Fieldwork is any teaching or research activity performed in places outside the control of the University, but where it retains responsibility for the safety of the employee/student.
All students undertaking fieldwork are required to fill in a full written risk assessment. When completing the full written risk assessment the first step is to consider The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. The website details current travel advice for each country and you should describe how the advice relates to the activities you will be conducting. Where the FCO advise against travel to a particular destination but you still wish to undertake the trip, a written risk assessment must be submitted to the Head of School for all activities, including visiting libraries and conferences. The assessment will be submitted to the University Safety Office for comment before final approval can be given by the Head of School.
The reminder of the form asks you to consider the risks you may encounter and describe the measures you will take to minimise risk. General headers are provided as are examples of possible risks. Items on the list may not be applicable and the list is not intended to be exhaustive. Continue on a separate sheet as necessary. The object of any full risk assessment is to identify all the hazards associated with the work, to assess the risk that these hazards present under particular circumstances, and to plan mitigation. On completion the written assessment should evidence that you have identified the areas of work that present particular problems and put plans in place to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.
You should also plan to have contact with your supervisor at least once a month while on fieldwork, and at least every two weeks in FCO-flagged destinations or when carrying out other activities identified as high-risk.
Once the form has been completed it will be reviewed by the Divisional Safety Officer, the Safety Office (where necessary) and Head of Department. Please note the FCO website should be consulted on a regular basis before travel and a risk assessment updated where necessary should a situation in a country change.
University insurance cover is strongly advised. The online application form can be accessed at the following site and will require your Oxford Single Sign-On credentials: https://travelinsurance.admin.ox.ac.uk. Full details of the University insurance cover can be found on the University website. If you are not taking university insurance you must complete the Travel Evaluation Form (if your fieldwork is taking place in the UK, use the UK Travel Evaluation Form) and have it approved before fieldwork travel can begin. The Travel Evaluation Form/Insurance Application and Full RIsk Assessment provide the department with the information needed to monitor your safety while you are away.
Two steps must be completed and approved before fieldwork or business travel begin (even if travel insurance is not required).
Important, and in addition to University insurance: you must obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for travel in European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. This will cover you for emergency medical treatment only. You can apply for this on line here at the NHS website.
All completed travel-related forms should be returned to Neil Clarke at 51 Banbury Road at least 6 weeks before departure. If you have any questions, please contact Neil.
Fieldworkers' experiences website
The supervisors’ checksheet and practical guide
More information on fieldwork
More useful links on fieldwork
Links to training courses:
Preparation for safe and effective fieldwork
Fieldwork in Practice
Vicarious trauma workshops
Fieldwork in Discussion