Research Scholarships & Expeditions

Tom Ward

An introduction from Professor Tom Ward

Students are part of the research culture of Newcastle University. Students develop as independent thinkers and are exposed to the vibrant research environment of the University. We support undergraduate students through the Research Scholarship scheme to allow them to work alongside researchers on summer projects and, through the Expeditions scheme, to undertake field research in other countries. These enable students to experience research at first hand and to develop key skills. Recent projects involved researching in archives, working on archaeological material, collecting, analysing and interpreting social data, working on a laboratory project, or travelling to another part of the world to undertake research in an unfamiliar and challenging environment.

Independent research carried out with the support of more experienced researchers builds confidence and develops analytical skills. For some students the experience of research will stimulate or confirm an interest in postgraduate research, for others it will be a way to enhance and demonstrate some of the skills they have developed.

As well as encouraging students to explore their interest in pursuing further research, the University has a strong ethos of supporting interdisciplinary work which allows students to work collaboratively on joint research projects.

Whatever the domain of activity, these research activities provide an opportunity for students to find out what research is like, to develop research and problem solving skills and to engage in enquiry based learning. The production of a poster at the end of the project helps to develop the student's presentational skills and underline the importance of being able to communicate research findings to a variety of audiences.

I am grateful to all the students and staff who have been involved in this scheme in the past, and look forward to meeting the next group of students who take advantage of it.

Professor Tom Ward
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)



An Introduction from Dr Emma Pearson

The history of student expeditions at Newcastle dates back to 1948 when a small group of Geography undergraduates took part in a pioneering expedition to Iceland, guided by Hal Lister, a Reader in the Geography Department and noted Arctic and Antarctic explorer. Subsequent expeditions over the past seventy one years have been organised and conducted by students themselves from a wide range of disciplines from each of the three faculties to countries as diverse as Brazil, Greenland, Iceland, Israel, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tibet and Zambia. Research has been carried out on a range of topics including biodiversity, ethnography and rock art, tropical diseases, medicinal plants, nursing care, melting glaciers, territoriality and identity, forest tribes, and nomadic communities.

Organising an overseas expedition is a challenging exercise, requiring students to develop research aims and objectives, identify study sites, learn new techniques, obtain field equipment, and liaise with research counterparts and institutions overseas. An additional challenge is that overseas expeditions often require substantial funding which the students must raise themselves, including from external professional bodies such as the Royal Geographical Society and commercial sponsorship.

The students who rise to these challenges gain a wide range of valuable skills and also benefit from team-working and leadership experience. In addition to the hugely rewarding experience that students gain throughout the whole expedition process from planning through to successful completion and write-up, they always return with new skills, a huge sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, and increased confidence and maturity.

Dr Emma Pearson
Chair of University Expeditions Committee