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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Updated February 2019

Risk Assessment form 

Threat Table


Fieldwork Training

All MPhil students proposing to carry out fieldwork will be required to complete an online training course on travel and fieldwork safety. You will be provided with further information about this by your MPhil Administrator in Michaelmas Term. 

Fieldwork and Risk Assessment Procedure

In order to carry out fieldwork, students must apply for and be granted Leave to Work Away from Cambridge. You must apply for LTWA for all research absences over 2 weeks.

It is very important that the University has a record of where you are when not in Cambridge. For those students sponsored under Tier 4, it is absolutely essential.

You should not consider leaving Cambridge without having received notification by email from the Student Registry that your application to work away has been approved. 

Leave to Work Away on the Student Registry website. 

As part of the application for Leave to Work Away, every student must complete a risk assessment; the most recent form can be found at the top of this page. We require a risk assessment for all LTWA applications.

The completed risk assessment should be approved and signed by your Supervisor before you upload it to your LTWA application; you should also submit a copy to your MPhil Administrator. 

Students conducting fieldwork that do not need to apply for Leave to Work Away (i.e. travelling for less than two weeks) will still need to complete the risk assessment form and send the completed form to the MPhil Administrator and MPhil Director.

All completed risk assessments are kept in the student’s electronic file along with a check in log of contact with the student, when this is required (see below).

The MPhil Administrator will sign up to Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel email alerts for each country where students are conducting fieldwork.

Once you have applied for Leave to Work Away and returned your Risk Assessment, both forms will be considered by the relevant Postgraduate Education Committee. 

If concerns are raised by the Postgraduate Education Committee about any aspect of your proposed fieldwork, you and your Supervisor will be contacted and asked to provide additional assurances, to put more robust systems in place to ensure your safety, or to adapt your plans.

When necessary, students may be asked to complete further training in fieldwork safety and security; if this happens, you will be contacted with details of the supplementary training.

Once your applications have been approved by the Postgraduate Education Committee, approval is then sought from the Department of POLIS Degree Committee. Once passed by the Degree Committee, the application for Leave to Work Away is processed by the Student Registry who will notify students of their official permission to leave Cambridge. 

Leave to Work Away Check in Procedure

Students who are conducting Leave to Work Away in locations that have an Amber Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning are required to check in weekly with their MPhil Administrator. However, students who are nationals of the country they are conducting fieldwork in, and who have either family or friends in-country, will not be required to check in.

Students are expected to return to Cambridge if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning for a location changes to Red (advise against all travel).

Students who fail to check in will be contacted by the MPhil Administrator, and if they still fail to return contact, the administrator will contact the first emergency contact.

If the emergency contact has had no contact with the student the administrator will alert the student’s supervisor, MPhil Director, Department Administrator, the University’s Insurance Section and the relevant embassies.

Degree Committee Meeting Dates

To be included on the agenda, applications must be ready at least 10 days prior to the meeting. 


Fieldwork Data Security

A lecture/seminar from UIS and the Computer Laboratory on fieldwork data security, with recommendations for staff and research students working outside the UK. Credit to David Modic and Kieren Lovell.