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Frequently asked questions

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

Do I have to be a geographer to apply for a Society 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.


What counts as 'geographical'?

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 interact and are continually shaped and changed. It is of relevance to us all, not only as we carry out our lives in ‘places’, but through our actions as we increasingly change our environments – both built and natural.

To obtain support from the Society, the proposed research must contain a substantial geographical component. Non-geographical mapping projects (e.g. simply mapping the distribution of species X) do not meet the requirement to make a contribution to new geographical knowledge. Such projects will not be eligible for funding.


What types of grants does the Society offer and where can I find out more?

Specific information about the grants the Society offers can be found on the individual webpage of each grant. All these pages can be accessed from here.

Most of the Society’s grants support research and fieldwork and scientific expeditions. There are specific grants to support conference attendance, the development of teaching resources, and to support school field trips. Each grant has a different focus, which may be related to subject area or career stage. We encourage you to explore the opportunities starting from the grants overview page and then to read the individual grant pages, and linked documents, carefully to find which grant is most appropriate for you to apply for.


Is there an application form?

Yes. For most of the grants, the application form can be found here.

However, the following grants have more specific forms linked from the individual grant page: 

The Society’s grant pages are updated regularly with the most recent information.


How long is the application process?

Up to four months. The application process for each grant is different, and may involve submission of a second application and interviews, as well as training days. Full details can be found in the guidelines for each award. Applications for all grants will be acknowledged and all candidates will be informed of the outcome of their application, whether successful or unsuccessful.


Do I need to be a Fellow or Member of the Society to apply for a grant?

It depends on the grant you are applying for. A number of our grants specify that you must be a Fellow or Member to apply. If that is the case, this requirement is clearly stated on the grant guidelines on the individual webpage for the grant, along with any other eligibility criteria.

There are a range of benefits associated with becoming a Fellow or Member 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 various regions of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It also enables you to network with others in your profession, apply for professional status as a Chartered Geographer, participate in any of our 31 active research groups and access the Society’s academic journals. Fellows and Members can also receive expert advice on fieldwork and expeditions.


Can I apply to more than one Society grant at a time?

Candidates may only apply for one grant within an annual cycle (deadlines October to April). The exceptions are:


Can I apply for funding for a university departmental field trip?

No. While the Society encourages the highest quality research and fieldwork practice and university-led projects, in which students gain fieldwork experience, department led field trips will not be supported through this grant scheme.


Can I apply for funding to participate in a volunteering project?

No. We do not offer grants to participate in voluntary work overseas.


Can I apply for funding to participate in charity fundraising?

No. We only support independently organised research projects and do not offer funding to participate in charity fundraising activities.


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

No. The Society does not consider applications for projects that have already taken place.


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 I can apply for?

No. The Society’s grants programme provides funding for geographical research and fieldwork. Unfortunately, we do not offer grants or scholarships to assist with tuition fees or living costs while studying.


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

No. Unfortunately, the Society does not have grants to assist with the costs of pre-organised gap years.


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?

Unfortunately, we do not offer grants to students at school.

However, we do have a programme that 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 A Levels/Highers (or equivalent) who would not normally have such opportunities.


I have a project that does not fit into any of the grants offered by the Society, can I still apply for funds?

No. We can only offer funding to projects through our existing grant schemes.

We have compiled a filterable list of other funding organisations on our website which you may find useful when searching for funding for your project. 


I am currently planning an expedition or fieldwork project, how far in advance should I apply for a grant?

Most of our grants only have one deadline a year. In general, the application process lasts 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.

If in doubt, please contact us.


I am planning an expedition, do you have any resources that will help me?

Yes. We have a wealth of information, resources, advice and training available to anyone planning overseas fieldwork. We strongly advise you to contact us at an early stage to benefit from the expert knowledge available throughout the planning process. We maintain 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. We also organise a series of seminars, workshops and training days, including Explore, the annual expedition and fieldwork planning weekend.


What happens if my plans change?

You must inform the Society immediately of any changes to the project, including changes to the budget, participants and to the programme of travel and fieldwork. We recognise this happens sometimes and for factors well beyond your control. If decisions have not yet been made, we will update the reviewers with this information.

If your project has been selected for funding, we will review any changes to the project and may request more information before deciding if support will be continued. Minor alterations to projects are unlikely to result in the withdrawal of funding.

If a project is abandoned or postponed the Society should be informed. Any unspent funds received from the Society must be returned.


Is there a time period in which I need to spend the grant or complete the project?

Normally, you will be expected to begin the fieldwork/data collection funded by the grant within 12 months of the grant being awarded. Once it begins, your fieldwork/data collection and associated spending of the grant will then be expected to be completed within a 12-month period. If you are planning a project where you expect grant-funded data collection and spending to occur over a period longer than 12 months, please contact the Grants Manager in advance of submitting your application to discuss this. 


My research has been interrupted by maternity/paternity/other types of leave. Can the grant be extended?

Yes, but you must contact us. A formal extension can be given for time away from the research environment (e.g. for personal reasons such as maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoptive leave or other caring responsibilities, ill-health or bereavement). Each case will be considered individually. Please contact the Grants Manager to submit or discuss a request for an extension.


How does the grants programme define an ‘Early Career Researcher’ (ECR)?

An ECR is defined as an individual who is within 10 years of completing their PhD, taking into account any period of career breaks (e.g. for family care or health reasons).


I have had a career break/time away from research since my PhD. Can I still apply for an ECR-focused grant?

Yes, time away from the research environment may be deducted from the total time that you are post-PhD. This must be described clearly in the application.