SOCS5911 Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places

12 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Fieldwork can be demanding and poses unique research challenges as well as risks to the security and safety of the researcher and research participants. Fieldwork also relies on the researcher's ability to clearly understand their research design and methods in order to effectively and ethically access, collect and manage data in the field. This unit is taught intensively over an eight-day period. It is delivered in two parts, comprised of four days of classroom-based lectures and four days in a scenario/simulation learning environment. It covers applied research philosophy, methodologies, field skills and techniques to prepare students for undertaking detailed fieldwork research with vulnerable research participants and/or for extended periods in less secure, complex and/or hostile environments. The content is taught by a combination of academics and professional security consultants. The academic component, which addresses applied research methods, principles of research risk management and university risk management is taught by Dr Scott Flower.
Students are able to (1) have an advanced understanding of complex and hostile environments and be able to manage risks whilst undertaking effective research; (2) have the capability to efficiently and effectively draft a Research Plan, Ethics Application and Risk Management Plan (with supporting documentation); (3) explain the University's Risk Management, OHS, Security and Travel Guidelines; (4) explain the range of ethical issues confronting researchers, participants and universities when undertaking fieldwork research; (5) select specific research methods and analytical tools that are appropriate (intellectually, psychologically and practically) for addressing their research question and collected data in a complex and hostile place among vulnerable research populations; (6) be confident completing practical scenarios that demonstrate their awareness of the key personal security challenges confronting researchers in the field and how to respond appropriately to mitigate or manage such risks; and (7) have the ability to make plans and decisions regarding fieldwork (prior to, during and post deployment) as part of an overarching research strategy.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) participation; (2) written fieldwork report; and (3) a research plan. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr David Mickler
Unit rules
completion of 24 points of postgraduate study
approval by the unit coordinator. Students must submit a Researcher Profile Self-assessment prior to enrolment as part of an expression of interest in undertaking SOCS5911 Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places.
Advisable prior study:
Students enrolling in this subject ideally would have undertaken coursework in research methods at undergraduate
Honours level
have gained introductory level knowledge of research methodologies and practice through relevant work experience.
SOCS5912 Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places Part 2
Approved quota: 30—selection Criteria: This subject requires submission of a Researcher Self-assessment form to the subject contact 10 days before the Pre-teaching Period Start date. Places in the subject will be allocated in order of satisfactory submissions received, with preference given to students in Master of International Relations or Master of International Development Studies, and to students who have impending travel overseas that need specific training to operate in complex or less secure environments.
Confirmation of enrolment will be notified to students, and unsuccessful applicants will be advised via email.
Incidental fees
Incidental student fees and charges are costs incurred by students as part of their studies at UWA that are in addition to their tuition fees (further information is available here or contact your Faculty Office).
Participation in this unit will incur the following incidental fee(s):
Costs associated with Red R certifiable field training (estimated cost - 200).
Contact hours
96 hours (lectures: 4 day intensive at Crawley campus; practical and lecture: 4 day intensive at field site outside of Perth

Sriram, C. L. et al. eds Surviving Field Research: Routledge 2009

Creswell, J. W. and Plano Clark, V. L. Designing and conducting mixed methods research , 2nd edn: Sage 2011

Operational Security Management in Violent Environments, December 10 2010: Humanitarian Practice Network

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.