The Geographical Fieldwork Grant is the Society's longest running grant scheme. Every year, these grants enable UK based, student-led teams (defined as three or more people) to get into the field. Grants between £500 to £3,500 are awarded.
To qualify for a Geographical Fieldwork Grant, the research must involve fieldwork that aims to make a significant contribution to existing geographical knowledge. Multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects are encouraged.
Team members can be working together on a joint project or each team member can undertake an individual, independent project (for example undergraduate dissertations or Masters theses) if these are linked together under a coherent research theme (this must be clear in the application). Each team member must be involved in the development of the research, and must take equal responsibility for planning, delivery and reporting.
These grants are primarily intended for undergraduate and Masters students. Projects in which the majority of team members are research active academics (including PhD students) will not be supported.
Please see the Geographical Fieldwork Grants application form for more information and further details of eligibility criteria.
The Geographical Fieldwork Grants are generously supported by a number of donors which include:
Alexander Awards, Barling Fisher Bequest, the Frederick Soddy Awards, Gough Island Fund, Gumby Award, HR Mill Trust Fund, Marjorie Sweeting Bequest, the Neil Thomas Proto Award, Penruddocke-Park Lander Fund, Peter Smith Award, Ralph Brown Memorial Fund, Rio Tinto Award, Rod Whitney Bequest, Shara Dillon Award, Stephens Bequest, The Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust and the Violet Cressey-Marcks Fisher Fund.
Deadline: 15 February
All prospective grant applicants should read our Advice and Resources pages, which include more information about referee statements, the grants programme, its conditions, and what is expected if your application is successful.
Two referee statements are required. One must be from a university academic, not a member of the research team, nor directly involved in the planning of the research project and one should be from an appropriate in-country contact.
Your application will be reviewed by a panel of academic experts and teams may be invited to interview on the basis of this review. Interviews will be held at the Society in London in March.
Jessica Chavez, Coral Humbar, Hannah Cioci, Sophie Bruder (Oxford Brookes University): Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity within community-based forests in Bali
There is an urgent need for a global transition to farming systems that provide social and economic equity whilst protecting ecosystem services on which agriculture depends. This project aims to understand which tree/crop composition of non-timber forest products is optimal for providing ecosystem services, biodiversity and yields. Fifty plots in a community-based forest in the West Bali National Park will be selected to investigate: soil quality, pollination services, invertebrate, mammal, and bird assemblages. These variables will be linked to tree/crop composition and yields. The results will be shared with the local forestry department for optimising yields/ecosystem services in local community-based forests.
Oscar Turner, James Chapman and Agnes Liddell (University of Oxford): Project Amu Darya - An Oral History of the Aral Sea Crisis
Project Amu Darya is an official Oxford University Expedition that will travel along the Zeravshan and Amu Darya rivers (Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Along these Aral Sea tributaries, we will collect oral histories of the socioecological breakdown of these waterways. This project will be the first to record and relate the upstream voices of the Aral Sea Crisis. Our recorded interviews will form an educational film, made in collaboration with students from Uzbek universities including Westminster International University in Tashkent. Our research will be shared via film festivals and educational platforms in both Uzbekistan and Britain.
Matthew Nicholson, Laura Brierley, Maisie McCormack, Shaun Farrell, Dominic Rees (Newcastle University): The anthropogenic and climatic impacts in Longyearbyen and Longyearbreen
This research programme aims to assess the impacts of rapid climate change in Longyearbyen. This will be achieved by investigating: ablation rates on Longyearbreen by assessing debris cover, short-term variability of sediment flux and water properties of Longyear River, abundance of heavy metals affecting water quality of Longyear River, temporal evolution of meltwater channels, and changes of vegetation with glacier recession, calculating past ice extent of Longyearbreen.
Raphaela Betz, Patrick Robichaud, Victoria Taylor, William Wallock, Sofi Waterer (University of Oxford): Sustainable Water Management in West Bengal, India
Over two billion people lack adequate access to water. Climate change will only exacerbate this challenge. Communities are adapting by developing novel water management practices. This adaption has been especially pronounced in West Bengal, India. This project plans to travel along the rivers, Dwarakeswar and Teesta, to document evolving water management challenges. The research aims to identify pioneers of adaptation approaches, listen to stories about water, and share them with the world. Strategic partnerships will allow the project access to regional stakeholders and provide a platform to share findings.
Sneha Maria Varghese, Simran Pal Kaur, Hamza Abdullah (LSE): Social Justice is Climate Justice - Theorising from Delhi
This research seeks to develop collectively an intersectional Southern perspective on the question of climate justice. The investigation will be anchored in Delhi, a city facing catastrophic climate-change impacts, and Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-dominated unauthorised 'colony' (neighbourhood or settlement) in the city. The team consists of three Indian students pursuing MSc Urbanisation and Development at LSE. Individual dissertations investigating livelihood, state-citizen relations and housing-tenure security will together interrogate how unequal power-relations shape climate-change vulnerability. The project will use qualitative methods such as interviews and focus-group discussions to collect novel data and disseminate findings through a group publication and blog articles.
Niamh Hope, Lucy Whittles, Kathryn Davies, James Downing, Harley Geraghty, Harris Green (Newcastle University): Gepatschferner Glacier and River Fagge Expedition
This fieldwork expedition aims to investigate and assess the role of debris cover on ablation of the Gepatschferner glacier, the impacts of pollutants on its glacial melt and the spatial variation of factors influencing the glacial melt. Additionally, vegetation succession on moraines in Gepatschferner’s proglacial area will also be assessed. On the other hand, the fieldwork aims to investigate the relationship between soil/vegetation properties and River Fagge, as well as examine the factors controlling sediment transportation within River Fagge.
Jakub Domanski, Ursula Shaw, Robert Kunzmann, Madeleine Ary Hahne (University of Cambridge); Monika Rasz (Jagiellonian University), Mei Wen: Cambridge University Narsarsuaq Glacial Climate Impact Expedition
The aim of this expedition is to conduct robust, interdisciplinary research of climate change impact on glaciers in Southern Greenland. Our objectives are as follows: 1. Photographically recapture glacial scenes that were shot by the Brathay expedition groups (concluding in 1976). 2. Collect glacial water samples to study microplastic pollutants. 3. Measure air pressure and temperatures for the ASIAQ Greenland Survey. 4. Opportunistically sample carbonatitic rock forms for donation to St. Andrews’ University. The expedition seeks to produce articles for both scientific journals and popular publications.
Cassie Dummett, Joe Langley (University College London); Joseph Kanyama Tabu (University of Kisangani): Investigating humans, birds and plants in the Cuvette Centrale peatland forests, DRC
This project will investigate the social, ecological and botanical aspects of the recently discovered central Congo Basin peatlands. In forest near Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, we will use participatory methods to assess how communities use plants in the peatland forest and whether forest resources are managed sustainably. The community composition and diversity of bird species in different peatland habitats will also be investigated to determine whether logging and other anthropogenic activities affect bird species richness. This is the first study of birds in the Cuvette Centrale peatlands. Our findings will be synergised in a report that will be disseminated to the Society, CongoPeat research network and the DRC government Peatlands Management Unit.
Eleanor Leadbeater, Rebecca White, Alex Burton, Sam Eveleigh (Newcastle University): Studying the effects on climate change on the cryosphere in Svalbard
The overall aim of the project is to assess the impact of climate change on Longyearbreen glacier and the surrounding permafrost. Fieldwork methods including GPS mapping, ablation stakes, thermal monitoring and boreholes will be used to ascertain data relating to debris cover, melt rates, and permafrost temperature and thawing. Longyearbyen is the fastest warming town on Earth, so by studying the changes in glaciers and the surrounding permafrost, the impact of climate warming can be understood in this area.
Lucy Friend, Emily Willans, Molly Aspinwall (Newcastle University): Glacier de Miage and Lex Blanche Glacier Expedition
This expedition aims to investigate supraglacial pond pollution and the composition and successional patterns of vegetation at the Glacier de Miage and Lex Blanche Glacier, Italy. To assess pond pollution, we will sample the water, invertebrates, diatoms and sediments, which will then be processed and analysed in Newcastle University’s laboratories. The relationship between vegetation composition and soil conditions will be explored separately at both glaciers through quadrat counts and laboratory analysis of soil samples.
Lucia Hudson, Suzannah Egleston, Aoife Cantwell-Jones (Imperial College London): What’s the buzz about climate change?
Venturing to the Arctic, our project will visit a century-old phenology transect to retrace the steps of past scientists to understand how insect pollinators respond to climate change. We will compare how bumblebee and plant communities have responded to warming to improve our capacity to predict shifting pollination trends under a changing planet and, through studying these ectotherms, provide early indications of climate change (‘canary birds’). The project will produce two masters’ theses, a chapter in a PhD thesis, and deliver academic presentations to environmental and geographical scientists, with manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals.
James English (Newcastle University): Reconstructing past environmental conditions in the Sayan Mountains, Siberia
In collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Geochemistry, Irkutsk, this team of four Physical Geography undergraduate students aims to extract a series of lake sediment cores from four lakes in the Sayan Mountains of southern Siberia. Cores will be processed and preserved invertebrate remains will be analysed to reconstruct palaeotemperatures and past ecosystem structure. Spheroidal carbonaceous particles will be used to assess the extent of anthropogenic pollution in the region. These analyses will form the basis of third year dissertation projects.
Natalie Lewis (University of Exeter): Project Madagascar, Iaroka Forest
Iaroka lies in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor, home to some of the largest areas of remaining rainforest in Madagascar, which, if compromised, could endanger the continuity of vital ecosystems of flora and fauna. This student-led project will carry out biodiversity surveys in a new research area in collaboration with Development and Biodiversity Conservation Action for Madagascar (DBCAM) and local scientists from the University of Antananarivo. The project aims to gain a deeper understanding of the endemic species and the ecosystem services Iaroka provides to the local communities in order to raise awareness of their intrinsic value.
Anya Gleizer (University of Oxford): Wandering in other worlds, talking with the spirits
This expedition to the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia will be a centennial retracing of the famed 1914 expedition route of one of Oxford’s first female anthropologists, Maria Czaplicka. The team will be approaching the project from the viewpoints of their three disciplines: art, anthropology and cognitive science. The result will be an immersive virtual-reality film about contemporary Evenki (Siberian native) lives and landscape, the immense change this region has undergone since Czaplicka travelled there (the rise of the USSR and perestroika), and about changes in the study of anthropology itself. This film will be exhibited in the Ruskin School of Art and the Pitt Rivers Museum.
Arzucan Askin (London School of Economics and Political Science): Mujeres Tarea Vida: gendered experiences of climate change in Cuba
This research project aims to understand why and how women are at the forefront of climate action in Cuba, and examines the socio-political factors that determine Cuban women’s climate change resilience and their contribution to the country’s plan for climate action, known as 'Tarea Vida' (Spanish: 'Life Task'). A mixed-method approach will be taken, consisting of questionnaire surveys, semi-structured interviews, focus groups and analysis of data provided in reports of Cuban climate change groups and government ministries.
Matthew Jones (University of Oxford): Usun Apau Plateau expedition
Usun Apau Retraced is a conservation focused expedition to Sarawak, Malaysia, following in the footsteps of four University of Oxford students back in 1955. The original team made their way up the Plieran river to the remote Usun Apau plateau, where they spent a number of weeks assessing biodiversity. In 2019, a team of three undergraduate students will be journeying to the same region to spend a month studying the flora and fauna of the region. Being 800m above sea level, the area is home to a huge range of endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world. Through collecting baseline ecosystem data the expedition hopes to continue the plateau's conservation.
Aimee Edwards (Newcastle University): Investigation into the key drivers of ablation on Miage Glacier
This research programme involves seven separate investigative projects to further understand the factors driving ablation rates at the Miage Glacier in northwestern Italy. To achieve this aim, two groups will be working simultaneously during June and July 2019, one on the glacier and the other in the pro-glacial area. The pro-glacial team will look at differing aspects of stream characteristics, while the supraglacial team aims to understand the extent and effect of debris coverage, investigating its differing outcomes on different parts of the glacier.
Anna Kalish (Newcastle University): Russell Glacier expedition 2019
This project aims to assess the dynamics of Russell Glacier in west Greenland, in relation to melt, sediment supply and lake properties. Glacier melt will be determined from repeat surveys of an ablation stake interwork, and will be compared to lake and air temperature data. The team will quantify the impact of debris cover, microclimate and surface roughness on melt rates and reconstruct past fluctuations in Russell Glacier from proglacial landforms. Each of these research objectives will inform a dissertation project that will be produced from the results of fieldwork and data analysis.
Jennifer McFarlane (Newcastle University): Investigating the flora and fauna of Manu National Park
This project aims to deepen knowledge of key ecological processes and interactions to aid conservation challenges at Cocha Cashu biological station in southeastern Peru. Its objectives are to gain a better understanding of how birds aid in the dispersal of seeds across habitats; to better understand fig trees as a keystone species looking specifically at the interaction with the local ecosystem; identify jaguar habitat preferences and behaviour; and to investigate the effects of leaf litter on the microflora of bromeliads, a keystone genus of neotropical forests.
Alexander Hyde, Samuel Gillan, Louise Reddy, Calum Sowden and Tom Drysdale (University of Sheffield): Ala Archa 2018
Find out more about the University of Sheffield team's research in the northern Tien Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan, investigating the impact of climate change on glaciers in the region, in this film documenting their fieldwork.