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Geographical Club Award

Each year the Geographical Club Award offers two grants of £1,000 to support PhD students undertaking geographical fieldwork or other forms of data collection in the UK or overseas.

About the Award

The Geographical Club is a members dining club which has its origins in the Raleigh Club, a dining club for explorers and travellers established in 1826. At a meeting of that Club in 1830 a new Society, The Geographical Society of London, was formed and this subsequently became the Royal Geographical Society. In 1854 the Raleigh Club was dissolved and the Geographical Club created. The Club has kept close links with RGS-IBG. It has a wide ranging membership of Fellows of RGS-IBG with geographical interests whose backgrounds span academia, exploration, travel, authorship, commerce and the wider world. The Club supports the Society through funding conservation work in the RGS-IBG archives and the Geographical Club Award.

The Geographical Club Award was established in 2009 as an annual award of £1,000. In 2011 the decision was made to award two grants annually; one for a physical geography project and another for a human geography project. Recipients are invited to attend a Geographical Club dinner.

Applicants must be registered at a UK Higher Education Institution. Preference is given to students who do not receive full funding from a research council, university or comparable levels of support from other sources for fieldwork and data collection.

Deadline: 23 November


Apply now

The Geographical Club Award is given through the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Research Awards scheme. All prospective grant applicants are encouraged to read our Advice and Resources pages, which include more information about the grants programme, its conditions, how to apply for a grant and what is expected if your application is successful. Please read this information carefully and send your application, or any enquiries, by email to


Previous recipients

2023: Bruno Friedel (University of Oxford). The relationship between cohousing groups and land in a carbon and resource constrained world

This research will interrogate the experience of different urban cohousing groups in their attempts to access land sites for their project. It does so through case studies from cities in the UK and Australia. The study will investigate how such groups interact with the existing planning and housing system, and what this may suggest about the strengths, weaknesses and tensions inherent to the cohousing model. Finally, the study takes a broader view to interrogate what the case studies may reveal about the potential evolution of discourse and policy around sustainable housing and access to urban land.

2023: Charlotte Curry (University of Sheffield). Investigating the impacts of mining on glacier change in the central Chilean Andes

The impacts of local mining on glacier change are poorly constrained in the central Chilean Andes. Whilst commercial mining offers industry and wealth to Chile, it comes at the cost of damaging local glacial systems which act as vital drought-resistant water resources for large downstream populations such as Santiago. This project will combine evidence of long-term glacier change since the Last Glacial Maximum with more recent remotely sensed and field-based measurements of glacier mass change to understand the consequences of climatic warming and anthropogenic activities, including commercial mining, on Chilean glaciers.

2022: Rosemary Huck (University of Oxford). Quantifying soil crust erodibility in fragile semi-arid dune systems

The protective effect of soil crusts on regulating wind erosion in semi-arid dune environments is poorly understood. Wind erosion models play a fundamental role in predicting sediment transport under environmental stress but lack fine-scale variables such as crust characteristics. This project will use a portable wind tunnel to quantify crust characteristics and wind erosion susceptibility at multiple spatial scales along a precipitation gradient in the Kalahari Desert. Quantification of the impact of soil crusts on wind erosion susceptibility will provide fundamental data for inclusion into a model of landscape response to future changing environmental moisture stress.

2022: Dhaval Joshi (University of Edinburgh). Peeping down, looking forward: exploring the knowledge(s) of groundwater governance in India

Very little is understood about knowledges that shape groundwater governance. This research intends to pursue two questions: ‘how groundwater comes to be known’ and ‘what this knowledge entails for its governance’. Inspired by the critical political ecology work on politics of environmental knowledge and hydrosociality, while also drawing from the recent efforts in Science and Technology Studies on the ontological politics of the subterranean, this project intends to explore the politics and processes of groundwater knowledge production, application and circulation in shaping groundwater governance practices in Maharashtra, India. Using ethnographic methods like participant observation, semi-structured interviews, coupled with discourse analysis, this work will study two state-led groundwater programmes currently being implemented.

2021: William Harcourt (University of St Andrews). 'Measuring and monitoring glacier calving in Svalbard using a multisensor approach'

The process of iceberg calving from tidewater glaciers is poorly understood due to a lack of highresolution observations from glacier calving fronts. To tackle this problem, we will gather sub-daily observations of glacier calving activity in Svalbard using a novel millimetre-wave radar, a Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) and a time-lapse camera. These complementary instruments will map the three-dimensional shape of the glacier calving front from which the glacier calving rate will be quantified. This multi-sensor approach will enable detailed measurements in most weather conditions and will make a vital contribution to understanding the regional mass budget of Svalbard glaciers.

2021: Eilidh Watson (Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University). 'Investigating the energy access impacts, needs and ambitions of women in rural Malawi under three electricity access scenarios' (unable to take up due to restrictions on travel)

In Malawi – one of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts – only 3% of rural areas have access to electricity. With Malawian women normally responsible for securing energy provisions, improving electricity access with renewable energy solutions can help reduce emissions while addressing gender inequality. This co-productive research focuses on energy access impacts, needs and aspirations of women in three local communities using eco-feminist theory, seeking to recognise women’s role as change-makers rather than victims of energy poverty and climate change and creating space to use their knowledge and experience to shape national policy as well as their own futures.

2020: Georgia Hollands (University of Southampton). 'The influence of landscape on bee stressors in Belize'

Tropical forests are under increasing pressure worldwide due to human developments and agricultural expansion, resulting in losses of native vegetation and the isolation of forest patches. Bee species have been negatively impacted by land-use change, through loss of species, increased susceptibility to pathogens, reduced fecundity and reduced foraging efficiency. These impacts are often attributed to multiple stressors including loss of suitable habitat resources, changes in diet and impacts from pollutants such as pesticides and diesel fumes. Whilst the majority of evidence of these impacts come from data from temperate environments, there is still a lack of evidence from tropical regions, where the rate of land use change is highest, and species are exposed to different abiotic and biotic conditions, including initial community compositions, floral resources and an aseasonal climate.

2020: Liam Taylor (University of Leeds). 'Developing a novel open source early warning system for glacial outburst floods'

Climate warming in mountain regions is leading to accelerated glacial melt and the development of proglacial lakes, which create an increasing threat of outburst floods for local communities. Our novel, cheap, and open source system uses an array of Raspberry Pi cameras to quantify realtime 3D changes in a glacier terminus. From this, we can predict iceberg calving before it occurs, and warn downstream communities that a large event may be imminent. This proof-of-concept study can eventually be applied to any mountain glaciers worldwide, where outburst floods are posing an increased hazard to communities

2019: Ben Gowland (University of Glasgow). 'The Spatial Politics of Caribbean Black Power: Praxis, Theory and Transnational Exchange'

This project investigates the diverse and contested relations between Black Power and the post-independence states and societies of the Caribbean with a view to contributing to emergent geographical scholarship on racialized and subaltern politics. Through an engagement with historical Black Power movements in Jamaica and Trinidad the project will draw out the complex spatial articulations of radical Caribbean thought, material-political praxis and transnational connections.

2019: Kwame Awuah (Edge Hill University). 'Spatio-temporal resilience of grazing lawns in African savannahs'

Savannah grazing lawns are a key food resource for large herbivores such as zebra and white rhino and impact herbivore densities, movement and recruitment rates. This project aims to determine the spatial extent and distribution of grazing lawns in Kruger National Park, South Africa, and monitor how they change over time in response to grazing, precipitation and fire regimes. Field surveys will be conducted to measure vegetation properties and animal presence, and grazing lawn dynamics will be compared to environmental drivers such as herbivory, climate and fire to indicate the resilience of grazing lawns to different environmental pressures.

2018: Juliet Sefton (Durham University). ‘Improving mangrove proxies for sea-level reconstruction’.

Studying past sea-level changes is important for many fields of earth system science to understand past ice-volume fluctuations prior to the anthropogenic era, and for providing empirical evidence for sea level and climate models. This project seeks to develop established and new mangrove sea-level proxies through a comprehensive study of modern mangrove sediments from the island of Mahé in the Seychelles.

2018: Jesper Svensson (University of Oxford). ‘Unlocking Pandora’s Box: the Promise, Paradoxes and Practices of Water Markets in China’s Centralized Regime’

In China, a diverse range of water entitlement and trading systems have been established nationally since 2014, but significant knowledge gaps exist in understanding farmers' attitudes to water-use right trading and how trust is maintained within markets. This project aims to advance our knowledge of how water trading systems can help meet social and environmental objectives, by carrying out a qualitative comparative analysis of agricultural water trading in two inland rivers in northwestern China, the Heihe and Shiyang.

2017: Catherine Craven (SOAS). ‘Locating Politics in the Global: A Practice-based Analysis of Global Diaspora Governance’.

The politics of global diaspora governance are becoming increasingly complex. This project examines how the politics of global diaspora governance are always informed by local and global power struggles. Using the Tamil diaspora as an empirical lens, a multi-sited and mixed qualitative methodology is employed to study the practices of diaspora governance in London, Toronto and Geneva.

2017: Marie Arnaud (University of Leeds). ‘Belowground carbon cycling in mangrove forests’.

The study will examine the dynamics of the belowground carbon store in undisturbed and restored mangrove forests in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Sequestration and loss of carbon belowground will be quantified and the environmental controls on these processes assessed.

2016: Ali Monteath (University of Southampton). 'Testing the terrestrial response to thermohaline circulation (THC)-driven Holocene climate events around Atlantic Canada'.

This project will develop and test land-climate-ocean hypotheses using multiproxy palaeoclimate reconstructions, derived from bog and lake sediments and linked using tephrochronology.

2016: Tina Andersson (University of Cambridge). 'Conservation Collaborations in Fiji: the case of marine managed areas'.

This project will use a political ecological approach to examine conservation collaborations in Fiji and how these are articulated, negotiated and executed, and their consequences on different scales of socio-political processes.

2015: Mario Toubes Rodrigo (Manchester Metropolitan University). 'Geomicrobiology of basal ice facies, Svínafellsjökull, Iceland'.

Recently, the subglacial environment has become recognised as an ecosystem in its own right, hosting a variety of microorganisms including aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, archaea and fungi. Microbial activities play a central role in global carbon cycling and greenhouse gas exchange. This study will elucidate the composition and functionality of the subglacial ecosystem at Svínafellsjökull, Iceland, where the geography of basal ice and sediment types is well known, but subglacial geomicrobiology is unknown.

2015: Johanne Bruun (Durham University). 'Techno-politics and the production of territory in post-war Greenland'.

As an exploration into political geography and the relationship between territory, power and knowledge, this projects seeks to engage with three cases from US and Danish scientific exploration of 1950's Greenland. The study aims to yield new insight into the varied bonds between science, legibility and the production of territory. (PhD)

2014: Daniel Beech (Aberystwyth University). 'The networked volcanic hazard: a spatiality of actors, assemblages and information technology'.

Volcanic hazard networks have developed through interrelationships between science, society and technology. This project aims to investigate this disciplinary overlap, formed of inseparable human and nonhuman actors, as a mean of facilitating hazard management and enhancing resilience to volcanic activity. (PhD)

2014: Penny Jones (University of Cambridge). 'Abrupt climate change, water stress and agro-ecological resilience in the greater Indus basin: an isotopic calibration study'.

Through the collection of barley and Indian jujube seeds along a climatic gradient in north-western India, this project will carry out a novel isotopic study of crop water stress in the region before, during and after the Indian Summer Monsoon. (PhD)

2013: Joanne Egan (University of Manchester). 'The impacts of volcanic eruptions: Mt. Mazama and the lakes and bogs of north-west North America'.

Through the investigation of the Plinian eruption of Mt. Mazama approximately 7,700 years before present, this project carried out a multi-proxy assessment of the environmental impacts of this eruption on peatland and lake systems. (PhD)

2013: Gunvor Jónsson (SOAS University of London). 'Women on the move in the Mali/Senegal borderlands'.

The project focused on the migration experiences of Malian women in Senegal. The core objectives were to produce thick descriptions of mobility, translocalism and belonging, while addressing how these processes and experiences are embedded in wider social transformations in the Mali/Senegal borderlands. (PhD)

2012: Ralph Brayne (Exeter University). 'Investigating the interrelationship between boulder beach dynamics and storm events, USA'.

This project aimed to develop a quantitative relationship between the dynamics of cobble/boulder beaches and nearshore wave conditions. The project focused specifically on defining the threshold of entrainment, depth to which clasts are mobilised within the beach matrix, and longshore transport rate. The data will improve conceptual understanding of the dynamics of coarse clastic beaches and inform the development of predictive equations, which are of direct practical use to coastal engineers.(PhD)

2012: Duncan Taylor (Queen's University, Belfast). 'Circulating Tropical Nature: an historical geography of the botanical gardens of Jamaica'.

This project focused on the historical geographies of the botanical gardens of Jamaica between 1774 and 1907. Drawing on insights from science studies this research is anchored around three themes. Together these strands of research will further our understanding of how these botanical spaces translated the tropics to audiences in Britain and beyond. (PhD)

2011: Danielle Gent (Loughborough University). 'Exploring the household adoption of photovoltaic technologies: the case of rural Nicaragua'.

The project explored the notion of household “energy poverty” in rural Nicaragua, and the extent to which photovoltaic technologies are appropriate for achieving the basic needs of energy poor households. (PhD)

2010: Siobhan Whadcoat (Durham University). ‘Understanding large-scale post-earthquake dynamics, Sichuan, China.’

The project followed the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in China, which resulted in loosening of rock and landslides. The research assessed sediment mobilisation in Sichuan, to understand the controls on sediment remobilisation and secondary hazards. (Masters)

2009: Edmund Garrett (Durham University). ‘Reconstruction of Holocene east Asian monsoon intensity using benthic foraminifera and oxygen isotopes for the Pearl River estuary, Southeast China'. (Masters)