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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

The School has now brought the Fieldwork funding deadlines in line with the University's financial year, please note below the revised deadlines. 

Application Form (New)

What Fieldwork Funding is

Fieldwork Funding is available to PhD students who are undertaking fieldwork as part of their course. The fund is given to the Department by the School, and the Department awards funds to students based on the applications it receives. Fieldwork Funding is intended as a way to assist students with their fieldwork expenses, within the terms set out below. Students should not expect to receive the full amount requested. Please be aware that funding awards may be capped if requests are significant. We usually issue funds of between £2000 and £4000.

There are two funding rounds run each calendar year for fieldwork trips: Late applications will not be accepted.

Round one – for funding issued in August for trips starting between August - January.  The application submission deadline is 17 May.
Round two – for funding issued in February for trips starting between February - August. The application submission deadline is 10 November.

What Fieldwork Funding is not

Fieldwork Funding is not a “fees refund”. The fund is not able to cover the full cost of fees and/or maintenance during periods of fieldwork, and students should not make applications on this basis.

POLIS Field work funding is not intended to be the singular form of funding for your research. We expect that you will apply to other sources of funding such as your College or funding body (if appropriate). We will ask for evidence that you have applied elsewhere prior to approving funds, if your application is successful.

When you can apply

1. You must be in the first three years of your PhD – i.e. you cannot apply for this fund when you are a final year student in the writing up period.

2. You must have Leave to Work Away approved before you apply for Fieldwork Funding, or have initiated the process.

3. You must apply for Fieldwork Funding before you leave for your Fieldwork.

Fieldwork Funding is not a reimbursement fund. The application must be made in advance of any period of LTWA, and any costs that predate the application or approval will be automatically discounted. Your application is an estimated account of your fieldwork expenses; if successful, you will be paid the money in advance and asked to provide accounting and receipts on your return (See below for more details).

4. You must apply for the correct round for which the start of your travel falls in but you may apply to both rounds within a 12 month period, if required (for separate trips). Please note, priority will be given to those applying for the first time. You must have reconciled previous fund payments before you can apply again - please note that second and third applications may not be approved if we receive a large amount of first time applicants in any particular funding round. If the dates of your trip overlaps the rounds then you only need to apply once but please make this clear in your application.

What you can apply for

Funding is only provided for fieldwork research-related costs that exceed those that you would ordinarily meet if staying in Cambridge.

Priority will be given to travel and accommodation expenses, including:

  1. Airfare – please use Skyscanner or a similar comparison site for the cheapest option
  2. Travel/transport costs to and around fieldwork location
  3. Accommodation - please use or a similar comparison site for the cheapest option

Note about Airbnb: The University Travel Insurance (which is free for students going on LTWA) will not cover Airbnb bookings. While POLIS allows the use of Airbnb, it is only to be used in cases where regulated accommodation is not available. When using Airbnb, you must read through and follow POLIS' full policy and submit a completed H&S Unregulated Accommodation Agreement. You will also need to arrange alternative insurance for the use of Airbnb. 

Additional claims (with the support of your supervisor) can be made for:

  1. Research expenses – such as language learning, entrance to archives, visiting scholar fees
  2. Ancillaries - you are permitted to apply for the costs of employing fieldworkers to assist with data collection (e.g. conducting door to door surveys) and to act as translators.


  1. You may not apply for basic maintenance and subsistence costs as you are normally expected to meet these costs in Cambridge.
  2. You are not permitted to apply for the costs of employing fieldworkers to assist with any form of data entry or transcription.
  3. You are not permitted to apply for the costs of personal equipment such as laptops, voice recorders or external hard drives, as students in Cambridge are normally expected to meet these costs themselves.
  4. Students registered at an approved Non-University Institution (NUI) cannot apply for assistance from this fieldwork fund.
  5. Students participating in an approved exchange agreement where there is a period spent at another institution and fees are waived at Cambridge (e.g. A*, NIH) cannot apply for assistance from this fieldwork fund.
  6. Students with sponsorship that includes adequate resources for fieldwork expenses are not eligible to apply for these funds.

Receipts - Guidelines

Receipts must be kept for all expenses incurred and the full amount awarded accounted for or the balance returned.

All receipts must be returned to the POLIS Administrative Office within one month of your return to Cambridge. You will be sent an email to remind you of this.

If for any reason the fieldwork is abandoned or is unsuccessful and you return to Cambridge early, you must inform the Department and allow it to recover the fieldwork allowance, less any reasonable expenditure already incurred. We will also seek to recover funds if a student withdraws from study during the period of fieldwork claim.

Receipts should all be original receipts – debit/credit card receipts or statements will not suffice and nor will photocopies or scanned receipts.

If it is difficult to obtain receipts where you are travelling then please take a receipt book with you which can be signed by those you are paying and also a notebook to keep track of cash transactions where you couldn’t get receipts.

Receipts in foreign currencies are fine.

When returning the receipts, please include an itemised breakdown/list of the receipts. Grouping the receipts into categories such as Flights, Transport and Accommodation is acceptable.

Any unspent money should be returned to the University bank account (details will be provided when you return from fieldwork), corresponding receipts for money spent should also be scanned and emailed to the department at this time. Unaccounted for money will be assumed to be unspent.

Policy for Return of Unspent Funds

Unspent money should be returned within one month of your return to Cambridge. Any unspent money should be returned to the University bank account, details will be provided on your return.

If the Department has not received the unspent money within three months of your return to Cambridge, we will inform your Supervisor and your PhD Course Director of the outstanding debt.

If the Department has not received the unspent money within six months of your return to Cambridge, we will inform your College and raise an invoice for the outstanding amount.

If for any reason you are unable to return the funds in full upon your return, it may be possible to arrange a repayment plan with the Department. You should contact the POLIS Department Administrator to discuss this as soon as possible.

If the outstanding debt remains more than a year after your return to Cambridge (with no repayment plan in place), the Department will engage a professional debt collection agency.