.

Geography Outdoors (GO) provides information, advice and training to anyone planning overseas fieldwork. Expedition teams and groups are strongly advised to contact Geography Outdoors at an early stage in their planning to benefit from the expert knowledge available throughout the planning process. GO maintains a database of projects and expeditions which are being planned each year to help those planning similar ventures, as well as a library of past expedition reports which can be consulted. GO also advises on other sources of funding, organises a series of seminars, workshops and training days, and runs Explore, the annual expedition and fieldwork planning weekend. For full details of the services and resources offered by GO, please visit: www.rgs.org/go

The Society's Collections comprise over two million documents, maps, photographs, paintings, periodicals, artefacts and books, and span 500 years of geography, travel and exploration. These too are an invaluable resource to find out more about past studies and parts of the world. For more information contact Collections or visit the Society.

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10. Can I apply for retrospective funding for a project that has already finished?

The Society does not consider applications for retrospective funding. See question 8 for when to apply.

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11. I have applied for a grant, when can I expect to hear the result of my application?

The application process for each grant is different, and may involve submission of two proposals and interviews, as well as training days. Full details can be found in the guidelines PDF for each award on the individual grant webpage. In general, the application process lasts between three to four months, though this may be extended if there are delays in scheduling interviews. All candidates, whether successful or unsuccessful in their application, will be contacted with details of the outcome.

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