Field Courses

Fieldwork is a vital part of an Earth scientist’s training. Our field courses are designed to provide a wide range of practical exercises and field experience in geology and geophysics: observing, measuring, recording, mapping, and problem-solving. Students complete up to 90 days of field training throughout the course, including their 4-6 week independent mapping project in the summer after 2nd year. For many, the individual mapping is the highlight of their undergraduate career.

Students Eleni Wood, Anna Bidgood, Robert Fox and Chantelle Roelofse made a short video of their independent mapping fieldwork in summer 2013:

Fieldwork Costs

Fieldwork requires some basic equipment. Safety equipment such as helmets, hi-vis vests and goggles are provided by the Department, free of charge. Over the past five years, basic field equipment such as mapping notebooks, Estwing hammer, etc. has been provided for students by an anonymous alumni donor.  From 2019, it is likely that students will have to pay for some essential equipment, at approximately £75 per person.  We are grateful to the Oxford Geology Group for their support in providing some essential equipment, and to BP for providing compass clinometers to all students at the start of the course.

Throughout your course, your fieldwork will take you to a variety of terrain and weather conditions; it is therefore essential that you have suitable outdoor clothing for all eventualities. Relatively inexpensive good quality clothing can be purchased from specialist outdoor retailers who can also provide useful advice e.g. Cotswold Outdoors, Blacks, GO Outdoors, Decathlon or independent retailers. While some of our students may already have these items, many will be purchasing them for the first time, ahead of starting the course and we recognise that this is an additional financial outlay. The Department has negotiated a discount code for use at Cotswold Outdoors, but remember that not all kit has to be bought new. Second hand items that have been well looked after can be just as good! It’s worth exploring all options: websites such as Gumtree and ebay are often a good source for bargains, or even your local charity shop could be worth a look. Discount retailers such as TK Maxx and Sports Direct also sell outdoor clothing at reduced prices. Just remember, it’s important that you try the kit on before starting the course, particularly walking boots or shoes, to check that they fit comfortably! It is also worth noting that colleges may have hardship funds available which can support with the purchase of kit, so students are encouraged to contact their colleges to find out.

Finding additional funding

Fieldwork is a core part of the course, and as such, students do not pay for field courses organised by the department. However, to do justice to your 3rd year mapping project, and some 4th year projects, you may require additional financial support. The following sites and organisations may be of use, though please note the department is not responsible for the content of these sites, nor any eventual outcomes.

College Travel Grants – see your individual College for how to apply

MinSouth & Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) – offer scholarships and bursaries

Oxford Geology Group – our local interest group offer modest bursaries for student members

Oxford Alumni Network Travel Grants – often restricted to students from, or travel to, a particular location.

The Geological Society of London – has numerous funds available to support research and field work projects.

Important: Fieldwork Safety Documentation

Click here for essential field safety guidelines and risk assessment forms.  Please note access to these documents requires your University Single Sign On (SSO).

Fieldwork and Covid-19

Sadly we have had to cancel some of our trips for 2020 due to the pandemic. We’re keeping a close eye on the government guidance for social distancing and exploring ways in which we might safely re-instate field trips in the next academic year. In the meantime, we’re also developing a suite of new virtual field trip resources. While this is never going to be quite as good as getting out there in person, it means we’ll have your learning experience covered in the meantime. We are confident that trips will be able to run again in the future, so you will get to experience fieldwork during your undergraduate course.