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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.


31 January (each year)


 Geographical Fieldwork Grant guidelines (PDF)
 Geographical Fieldwork Grant application form (MSWORD)
 Geographical Fieldwork Grant guide to referees (PDF)               
 Geographical Fieldwork Grant team members 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.


2016 Geographical Fieldwork Grant recipients

 'University of Glasgow Iceland Expedition' Martha Thomson (University of Glasgow)

The purpose of this expedition is to continue with the support provided by University of Glasgow for the development of a Nature and Heritage Centre at Skálanes, Iceland. Ten projects will be developed and delivered by a team of six undergraduates. These range from questionnaires on motivations to take part in ecotourism, to soil sampling to determine the benefits of afforestation as a CO2 sink.

 'Evaluating the effects of climate change on Svalbard glaciers' James Linighan (Newcastle University)

The response of four glaciers in Svalbard to climate change will be examined in detail in this project. Data will be collected on the land-terminating glaciers Longyearbreen, Platabreen and Larsbreen, in order to observe the response of melt rates to air temperature, surface debris cover and wind. The calving front of the marine-terminating glacier Tunabreen will be observed over a one month period using time-lapse photography, in order to collect data on iceberg calving. Air and ocean temperatures will be measured to determine their relationship to calving events.

 'Camera trap survey of Semenawi Bahri protected area, Eritrea' Essayas Abraha (Forestry and Wildlife Authority, Ministry of Agriculture, Eritrea)

Semenawi-Debubawi Bahri tropical woodland is one of the most biodiverse areas in Eritrea, however very little is known about the mammals found in the region. This project aims to study the composition and distribution of the mammalian species by conducting the first camera trap survey of the area, and build local capacity for conservation by training local rangers in camera trap usage and mammal identification. Publication of the results in international scientific journals and relevant national institutions will help raise awareness about Eritrea’s biodiversity.

 'Bison Investigation in the Boreal Cordillera' Fingal Loh (University of Cambridge)

In 1986, 34 wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) were re-introduced to Lake Aishihik in the southwest Yukon, Canada. The herd has now grown to about 1,200 (2014 estimate). To examine the impact of bison on successional pathways, this project will assess changes to vegetation in the surrounding region, based upon archived satellite and aerial imagery, and vegetation and scat surveys.

 'A Microbial Safari: Quantifying Bacteriophage Diversity in Tanzania' Isabel Frost (University of Oxford)

Phages are the viruses specific to bacteria. Though much is known about the diversity of the macro-organisms with which we co-inhabit this planet, as yet, much of the microscopic world remains a mystery. With the exception of Europe and North America, bacteria, and the viruses that prey on them, have not been widely sampled. We wish to obtain such samples from Tanzania, to investigate their potential for fighting bacterial infections. These will be made available to other scientists doing similar research, thus broadening our knowledge of tropical phages.

 'Madagascar Medical Expedition 2016' Stephen Spencer (East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust)

This expedition will determine the burden of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis in Madagascar. In 2015, a 94% prevalence of Schistosomiasis was found in six schools in the Marolambo district of Madagascar. This expedition will return to the area to investigate the morbidity of Schistosomiasis in in school-aged children, using questionnaires, bedside tests and child development assessments.

 'Emerging Geographies of Everyday Life in a Changing Urban Context' Daniela Schofield (London School of Economics and Political Science)

This project seeks to produce an understanding of daily human interactions in a rapidly changing urban space. The team comprises of four students on the MSc Urbanisation and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Department of Geography and Environment. Whilst each member’s focus differs, together they shed light on human geographical realities of everyday life in an understudied, yet increasingly influential, city of the Global South: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This study will use mixed qualitative methods ranging from interviews to focus groups. Findings will be disseminated through individual MSc dissertations and a group report.

 'Mixed-methods evaluation of the ‘Socio Bosque’ scheme in Ecuador' Harriet Wilson (King’s College London)

This study will analyse the extent to which social and environmental improvements have been made by the Socio Bosque programme within Napo province, Ecuador. The use of a mixed-methods approach, employing contemporary remote sensing and python technology, ecological measurements, and interview techniques will address the three main research objectives: examining the impacts of the Socio Bosque programme on poverty alleviation in the Napo region, the maintenance of carbon sequestration, and catchment water quality within and outside Socio Bosque lands.

 'The impacts of Fair Trade Town status on craft workers in Bolgatanga, Ghana' Jake Stenson (University College London)

This project aims to examine how gaining Fair Trade Town status has impacted the livelihoods of craft workers in Bolgatanga and their experiences and opinions of the Fair Trade Towns movement. This will be done by semi-structured interviews and focus groups with local craft workers. Furthermore, semi-structured interviews will be undertaken with other local actors in the Fair Trade Town movement such as workers at NGO TradeAID and local business ministers. Quantitative analysis will also be used to gauge whether Fair Trade Town status has improved incomes or export levels.

 'Incognita Patagonia: Exploring the Last Patagonian Icefield' Evan Miles (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Incognita Patagonia is a project that combines exploration, scientific research, mapping and climbing. It aims to explore the area of the Cloue Icefield on Hoste Island at the tip of South America, and to traverse the icefield, documenting the peninsula’s glaciers and geomorphology. The project will develop a freely available high-quality map of the zone based on satellite imagery and field surveys. Finally, the team will take advantage of the journey to the remote Cloue peninsula to check and maintain the meteorological network established by the late Charlie Porter.

 'Russell Glacier: the influence of supraglacial conditions on ablation rates' Charlotte Bryan (Newcastle University)

Supraglacial hydrology is a key component in the glacial system and can affect melt rates and create a more efficient glacier. The aim of this project is to identify the major factors that are affecting ablation rates on the Russell glacier in Greenland. Ablation stakes will be used to measure ablation rates and the velocity of the glacier. The calving front of the glacier will also be measured and its relationship to both the level and temperature of the lake will be quantified.

 'Study of fluvial and environmental processes affected by Calbuco eruption' Alexandra McKee (Newcastle University)

This project will study the active Calbuco volcano in Chile which erupted in April 2015 after 44 years of silence. The team has exclusive access to aerial photography taken before and after the eruption and will study how contemporary processes have been challenged by the presence of lahars and pyroclastic flow by measuring the physical properties of the study area and comparing these to previous records, some of which will be provided by the Chilean Geology Department.

 'Expedition Cloudbridge' Louise Beinfait (University of Exeter)

The objective of this expedition is to survey the biodiversity (with a focus on herpetology) of the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, Costa Rica. The value of this reserve is still largely unknown, however it acts as a buffer zone to the adjacent Chirropó National Park. This park is important for conservation as it consists of five different ecosystems, resulting in great biodiversity. Results will be shared with the reserve, locals and funders and by publishing our findings, with the aim of preserving this species-rich cloud forest.

 'FXpedition Sri Lanka' Ben Toulsen (University of Exeter)

This is a multidisciplinary project taking place in the Popham Arboretum just outside Dambulla in Sri Lanka. The aim of the project is to help the arboretum with its conservation efforts and to improve its financial stability. The team will be working with a local institution and arboretum staff to conduct research on the arboretum's decreasing slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) population, a key draw for tourists. The team hope to identify what is causing this population decrease through point counts, thermal imaging and habitat surveys, helping devise strategies to combat this.

 'FXCambodia 2016' Henry Wingfield (University of Exeter)

FXCambodia 2016 seeks to research the impacts of illegal trawling on seagrass habitats. This habitat supports populations of Blue Swimmer Crabs which have significant economic value to local fishing communities. This income is under threat as the crab’s habitat, seagrass, is damaged by trawling. FXCambodia 2016 entails the collaboration of UK students with students at the Royal University of Agriculture, Cambodia. The team will perform habitat surveys comparing areas regularly trawled and areas trawled less frequently.

 Marine turtle conservation at Akrotiri, Cyprus' Rosemary McLaren (University of Glasgow)

The main objective of this project is locating and monitoring turtle nesting sites on the beaches of the Akrotiri peninsula. This is followed by an estimation of the hatching dates of the nests, protection through placement of cages and assessment of the environmental and anthropogenic impacts on the hatchlings. The team will be patrolling the beaches, protecting the nests, examining the behaviour of the mothers and the newly-hatched turtles, and undertaking conversations with local residents and visitors about their conservation attitudes towards marine turtles.

 'University of Glasgow Egypt Marine Expedition' Cassandra Zinkievich (University of Glasgow)

This six week expedition to the Wada El Gamal marine protected area will encompass four research projects which will answer key ecological questions about coral reefs within the Red Sea. In particular, the team will investigate the success of a no take zone, boldness in hawkfish, fish community composition in mesophotic coral ecosystems, and the effects of wave exposure on coral.

 'FxPerhentians' William Burton (University of Exeter)

FxPerhentians is an ecological expedition aimed at assessing the impacts of extensive tourist development on different herpetofauna populations on the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. The team will also be testing innovative Colugo survey methods to improve the ease with which these notoriously elusive mammals can be studied. Research will be carried out with day and night visual encounter transects, pitfall trapping, remote sensing and intensive zonal surveys.

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, 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, The Jeremy Willson Trust, the Alexander Awards and the Neil Thomas Proto Award.

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