Frequently asked questions
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 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.
Do I need to be a Fellow or member of the Society to apply for a grant?
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 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 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 the 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 have unlimited use of the Foyle Reading Room and our library of maps, books, and guides, and have unrivalled access to our historic Collections. Fellows and members can also receive expert advice on fieldwork and expeditions.
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.
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 RGS-IBG, can I still apply for funds?
No. We can only offer funding to projects through our existing grant schemes.
I am currently planning an expedition or fieldwork project, how far in advance should I apply for a grant?
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.
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. 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, please contact us.
I am planning an expedition, do you have any resources that will help me?
We have a wealth of information, resources, advice and training available to anyone planning overseas fieldwork. Expedition teams are strongly advised to contact us at an early stage in their planning 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.
In addition, our Collections comprise over two million documents, maps, photographs, paintings, periodicals, artefacts and books, and span 500 years of geography, travel and exploration, making them an invaluable research resource.
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.
Can I apply to more than one Society grant at a time?
Candidates may only have one grant application pending at a time. The exceptions are:
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. All candidates will be informed of the outcome of their application, whether successful or unsuccessful.