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Department of Social Anthropology


Fieldwork clearance interviews will take place once you have submitted your fieldwork proposal and risk assessment form. You will be interviewed by the PhD Committee, and asked questions about your fieldwork, and the proposal you have submitted. 

At the start of the interview you may be asked to give a short summary of your project; and you may be asked about any aspect of your fieldwork plans that is covered in (or omitted from!) your fieldwork proposal.

You should be prepared to defend your choice of topic, field location, theoretical background, choice of research methods, the adequacy of your research training, the feasibility of completion within the time limit and practical issues, including budget, timetable, political and ethical issues. At the same time the interview is an occasion at which you can air questions and concerns with the PhD Committee. The Committee has a particular interest in the practicalities of the project, and is prepared (within reason) to offer advice.

Fieldwork clearance interviews are not merely a formality. Registration for the PhD, and thus continuation of the course, is dependent on approval from the PhD Committee. It is not uncommon for revision or clarifications of a student's fieldwork proposal to be required following the interview. If the PhD Committee finds that a student's fieldwork proposal needs revision before clearance can be granted, the student will be given the opportunity to revise and resubmit their proposal in consultation with their supervisor, and to have a second clearance interview if one is deemed necessary, though the PhD Committee may decide that a second interview is not required.

It is therefore not advisable to make inflexible travel or accommodation arrangements before you know the result of your fieldwork clearance interview. 

Once cleared for fieldwork you should depart for the field straightaway, with a minimum of delay. You should have dealt with visas, insurance, etc before your clearance interview and you should be prepared to begin your fieldwork as soon as you are cleared for the field by the PhD Committee.

In cases of problems such as illness, practical issues accessing your fieldsite or delays getting the necessary visas required to access the fieldsite, immediate consultation with your Supervisor and the PhD Committee Chair is vital.

Departmental review

Registration for the PhD, and thus continuation of the course, is dependent on successful completion of the clearance process. If a student's revised and resubmitted fieldwork proposal does not satisfy the PhD Committee about the project's viability and/or the student's readiness and ability to conduct successful PhD research, a Departmental review will take place. A review panel comprising three members of academic staff (excluding the student's supervisor and also excluding those members of the PhD Committee who evaluated the original and resubmitted proposals) will be constituted, and its members will decide whether to confirm or modify the decision made by the PhD Committee. The review panel will offer the student an opportunity for a further clearance interview. They will also consult the student's supervisor, and will review the relevant documents including the revised fieldwork proposal, supervision reports and any supplementary written submission the student wishes to provide in order to reach an independent decision about whether to clear the student for fieldwork and on that basis to register them for the PhD degree.