Fieldwork is research which takes place outside the control and infrastructure of the University and similar institutions such as libraries, archives, and laboratories, and necessitates a change in location of study outside of your normal term-time address. It includes activities such as conducting interviews, surveys and periods of immersion and observation. Activities such as reading in libraries, archival searches or conducting scientific work in another laboratory do not count as fieldwork.  

If your project requires a period of fieldwork, you should discuss this with your supervisor as early as possible. The University’s Travel and Fieldwork policy describes the rules and processes for applying for and going on fieldwork. 

The University provides a Fieldwork Fund to help students cover the additional expenses incurred through fieldwork. Students will be provided with a link to apply to the fieldwork bursary within 5 days of having their fieldwork approved.

Supervision continues while you are on fieldwork, and you will be expected to check in with the supervisor ‘regularly (at least once every six weeks or more frequently if required as part of the risk assessment process for your travel)’. This may be a normal supervisory meeting or, if your fieldwork circumstances prevent a full supervisory meeting, should at least allow your supervisor to confirm you are doing ok and your fieldwork is going to plan. This contact can take different forms, including email, videoconferencing, telephone or post.

If for some reason your fieldwork needs to extend beyond one year, additional checks may be required.

Students are reminded that fieldwork can involve activity that requires them to obtain ethical approval and to apply for a change of location of study in accordance with the Location of Study Policy, and that these processes need to be completed in addition to a submission via the travel tool.

The student is responsible for:

Before fieldwork

  • outlining the need for fieldwork in their original proposal, or as soon as it becomes clear that a period of fieldwork will be required.
  • securing fieldwork approval in advance and making the necessary arrangements to secure a suitable placement.
  • completing all Health and Safety and Risk Assessment requirements.
  • ensuring they have valid passports and visas, if required, for their destination and their return to the UK and where necessary checking UKVI compliance.
  • seeking relevant advice from their own GP in relation to immunisations and health issues.

During fieldwork

  • complying with all arrangements agreed and approaching the opportunity in a professional manner which upholds and enhances the University’s reputation.
  • being fully aware of the health and safety aspects of the fieldwork destination and complying with all guidance issues by the School and University.
  • communicating with their supervisor and the University proactively, especially if a problem arises or there are any concerns about the fieldwork arrangements.
  • establishing a successful working pattern which will allow them to collect the relevant data within the allocated time and remain on track to complete their research degree in a timely fashion.
  • complying with any Visa requirements as detailed by the University (or UKVI).
  • complying with all relevant University policies and procedures.

After fieldwork

  • attending a debriefing session with their supervisor to assess the outcomes of the fieldwork trip and amend or revise their completion plan accordingly.
  • proactively work towards integrating back in to their normal learning environment and incorporating the data they collected into their thesis.

The Supervisor is responsible for :

Before fieldwork

  • providing students with clear guidance on the fieldwork requirement or expectation and how this fits into the overall degree programme.
  • helping the student to identify key research and learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, data collection, skills and competencies to be acquired through fieldwork.
  • supporting the student in finding an appropriate fieldwork placement.
  • informing students of the approval process for fieldwork and ensuring that they receive all of the correct approvals.

During fieldwork

  • monitoring the student’s progress and providing ongoing and regular support as agreed in the fieldwork proposal.

 After fieldwork

  • debriefing with the student to evaluate their fieldwork experience and decide on next steps.
  • where appropriate, provide the student with advice and support to ease their transition back to St Andrews.