Overseas Fieldwork Expenses

The WGSSS has limited funds which can contribute to overseas fieldwork expenses. If you are an WGSSS funded student you can apply for funding towards part of your costs. Please submit your application at least three months before you begin your fieldwork.


You are eligible for this allowance if you are a full-time ESRC funded student in the doctoral element of your award. Part-time students are not eligible to claim overseas fieldwork expenses unless the host institution has agreed to a change of status to full-time for a fixed period.

  • You may¬†make only one application for overseas fieldwork expenses in the life of your¬†award. A second application cannot be made.
  • Your application must have support from your school and supervisor.
  • You can only apply for this funding if you are carrying out primary research overseas that is essential to your¬†PhD. Applications will only be considered where your¬†supervisor‚Äôs case for support provides sufficient evidence that the overseas fieldwork is essential to your¬†research.
  • The proposed overseas fieldwork should either have been outlined in your¬†original research application or at the end of the first year of a 1+3 award.
  • If you hold a doctoral studentship attached to your supervisor‚Äôs ESRC research grant any fieldwork will be funded from your supervisor‚Äôs grant, and you will not be eligible for this allowance.
  • Payment of any contribution towards the fieldwork costs will not be authorised if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against visiting the country concerned. All overseas travel must be subject to a formal risk assessment and departmental approval, which may require additional consideration of COVID-19 risk.¬† For guidance and updates on the safety of overseas destinations see Government updates and travel advice.

Retrospective claims for overseas fieldwork expenses will not be considered.

You must comply with your university’s policy on health and safety in fieldwork and undertake appropriate risk assessments, as required, prior to commencing any fieldwork. Please ask your school or graduate office for further information.

What does the allowance cover?

Overseas fieldwork visits will normally last less than 12 months. However, if a strong case for a visit longer than twelve months can be demonstrated, fieldwork of up to a maximum of 18 months may be considered. You will not be able to make retrospective claims for expenses or for extensions to the period of award or thesis submission date if you remain in the field for a period longer than has been formally agreed with your supervisor and University Finance Office.

Overseas fieldwork must be an integral part of your PhD and take place during the life of the award. The purpose of the visit should be to carry out primary research, such as archival research or fieldwork that is essential to the successful completion of your thesis. Studentships will not be extended to reflect periods in the field. Fieldwork should not be undertaken in the last three months of the award.

If approval is given for overseas fieldwork lasting more than nine months, it may be appropriate that either you make one return visit to the UK, or your supervisor makes one visit to you in the field. This visit should occur half way through the period of fieldwork research and must be financed within the allowance given. No further funding will be given. If you return to the UK to consult your supervisor, it is recommended the visit last for a maximum of 10 days. No extension to the fieldwork period can be given to compensate for time spent on a return visit to the UK.

The overseas allowance does not cover the expenses of any family member accompanying you.

The overseas allowance will not be increased to cover extra expenses incurred once you have commenced your fieldwork.

Stipend payments will continue to be paid during your fieldwork and it is expected that they will be used to help meet living costs i.e. subsistence expenses.  The types of eligible overseas fieldwork costs would be flights to and from the fieldwork destination, travel within a country, accommodation and visa costs. The overseas fieldwork allowance may be supplemented by your Research Training Support Grant.

Please note:

  • Should it be necessary to use AirBnB accommodation, you must check host institutional travel guidance beforehand. ¬†Use of AirBnB may only be permissible under strict conditions and in the circumstance where no other alternative options are available. ¬†Pre-approval from a student’s host institution is a requirement for any AirBnB expense claim.
  • You must comply with your school/faculty auditing processes. Receipts must be provided on return from the overseas fieldwork visit. If the costs are more than the WGSSS contribution agreed, any surplus expenditure beyond the sum approved would need to be covered from alternative sources.¬† Approved funds will be transferred by the WGSSS to a student’s host institution on receipt of a breakdown of expenses incurred accompanied by the supporting receipts.

How to apply

As a result of COVID-19, WGSSS institutions have implemented new procedures for overseas travel, fieldwork and data gathering.¬† Students making an application to the WGSSS overseas fieldwork scheme will be asked to confirm their adherence to relevant policies from their home institution. Whilst overseas, students must follow any recommendations arising from their University’s risk assessment and adhere to any policy or guidance issued.¬† Travel should be covered by the travel insurance policy of your host institution and include coverage with respect to COVID-19.¬† Please speak to your respective department/host institution about this process.

The overseas fieldwork application is for a contribution towards the cost of an overseas fieldwork visit. As there are only limited funds available, not all costs will necessarily be met. The actual allocation of funds for fieldwork is at our discretion and the WGSSS Management Group will oversee the process.

You will need to complete the WGSSS Overseas Fieldwork Application Form  and send the completed form via email to enquiries@wgsss.ac.uk.

Please allow at least three months between submitting an application and commencing the overseas fieldwork. We normally expect to communicate funding decisions within two months of application.