Faculty of Arts PhD Fieldwork Grant Scheme

This grant is for fieldwork support to Faculty of Arts Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate researchers, in which the primary data for the PhD thesis can be collected only in a field location (for example, a fundable project may require access to particular communities, physical landscapes, indigenous languages, archaeological sites, or oral histories).

Applications open

1 Jan 2023

Last day for applications

31 Dec 2023
Learn more

Application type

Application required
How to apply

Benefit type

Single payment
Full benefit details

Citizenship requirements

Australian / domestic student
International student

Total value

up to $10,000

Applicable study areas

Historical, philosophical, political and social studies; Language, literature and cultural studies

Number of scholarships awarded

Approximately 20 per year

  • Eligibility & selection criteria


    To be eligible for this scholarship, you must:

    • be a PhD graduate researcher enrolled in the Faculty of Arts or MA graduate researcher who has been given provisional approval to convert to PhD at confirmation,
    • be post-confirmation or within three months of your expected confirmation date (note: funding awarded before confirmation will be provisional upon successful confirmation or for travel to take place after confirmation),
    • be able to demonstrate that the primary data collection for your PhD requires fieldwork methodology. Assessment of applications for fieldwork support will be based not on the discipline, but the methodology involved,
    • be undertaking fieldwork for a single period of three months or more duration, or for several periods that together total three months or more. Each trip must be elements of the same fieldwork plan, essential to the PhD research, and flagged in the original application,
    • submit an initial application to the PhD Fieldwork scheme within two years (equivalent full-time) of commencement – applications for subsequent/follow-up trips can be submitted after this point,
    • be able to present a reasonable and justifiable budget,
    • have school support for 25% of the total budget requested. Your School Funding will be the source of this contribution, and
    • be able to demonstrate that you have met all relevant University policy requirements relating to their fieldwork (such as compliance with the University’s code of conduct for research and student travel policy):

    Selection criteria

    The application must include in the online application form:

    • A description of the thesis project and the fieldwork methodology, demonstrating how it meets the criteria throughout this page,
    • A detailed timetable for fieldwork travel (including timetable of expenditure),
    • A budget:
      • Evidence of sources of quotations budgeted items (ie. airfares and the source of other costs requested, etc.)
      • A detailed case must be made for why accommodation or research assistance costs should be supported
    • A letter from your principal supervisor outlining:
      • How your methodology meets the guidelines above of what constitutes fieldwork,
      • That the proposed fieldwork is essential and integral to the project, and
      • That the fieldwork program was, or will be identified as an integral part of the application for confirmation of PhD candidature, or concurrently with an application for conversion from Master's to confirmed PhD candidature.

    Note: when planning to utilise the PhD Fieldwork Grant, you are also applying for School Funding. You are required to contribute a designated amount of your school funding. For example: If you are apply for a maximum grant of $10,000, 25% of it must be from your School Funding. A separate application for your School Funding contribution is not required.


    • Applications for Fieldwork funding submitted prior to the applicant's PhD confirmation may be approved provisionally, subject to:
      • Formal approval of confirmation (or conversion to confirmed PhD candidature),
      • Submission to the Graduate Research Office of the confirmation document, demonstrating that fieldwork is an essential part of the project, and
      • Funds will not be released until these two conditions have been met.
    • Applications for Fieldwork funding for the purpose of research involving human subjects must demonstrate compliance with the University's code of conduct for research before any data gathering or interpretation can commence under the auspices of the University's PhD Fieldwork funding scheme.
    • Graduate researchers who had outlined the necessity for fieldwork at confirmation can apply to the Fieldwork scheme at any time subsequently, but it is expected that funded fieldwork will be completed by 36 months of candidature. Applicants who apply for funding for fieldwork under this scheme cannot apply for additional funding from the GRATS scheme for the same trip.
    • Graduate researchers may apply for several research trips of fieldwork during their candidature, up to the limit of funding specified above. Each of several trips would normally be expected to be elements of the same fieldwork essential to the PhD research.
    • Graduate researchers awarded a PhD Fieldwork early in their candidature are not precluded from applying later in their candidature for further support for separate research trips to enhance their essential research through the GRATS.
    • The experience of data collection and interpretation is considered an important part of the training of a PhD graduate researcher. The scheme is designed to support this experience. Fieldwork funding awarded under this scheme cannot be used to pay for data analysis or transcription by professional fieldwork companies.
    • Jointly enrolled graduate researchers in another Faculty with co-supervision in Arts may be eligible to receive pro-rata funding, this is proportion to their enrolment component in Arts.
    • Graduate researchers on AusAID scholarships have funding for fieldwork built into their scholarship and are allowed one fieldwork trip (either to their home country or within Australia) funded by AusAID during the course of their scholarship. Visit the Australia's Aid Program web page.


    Budgets are expected to be prudent and economical, and budget items may be funded at lower levels than requested by the awarding Committee. The Committee may choose to award less than the allowable maximum, depending on the quality of the application and available funds.

    • Items usually funded
      • The costs of return (economy) fares to the primary site of field research
      • Domestic travel and transport costs
      • Government Fees & Research Visas
      • Access fees (i.e. costs of community access, gatekeeping, interpreting in the field, etc.)
    • Items not funded
      • Living expenses – these are expected to be covered by either the applicant's scholarship or other sources
      • Electronic equipment, such as computers, recorders or other consumables
      • Language study – candidates are expected to have developed any required language skill prior to travel, travel insurance over and above the University policy
      • Joint PhD graduate researchers visiting partner universities, data gathering or analysis performed by professional fieldwork companies or private individuals on behalf of the applicant
    • Items that may (case-by-case basis) be funded with justifiable evidence
      • Research assistance, if a clear and persuasive case is made that paying for such assistance in situation is essential
      • Payment or gifts for research participants, as is appropriate in the particular local or cultural context
      • Applicants are generally expected to use income normally spent on accommodation to cover the cost of accommodation while on fieldwork. Additional costs of accommodation as a result of the fieldwork may be supported in the following circumstances:
        • The cost of accommodation at the research site(s) is significantly more expensive than usual cost of accommodation in Melbourne;
        • If the applicant must maintain their accommodation in Melbourne (for example because of family or dependents), the budget can include the cost of fieldwork accommodation.
  • Application process

    There are two rounds of applications per year. The 2023 deadlines are:

    • Round 1: 1 March
    • Round 2: 1 September

    Applications will be considered by a Committee made up of representatives of each School with appropriate fieldwork expertise, Chaired by the Associate Dean (Graduate Research) or his or her nominee.

    Out-of-round applications will not be considered, but may be accepted retrospectively and assessed as such during the following round of applications. Retrospective applications must include all supporting documents.

    NOTE: Please send through all supporting documents to arts-gr@unimelb.edu.au. We are currently experiencing a system error with our funding forms, which do not allow applicants to attach documents to their applications.

    To apply for this grant, please submit the form below:

    Submit a scholarship application now

What are the benefits?

The PhD Fieldwork Grant Scheme supports Faculty of Arts graduate researchers to conduct projects in which the primary data for the PhD thesis can be collected only in a field location over an extended period of time (for example, a fundable project may require access to particular communities, social networks, physical landscapes, indigenous languages, or archaeological sites). The time period can be continuous or include several visits.

Graduate researchers will be eligible to receive funding from either the PhD Fieldwork Grant Scheme or the Art Graduate Research International Grant (AGRIG), but not both, during their candidature.

Please read these guidelines carefully before submitting an application. You should also consult the Graduate Research in Arts Travel Scheme (GRATS) and the AGRIG to determine which is the most appropriate scheme for the purpose of your travel.

In determining whether an award will be made and the amount to be awarded, the Committee will consider:

  • The extent to which the planned research meets the definition of fieldwork (see below),
  • Whether the research is essential to the successful completion of the PhD (requires supervisors support and must be included in confirmation report), and
  • Whether the budget is reasonable and appropriate.

What is fieldwork?

Methodological approaches relevant to this scheme include ethnographic and linguistic research techniques and studies requiring immersion or other site-intensive work. These may include participant observation or interview-based strategies that must occur over a sustained period of time, or other types of field-based research projects that depend on the researcher’s embedding within a particular field location or locations. Fieldwork funding may also be appropriate for research projects requiring long-term strategies of building trust to gain access to the object of research.

Fieldwork may consist of deep immersion in one place, or research in a number of sites – in either case the onus is on the applicant to make the case as to how the proposed research meets the other criteria for fieldwork funding.

What is not fieldwork?

Visits to libraries, museums, archives, and other forms of data collection or research that do not require the researcher to be embedded at the location, visits to other universities, to attend courses, to consult with academics or to attend conferences, data gathering or analysis performed by professional companies or private individuals on behalf of the applicant


A maximum of $10,000 over the duration of the PhD candidature (whether in one long trip, or several repeat trips) will be awarded where eligible. Schools are required to contribute a minimum of 25% of the total budget. Your School Funding will be the source of this contribution. A separate application for your School Funding contribution is not required.

The Committee may choose to award less than the allowable maximum or requested amount, based on the quality of the application relative to the pool of applications and available funds.

The information listed here is subject to change without notice. Where we have listed information about jointly run scholarships programs, please also see our partners' websites. Information describing the number and value of scholarships awarded is indicative.