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Geographical Fieldwork Grants

Students from the University of Cambridge set up measuring equipment at the vent of the Puyehue volcano, ChileThe Geographical Fieldwork Grant is the Society's longest running grant scheme. Every year, we help upwards of 20 teams of students and researchers get into the field, through this grant scheme.

Several grants are available up to £3,000.


18 January (each year)


 Geographical Fieldwork Grant guidelines (PDF)
 Geographical Fieldwork Grant Application Form (MSWORD)
 Code of Practice for the Grants Programme (PDF)

Advice for Applicants

  Geographical Fieldwork Grant Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
  Expedition Handbook: advice on completing expedition reports and risk assessments

  Listen to recipients of the Geographical Fieldwork Grant in 2011 talk of their volcano field project in Chile.


2014 Geographical Fieldwork Grant recipients

 Dr Natalya Reznichenko (Durham University) ‘Reinterpreting the palaeogeomorphological record in the Alai Valley, Northern Pamir’

This project will examine the enigmatic expansive boulder hummocky terrain in the Alai Valley between Northern Pamir and Southern Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan. The team will investigate the genesis and formation of the landforms and deposits by using geomorphological, sedimentological and dating approaches, including landform mapping from remotely sensed imagery and employing GIS, sediment logging and sampling specifically to determine rock avalanche signatures.

 Dr Ilya Maclean (University of Exeter) ‘Spatial priorities for papyrus endemic bird conservation’

Papyrus swamps, the most common freshwater wetland in East-central Africa, are under severe threat from drainage, harvesting and habitat degradation.  However, papyrus swamps are a naturally fragmented habitat, comprising numerous small swamps which are likely to play a key role in sustaining regional populations of these species through meta-population dynamic processes. This project will identify the presence/absence of each species within each swamp, and establish relationships between the relative abundance of species and vegetation characteristics.

 Samuel Crofts and Joseph Cooper (University of Sussex) ‘Habitat use by bats in tropical lowland and mountain forest’

Despite comprising a large proportion of Ecuadorian mammalian diversity, only a limited number of projects have targeted Chiroptera for research. This project proposes will provide the first bat databases for these regions, alongside an assessment of the ecological stability of current agricultural regimes.

Tesni Woodfall and Rebecca Weighell (University of Sussex) ‘How are women in Bangladesh adapting to Climate Change?’

The overall aim is to understand how rural women in Bangladesh adapt to climate change; researching health and sanitation advances and migration. The migration section of the research will look for migration patterns and the implications of the relocation on women. Health risks will be examined through advances in adaptation and education to reduce vulnerability to disease, contaminated water and exploitation.

 Christopher John Thorpe-Dixon (Plymouth University) ‘A comparative biogeographic study of the Sadas, Northern Western Ghats.’

The northern Western Ghats, India, are characterised by lateritic plateaus, Sadas, which have a barren appearance in the dry season and are biogeographically and ecologically un-researched.  Subjected to latitudinal and longitudinal gradients in rainfall, temperature, number of dry months with differing geomorphology it is anticipated they will function as isolated habitat islands with high levels of individuality. The study aims to answer the question ‘are all the plateaus the same?’

Augusta Thomson (University of Oxford) ‘Evolving Relationships: New Media and Mongolian Women Across the Gobi’

This research expedition will investigate how the use of new media platforms across the Gobi Desert may be mediating new understandings of individual and collective Mongolian female identities. There is widespread access to communications technology in Mongolia; thus, the project will investigate how globalization, through new media platforms, is shifting traditional pastoralist views of Mongolian female identity, and its corresponding relationship to urbanization, Buddhist revivalism, and mining initiatives.

Natalie Bakker (King's College London) ‘Hydrological and Ecological Impact of Environmental Change at Mangabe, Madagascar’

Our expedition in the Mangabe area of Madagascar aims to investigate environmental land use/land cover changes, and research the influence of this on local hydrology and ecology. This would fill in the gap of environmental knowledge in this area, and can be used to determine optimal management strategies for local communities.

Hannah Smith (University of Exeter) ‘Expedition Loholoka 2014’

The littoral dry forest of Loholoka contains a huge amount of biodiversity, and with only one preliminary research project completed on the location, it is highly likely that there are a number of both threatened and endemic species which inhabit the area. The focus of the expedition will be to study the biodiversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, Invertebrates and the flora found in the Loholoka forest.

Robert Waugh and Nicola Andrews (University of Glasgow) ‘The University of Glasgow River Survey Expedition’

The aim of the expedition is to accurately map the exact locations and compile habitat surveys of 4 tributary rivers within the Manu Learning Centre (MLC) which run into the Madre de Dios, Peru. Using these maps the team will study mammals, aves, lepidoptera and amphibian distribution and abundance throughout the river system using a variety of methods such as camera traps, visual encounter surveys and track and scat surveys. The tributaries pass through areas of differing human disturbance history, which will allow them to analyse how disturbance affects wildlife and the ecosystem as a whole.

Prince Frank (Queen Mary, University of London) ‘Assessing abiotic and biotic responses within a mangrove ecosystem’

This project aims to assess a variety of components that contribute to the mangrove ecosystem situated on the island of Barbuda in the Lesser Antilles, a region in the Eastern Caribbean. Although the project will be investigated as three individual undergraduate dissertation projects they will collectively build a greater understanding of Barbudas mangrove environment, which currently has little/no publications relating to this specific topic, thus providing a greater knowledge of the ecosystem to sustain conservation within this particular area of the world.

Erin Evans (University of Glasgow) ‘University of Glasgow Exploration Society: Iceland Expedition 2014’

This expedition aims to increase biological and geographical knowledge of this fragile high latitude environment, directly aiding management plans for the Reserve and developing the students’ research and fieldwork skills; the various projects complement each other and will develop the student’s skills and the Reserve’s knowledge of the land which is suffering ecological stresses.

Katie Reinhardt (Oxford Brookes University) ‘Effects of climate change on behaviour of Nycticebus javanicus’

Conducting field research on the Javan slow Loris, Nycticebus javanicus, this project examines the effect(s) of climate change on this species’ behaviour and microclimate use in Java, Indonesia. Due to increasing need for local agricultural farming, this endemic species has become increasingly restricted to altitudes above 800 m. These anthropogenic effects create a requirement of the lorises in this geographic region to adapt to fragmented forests of increased elevation and lower temperatures. While slow lorises have been known to enter torpor in lower temperatures, implications for this behaviour remain little known.

Lilidh MacLeod (University of Glasgow) ‘The University of Glasgow Bolivia Expedition 2014’

This expedition aims to assess the conservation status of the Reserva Barba Azul (RBA) in the Beni region of Bolivia by comparing areas completely protected from grazing, heavily grazed areas and areas of intermediate regeneration. The project focus is to assess the impact on biodiversity of reduced grazing pressure/habitat protection. The team will conduct comparative surveys of key species and assess differences in overall diversity between RBA north, south & east, each of which is exposed to a different amount of grazing pressure.

Miranda Singleton (University of Glasgow) ‘Egypt Marine Expedition 2014’

This expedition aims to continue and develop work conducted by the Glasgow University Exploration Society in 2013: to investigate the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on coral reefs around El Quseir, Egypt, and explore traditional fishing practices and attitudes in associated Bedouin communities.

 Jessica Howard-Johnston (University College London) ‘Developmental and educational outreach: refugees in Western Uganda’

This project aims to research the economic and social impacts of living as a refugee in Uganda, comparing aspirations, education and gendered practices to the lives of young Ugandan citizens. Looking specifically at students, the team hope to develop lasting links, thereby providing scope for future research.

For further information on these projects, including a summary of the research and expedition reports, please browse the Society's Expeditions Database.


About the Award

The Geographical Fieldwork Grants are generously supported by a number of external donors which include:

Macdonald Award, Gumby Award, Rio Tinto Award, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Educational Trust, David Cross Expedition Award, Penruddocke-Park Lander Fund, Rod Whitney Bequest, Sir Douglas Busk, Ralph Brown Memorial Fund, HR Mill Trust Fund, Marjorie Sweeting Bequest, Violet Cressey-Marcks Fisher Fund, Barling Fisher Bequest, Gough Island Fund, Stephens Bequest and The Jeremy Willson Trust.

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