Your guide to safe fieldwork

Fieldwork is any practical work carried out away from University premises by University staff or students for the purpose of teaching and/or research. It includes interviewing, social surveys, participant observation, archaelogical research, and environmental surveys and data collection.

Extensive fieldwork is undertaken across the Social Sciences Division by staff and students covering a wide range of topics and activities and in a multitude of countries.

There are a number of procedures that must be followed and a variety of resources and training courses available to help staff and students execute safe, effective and successful fieldwork.

Training for fieldworkers

The Social Sciences Division Researcher Development team offers a wide range of training opportunities for DPhil students and early career researchers. There are a number of Fieldwork and Research training courses.

A number of Safety Office training courses are provided for fieldworkers and those that supervise fieldworkers.

Departmental research methods courses. Departments have their own research methods courses which cover research design and methodologies. Contact your Graduate Administrator for timetables.

Approval Procedures

All fieldwork must be approved by your department: the following approvals need to be obtained where applicable:


For students, the research rationale and methodology needs to be approved by your supervisor.


All research involving human participants should be subject to ethical review. Some departments have their own departmental Ethics Committees, others use the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Research Ethics Committee (IDREC). The Ethics forms and approval process are the same in both cases.

Travel risk assessment

Every department has its own risk assessement form and approval procedure. These forms require the researcher to outline what the fieldwork involved, identify the significant safety risks to the researcher associated with the fieldwork and detail the measures in place to mitigate those risks. The level of detail in risk assessment form should be commensurate with the risks involved. Any travel to a country or region to which the UK Government Foreign and Commenwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel has to approved by the Head of Department and reviewed by the Safety Office.

University policies must be followed on Safety in fieldwork and Overseas travel.

Travel insurance

University staff and students are eligible for University travel insurance when they travel on University business. Insurance is contingent on having an approved travel risk assessment and compliance with the University policies on Safety in Fieldwork and Overseas travel.