Fieldwork is considered as any research activity contributing to your academic studies, and approved by the Faculty, which is carried out away from University premises. This can be overseas or within the UK.  The safety and welfare of its students is paramount to the University.

Preparation

Safe fieldwork is successful fieldwork. Thorough preparation can pre-empt many potential problems. When discussing your research with your supervisor please think about the safety implications of where you are going and what you are doing. Following this discussion and before your travel will be approved, you will be required to complete a travel risk assessment form, which can be obtained from the Centre Administrator (admin@csls.ox.ac.uk).

This requires you to set out the significant safety risks associated with your research, the arrangements in place to mitigate those risks and the contingency plans for if something goes wrong. There is an expectation that you will take out University travel insurance. The Faculty also needs accurate information on where you are, and when and how to contact you while you are away. The travel assessment process should help to plan your fieldwork by thinking through arrangements and practicalities. Read some fieldwork experiences (Social Sciences Division site).

Training

Training is highly recommended as part of your preparation. Even if you are familiar with where you are going there may be risks associated with what you are doing.

Faculty/Centre course (run annually):

A short basic fieldwork safety awareness session covering personal safety and planning tips is incorporated into the 'Experiences of Fieldwork' session (normally held in Hilary Term). Post fieldwork students will also be able to share their experiences. All students carrying out fieldwork are expected to attend this session.

Doctoral Training Centre courses (run termly):

Preparation for safe and effective fieldwork in the Social Sciences. A half day course, for those carrying out medium to high risk research in rural and urban contexts.

Fieldwork: secondary trauma sessions. For research in traumatic or distressing areas.

Facing the personal challenges of fieldwork: reflective researcher discussion group. A facilitated peer support group to help students deal with culture shock and other transitional issues.