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Plan an expedition

Advice and resources to help university students, teachers, researchers and others wanting to plan their own overseas fieldwork project.

Our top tips for a successful expedition


1. Choose a project that really inspires you

Anyone can plan an expedition - the challenge is to do one that really makes a difference either to you or to a wider community. You can find inspiration in the project summaries in our Expeditions Database.

Search Expeditions Database


2. Read the advice in our resources for expeditions

With contributions from over 50 field researchers and expedition leaders, our resources take you through all you need to know to plan a whole range of scientific and adventurous projects, in a wide range of environments.

Read our resources

Listen to our expedition planning podcast


3. Get to know the experts – research your chosen topic

Whatever your chosen project, there are bound to be people out there who have done something similar. Search online to find organisations and individuals who are relevant to your project. Build up an address book not only of who might be able to help you but also how. Read their publications and go to their talks – introduce yourself. Ask them about the feasibility of your plan.


4. Contact us

Email and share your plans with us. You are also welcome to visit the Society to discuss your work. The Foyle Reading Room holds past expedition reports, guidebooks and maps of your area.


5. Draw up an action plan and budget

Once you have decided what it is you want to do, time will disappear quickly, so draw up a plan of what you need to do by when. Finance is likely to be one of the major constraints.

Your budget is the financial representation of your plan and will encourage you to look at the detailed costs of the travel, accommodation, food and equipment. Identify and apply for grants and possible gifts in kind that will help reduce your costs. Amend the budget as your plans develop.

See what grants we have available

See our list of other grant-giving organisations


6. Make links in-country

It is the people in-country who are most likely to ensure the success of your project. Try to do a planning visit so you can meet the people you will be working with face to face. The investment of a cheap flight and short visit may pay for itself many times over.

Permissions are often dependent on in-country collaboration. If you are doing fieldwork for the first time, you may want to base yourself at a research centre.

Search our World Register of Field Centres to find a location for your project


7. Keep safe

Risk assessment is not simply a bureaucratic necessity. Instead look at this as your safety management plan. Use your risk assessment process to think carefully about how you will avoid the dangers and how you will deal with a crisis – rehearse the ‘what if scenarios’, make sure you have adequate insurance in place, and who and how you can ask for help if you need it.


8. Training

If you don’t think you have the necessary skills for your planned project take time to learn them. Everyone on your team should have basic first aid skills. If you are working in remote or difficult terrain, you may want to improve on your navigation and map reading. If you are using new research techniques or unfamiliar equipment take time to practice first.


9. In the field

Remember you may be a guest in someone else’s community or country. Behave accordingly. Show respect for all those you meet, and take the trouble to explain what you are doing and why. Learn from the people you meet. Knowing even a little of the local language goes a very long way to breaking down cultural barriers.


10. When you get back

Thank all those who have helped you on your way. Tell them what you have achieved and write it up in the form of an expedition report so that others can benefit from your experience.

Make sure you submit a copy to us. After all, you never know you might want to plan another expedition or fieldwork before long.

Create a submission for the Expeditions Database


Good luck!