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An opportunity to spend time “in the field”!

Doing fieldwork can be an opportunity to collect data for your thesis! Students from all Graduate School programmes can take the fieldwork course. You can do fieldwork in Sweden or anywhere, except where the Foreign Office recommends abstaining from travelling.


Why do Fieldwork?

The Fieldwork course gives students an opportunity to spend eight to ten weeks “in the field” and gather data locally, nationally, or internationally (e.g. inside an organisation, within a community, or in a foreign country) in order to answer a research question of interest.

The choice of the field is relevant for and guided by the programme of studies (i.e., Global Studies, Development Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Social Scientific Data Analysis or Social Studies of Gender). During the course, the student is “immersed” in the field, continuously engaging in research activities related to the chosen research topic and question(s).

The primary objective of the course is to give an opportunity for the student to collect primary and/or secondary data for a research project, which cannot be otherwise accessed by doing desk research. It is therefore an experiential course, where the student does not acquire knowledge through lectures and seminars, but uses the knowledge acquired in previous courses in the “real” world, and gains new knowledge through this practical experience. The processes of data collection can include:

  • Participation observation
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Structured interview (e.g. survey)
  • Focus-groups
  • Work in archives
  • Access to publicly unavailable material
  • Multi-sited data collection, etc.

Step-by-step Guide to the fieldwork course

Finding fieldwork

Fieldwork can take place locally (e.g., Lund or Malmö), nationally (e.g., Kiruna), or internationally (e.g., anywhere, except where the Foreign Office recommends abstaining from travelling due to e.g., political or health concerns). Data collection can take place at a public or private organisation (e.g., a national or local archive, an academic department, a research centre or institute, a think-tank, an editorial office, school, a social incubator or start-up, hospital, a shelter, a camp, an asylum reception centre, an NGO, an embassy, a company, a business, a foundation, etc.) and/or in a particular community or several communities simultaneously (e.g., among indigenous people, refugees, aid workers, diplomats, business people, teachers, doctors or nurses, public officials, etc.) in Sweden or abroad.

The idea to do fieldwork comes from students’ own research interests and is developed and organized by students independently. Some students might have already had a field experience by taking courses on fieldwork (e.g., SIMM25 at Graduate School). Others might know someone from their programme of studies who did fieldwork and can give a good piece of advice. The first step is to ask people around students’ programme of studies. 

Make sure your fieldwork adhere to the timeframe for the given course period

The course is given only during the first half of the Autumn term, and students who wish to take the course must make sure that their fieldwork adheres the following timeframe: The fieldwork must be at least 8 weeks long (30-40 hours of work per week) and can only start as early as two weeks before the start of the Autumn term (around mid-August), and last as long as the last of the end of Period 2. The fieldwork must start a week after the course start at the latest. Please see the dates listed in the info box on the right hand menu.

Fill out the Fieldwork Agreement Form

Once you have decided on a fieldwork project you need to have your planned fieldwork approved by Graduate School. The agreement form can be downloaded here and should be filled out carefully and signed. Once you have signed the agreement form, you submit it to Graduate School. You can leave the form in the student reception desk, bring it to the academic advisor during visiting hours or send a scanned copy of the form to lucie [dot] larssonova [at] sam [dot] lu [dot] se (lucie[dot]larssonova[at]sam[dot]lu[dot]se). The scanned copy must be of high quality.

Please note that the fieldwork agreement form is a three-party agreement for insurance purposes, meaning that the agreement form should be signed by you, a contact person in the field and Graduate School. If you do not have a contact person at your fieldwork destination, you may need to make private insurance arrangements; please contact lucie [dot] larssonova [at] sam [dot] lu [dot] se (lucie[dot]larssonova[at]sam[dot]lu[dot]se) for further information and instructions. 

The academic advisor will discuss the fieldwork agreement with the Director of Studies. The Director of Studies will approve the fieldwork or reject it due to incomplete description or other issues. You will receive confirmation by email. The agreement form is to be archived at the university but you will receive a scanned copy.

Finally, check the details for your destination

If you are doing your fieldwork abroad, it is your responsibility to check all details regarding travelling, VISA, accommodation, vaccinations etc. Remember to check the validity of your passport and make sure to bring the insurance certificate provided by Graduate School's academic advisor if you are going abroad. You will be required to post course assignments on Canvas, which means you will need an internet connection.

About the course

Next course period: 
2024-09-02 to 2024-10-31

Course syllabus

Course literature