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Car parked at the top  of a winding road, with herds of cows are walking beside the road. There is a large expanse of open land in the distance, with fields and trees surrounded by mountains.

Land Rover Bursary

The Land Rover Bursary supported challenging journeys promoting a wider understanding and enjoyment of geography between 2008 and 2020.

About the Award

Running from 2008 to 2020, the Land Rover Bursary, supported by RGS-IBG Corporate Benefactor Jaguar Land Rover, has enabled 11 challenging journeys across the world.

From the first project, a journey along the line of 50° north, to the most recent, the Mobile Malaria Project, the Bursary has taken teams above and beyond their limits and boundaries by harnessing the full vehicle capabilities of both Discovery and Defender. Read more about past projects supported by the Bursary below. 


Previous recipients

2019: Pest Free Farming (Claire Bénard, Cyrila Anton, Njoki Thuo, Florie-Anne Wiel, Purity Chomba, Miriam Kimani, Zani Mathoo, Eleanor Mann)

The Pest Free Farming project was selected for the 2019 Land Rover Bursary, with the aim to gather evidence on the factors influencing farmers’ adoption of pest management technologies in rural East Africa. The project was unfortunately unable to go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


2018: Mobile Malaria Project (Dr George Busby, Jason Hendry and Dr Isaac Ghinai)

As winners of the 2018 Land Rover Bursary, Dr George Busby from the University of Oxford's Big Data Institute, Jason Hendry and Dr Isaac Ghinai drove 7,350km across Africa from March to May 2019 to document current innovations and challenges in eliminating malaria – a parasitic infectious disease transmitted between humans by mosquitoes.

Using a specially modified Land Rover Discovery, and working with local scientists in Namibia, Zambia, and Kenya, the team aimed to learn about the current status of malaria in three countries and to work collaboratively to test the feasibility of mobile genetic sequencing technology. The work performed by the Mobile Malaria Project has laid the foundations for their African-based colleagues to use portable genetic sequencing machines in their research on both parasite and mosquito populations. In the future, genetic data generated on a number of different platforms, including the portable genetic sequencing devices used by the Mobile Malaria Project, has the potential to be used to monitor and map resistance to insecticides and antimalarial drugs – two of the greatest threats to controlling the disease.

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2017: The Water Diaries (Fearghal O’Nuallain)

During November 2017, geography teacher Fearghal O’Nuallain, field scientist Dr Shane McGuinness and documentary film-maker Temujin Doran drove a Land Rover Discovery SUV across Jordan to investigate how the country’s population manages one of its most precious natural resources: water. The team made regular broadcasts during their journey for school pupils to support their geography studies.

On their journey across Jordan, the team studied how Bedouin tribes locate and transport water in the Wadi Rum region, and stopped at a farm that uses ancient and modern techniques to provide the food consumed in one of the driest places on earth. They also met experts working to save the Arabian oryx from extinction and visited the city of Petra, where they met archaeologists working at the World Heritage Site. From here, the Discovery took the team to investigate an advanced infrastructure project that could bring water security to the entire region – a desalination plant in the Gulf of Aqaba and a pipeline linking the Red Sea with the Dead Sea.


2016: The Transcaucasian Expedition (Tom Allen)

The ‘Transcaucasian Expedition’ spent six months helping to explore and map the first long-distance hiking trail across the Lesser Caucasus mountain range of Georgia and Armenia. Supported by the 2016 RGS-IBG Land Rover Bursary and working with a range of partners, the team used GIS technology to survey off-road routes and develop in real-time the resources to hike a 1,000km backcountry trail across the region.

Access to the Caucasus region’s dramatic natural landscapes remains difficult due to a lack of formal trails and recent, reliable mapping. This little-visited region is dominated by some of the most impenetrable mountains in the world, and is also known by conservationists, biologists and botanists for its rich biodiversity. The expedition will support a broader movement in the Caucasus region for improved access to the outdoors – both for local hikers and outdoor professionals and the international community of travellers, hikers and geographers.

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2015: Trail by Fire (Dr Yves Moussallam, Dr Nial Peters, Aaron Curtis, Dr Talfan Barnie, Dr Ian Schipper and Dr Philipson Bani)

Between November 2015 and February 2016 an international team of volcanologists travelled 4,000km through the South American Andes to study more than 15 active volcanoes. Driving from Peru to the southern tip of Chile, the team endured a range of climates, altitudes and terrain to complete the first accurate estimate of volcanic gas emissions along the entire length of the Nazca plate subduction zone.

The Land Rover Defender became a mobile observatory, allowing the team to access and undertake measurements at volcanoes never before studied. Using state-of-the-art equipment the team measured emissions both in situ and remotely, using an array of spectroscopic techniques and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The data collected by the Trail by Fire expedition will improve our understanding of the volatile gases released by volcanoes; one of the least well constrained parameters in current climate models.

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2014: The Grand Alpine Tour (Mark Allan, Dr Mike Lim and Thomas Shaw)

During the summer of 2014 a team of three geographers travelled along the length of the Alps, from the UK to Italy, through France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia, to carry out research on the magnitude and frequency of landslides at high altitudes. Using a combination of traditional techniques and state of the art technology, including an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for 3D mapping, the team worked to interpret and better understand the current state of the European Alps by providing new insight into small and frequent landslides. Involving collaboration with an artist joining them on the journey, this project followed in the footsteps of the earliest explorers of the Grand Tour, furthering understanding of alpine landscapes and how they are portrayed.


2013: The Pole of Cold (Felicity Aston, Gisli Jonsson and Manu Palomeque)

The 'Pole of Cold' expedition aimed to chase the onset of winter across Europe and Siberia as far as the Pole of Cold, the coldest place in the northern hemisphere. The expedition focused on winter as a geographical concept by exploring the social, cultural and physical implications of the season on the communities the team met along the way. While enduring testing cold-weather conditions with temperatures regularly below -40°C, the team combined adventure, geography and art to share stories of day-to-day life in extreme climates in order that others might draw inspiration from them to look again at winter and their own lifestyles during the coldest months.

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2012: Pushing the Limits (Andy Campbell, Michael Dobson and Steve Locke)

Led by disabled adventurer Andy, Pushing the Limits travelled from the UK to The Black Sea in an expedition which aimed to widen our understanding and enjoyment of the geography on our doorstep. The team sought to demonstrate that the exploration of a diversity of landscapes is within everyone’s reach, whatever their ability.

Beginning their journey in June 2012, Pushing the Limits travelled through Europe following the route of the River Danube. Using a wide range of equipment – including off-road wheelchair, handcycle, kayak and paraglider - and accessing remote off-road areas with the Land Rover Defender 110, Pushing the Limits explored their surroundings by water, land and air.


2011: Glacier in a Greenhouse

A team of Durham University students with a keen interest in glaciology undertook research on the North East outlet lobe of the plateau icefield of Þorisjökull; looking specifically at the subglacial drainage system of the glacier, glacial sedimentary deposits, debris transport within the ice, landsystems mapping and reconstructing glacier growth and decay. These elements of research gave a wider understanding of how the glacial system operates as a whole.

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2010: Fault Line Living (Serena Davies, Tamsin Davies and Adam Whitaker)

An arduous 12-week, 15,000 mile journey exploring the realities of life for people living along fault lines. From Iceland to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Iran. The team worked with school students, seismologists and talked to the local people of each country to uncover how different communities adapt to the challenges of fault line living.


2009: Atlantic Rising (William Lorimer, Tim Bromfield and Lynn Morris)

Atlantic Rising’s journey traced what could be the new coastline of the ocean with projected sea level rise in the next century; they explored the places, people and histories that would be lost to the rising tide if climate change continues. The team have developed a programme of talks to both adults and school students. For more information contact

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2008: Latitude (Peter Lovell, Spike Reid and David Smith)

Latitude travelled in a Land Rover Defender along the line of 50° North across Europe through Asia and Canada collecting stories of people's adaptations to their environments.

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Other projects supported by Land Rover

In 2015 Land Rover generously supported the 'Into No Man's Land' expedition with the loan of a Land Rover Discovery Sport vehicle. For details of the project please visit the Thesiger-Oman Fellowship page.