Faculty of Arts PhD Fieldwork Grant Scheme

This grant is for fieldwork support is for projects 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 2019

Last day for applications learn more

31 Dec 2019

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

All study areas

Number of scholarships awarded

Approximately 1

  • Eligibility & selection criteria


    To be eligible for this scholarship, you need to:

    • be PhD candidates enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, who are either confirmed or within 3 months of their expected Confirmation date (or MA students who have been given provisional approval to upgrade to PhD at Confirmation)*
    • demonstrate that the primary data collection for their PhD requires fieldwork for a minimum of three months duration during the period of candidature
    • submit, or have already submitted, a detailed fieldwork program to their school as an integral part of their application for Confirmation of PhD Candidature, or concurrently with an application for conversion from Masters to confirmed PhD candidature

    *Applications for fieldwork funding submitted prior to the student's Confirmation (or conversion) may be approved provisionally, subject to:

    • Formal approval of Confirmation (or conversion to confirmed PhD candidature) and
    • Submission to the Faculty Research Office of the Confirmation document, demonstrating that fieldwork is an essential part of the project
    • 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.

    Students whose PhD candidature has been confirmed without explicit reference to an extensive fieldwork program as above are not eligible for support under this scheme. Students 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. Candidates who apply for funding for fieldwork under this scheme cannot apply for additional funding from the GRATS scheme for the same trip.

    Candidates who apply for funding for fieldwork under this scheme cannot apply for additional funding from the GRATS scheme for the same trip.

    Students may apply for several research trips of fieldwork during their candidature, up to the limit of funding specified below. Each of several trips would normally be expected to be elements of the same fieldwork essential to the PhD research.

    Candidates awarded a PhD Fieldwork Grant 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 Faculty's Graduate Research in Arts Scheme (GRATS).

    The experience of data collection and interpretation is considered an important part of the training of a PhD student. 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.

    Candidates jointly enrolled in another Faculty may be eligible for pro-rata funding.

    • AUSAID students are allowed one fieldwork trip (either to their home country or within Australia) funded by AusAID during the course of their scholarship. The maximum period approved for fieldwork is 12 months. Visit the Australia's Aid Program web page.


    Please read these guidelines carefully. Applications that do not meet these criteria for fieldwork should not be submitted by schools, and students should be advised that the Graduate Research in Arts Travel Scheme (GRATS) and other funding are more appropriate.

    Please note: assessment of applications for fieldwork support will be based not on the discipline involved, but the methodology involved.

    Methodological approaches relevant to this scheme include ethnographic research techniques and studies requiring participant observation over a sustained period of time. Variants of such approaches include action research or participatory action research which requires candidates to be embedded in a particular research environment for an extended period of time.

    Studies with an interview component may or may not qualify as fieldwork - as with other methodologies, it is up to the applicant to make the case that being in particular place(s) for a period of time to conduct the interviews is integral to the research.

    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 support is for projects 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).

    Hence, fieldwork under this scheme is distinguished from other research travel to collect data and information from archives, libraries, museums and galleries (which can be funded by schemes such as GRATS) by three elements:

    1. The fieldwork research employs the ethnographic, field-based and observation techniques and research methodologies that are typically associated with, but are not restricted to, the disciplines of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics
    2. The fieldwork is essential to the project because research date being collected can "only be obtained by undertaking work at a specific field location", because they must be "studied in their specific locational context, otherwise the purposes of the research cannot be achieved", and
    3. the fieldwork component typically will involve a minimum of three months away from Melbourne, and frequently significantly longer periods of time (whether as one trip, or several repeat trips.) 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
  • Application process

    Download the PhD Fieldwork application form (305kb pdf)


    • 1 March for fieldwork beginning between April and September
    • 1 September for travel between October and March

    Applications will be considered by a committee of academic staff representing the principal fieldwork disciplines, chaired by the Associate Dean (Research) or his or her nominee.


    The application must include:

    • Description of the thesis project
    • Description of the fieldwork methodology, demonstrating how it meets the criteria above
    • Detailed timetable for fieldwork travel (including timetable of expenditure)
    • Budget for the planned fieldwork in Australian Dollars (AUD), including
      • Budget must be itemised in detail
      • Justification of the source of quotations for airfares, and the source of other costs requested
      • A detailed case must be made for why accommodation or research assistance costs should be supported

    The application must be accompanied by a letter from the student's principal supervisor outlining:

    • How the student's 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

    Applications need to be signed by the Head of School, with an explicit commitment of the total financial contribution to the fieldwork program from the School. All applications will be considered on their merits. Grants will be approved subject to eligibility and the availability of funding.

    Overseas travel to high risk destinations

    Approval of all PhD Fieldwork will be contingent upon the current DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) advice in respect to level of safety of the overseas destination.

    Applications which include travel to a destination issued with a DFAT warning must also include a request for "Special Circumstances Approval". All such requests will be referred to the Academic Registrar and must be accompanied with documentation of the grounds for this special consideration. The University's Travel and off campus work web page can provide more information.

    Insurance: student cover

    To accommodate the Travel Insurance needs of all University of Melbourne students engaged on University Approved Travel, a Student Travel Insurance Policy has been established. Under this Travel Insurance Policy, FREE Travel Insurance is provided for all University of Melbourne students under one of 2 separate categories. Please consider the Travel Insurance Policy carefully, and, if you are eligible, complete all formalities at least five (5) University Business Days prior to departure.

    It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that adequate insurance cover has been obtained and that the insurance meets all of their needs.

    Retrospective applications

    Out-of-round applications will not be considered but may be accepted retrospectively and assessed as such during the following round of applications.

    Submit a scholarship application now

What are the benefits?

Funds are limited and highly competitive for this scheme.

The maximum allowable under the Fieldwork Grant scheme is $10,000 over the duration of the PhD candidature (whether in one long trip, or several repeat trips). Schools are required to contribute a minimum of 25% of the total budget.

Items usually funded

  • The costs of return (economy) fares to the primary site of field research
  • Domestic travel and transport costs
  • Government Fees - evidence of fees must accompany application
  • Access fees (ie Research Visas, National Park entrance fees) - evidence of fees must accompany the application

Funding in exceptional circumstances

  • Accommodation costs, where a clear and persuasive case is made that accommodation while on fieldwork is significantly more expensive than usual. In these cases, the Fieldwork scheme will normally cover not the whole cost of accommodation, but the difference between the cost of accommodation in Melbourne and that at the research site/s
  • Research assistance, where a clear and persuasive case is made that paying for such assistance in situ is essential, such as for interpreting and/or gatekeeper/community access
  • In cases of application for either accommodation or research assistance, the onus is on the student, and supervisor, to persuade the Fieldwork Committee that these additional costs should be supported

The Scheme does not fund

  • 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 (Refer to Background section above, and consider an application for the Graduate Research in Arts Scheme (GRATS) instead)
  • Visits to other universities, either to attend courses or to consult with academics
  • Data gathering or analysis performed by professional fieldwork companies or private individuals on behalf of the applicant
  • For further information on collaborative grant schemes, applicants undertaking collaborative projects are referred to the Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Australian Research Council (ARC), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and internal grants and fellowships web pages
  • Living expenses, including accommodation are expected to be covered by either the applicant's scholarship or other sources
  • the provision of mail costs, equipment, and consumables (eg. tapes and batteries) is the responsibility of the candidate and/or the School (in addition to its 25% contribution to the grant)
  • Travel insurance over and above the University policy


Graduate Research

Room 230
Old Arts (Building 149)
The University of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010

Email: arts-research@unimelb.edu.au

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