HUMN 7021 Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places

Credit Points 20

Legacy Code 800213

Coordinator Scott Flower Opens in new window

Description Working overseas is demanding and poses unique research challenges as well as risks to personal security and safety. This seven-day intensive subject teaches a range of applied research approaches, field skills, techniques and technologies to prepare students for operating safely overseas. The immersive scenario-based role-play learning is delivered at an off-site location. Drawing on United Nations accredited curriculum, the subject equips students with an appreciation for the major methodological, ethical, legal, logistical and personal challenges they are likely to confront when working 'in the field.' The subject is of special relevance to students seeking employment in Government and NGO sectors.

School Graduate Research School

Discipline Studies in Human Society, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 20cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Postgraduate Coursework Level 7 subject


Students must be enrolled in a postgraduate or High Degree Research program code.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. produce a high-quality fieldwork-focused Research Plan, Ethics Application and Risk Management Plan with supporting documentation;
  2. demonstrate a practical understanding of the University Risk Management, OHS, Security and Travel Guidelines;
  3. understand the range of personal and institutional moral, legal and ethical issues involved with fieldwork;
  4. articulate the pros and cons of specific research methods and analytical tools appropriate for addressing their fieldwork research question/problem
  5. undertake applied research or work in a complex and hostile location;
  6. 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;
  7. understand in advanced capacity what complex and hostile environments are, and be able to manage personal and research participant risks whilst undertaking effective research; and
  8. make effective plans and decisions regarding fieldwork (prior to, during and after deployment) as part of an overarching research strategy.

Subject Content

1. A Fieldwork Philosophy
2. Scoping the research question/s in preparation for the field
3. Applied Research Design
4. Ethical considerations and applications
5. Legal issues and obligations
6. Data collection methods, data management and cyber security in the field
7. Fieldwork planning and risk management: approaches and techniques
8. Practical field craft ? travel, health and safety skills for fieldwork in complex and hostile places
9. Security Context
10. Field Preparedness and Evacuation
11. Field Communication Protocol
12. Sexual Assault
13. Residence Assessment Exercise
14. Basics of Negotiation
15. Coping with Insecure Environments: Stress Awareness
16. Weapons Awareness
17. Fire and Movement
18. Introduction to GPS and Navigation
19. Field Communication Equipment
20. First Aid: Essentials for life support (EAR/CPR, major bleeding control & evacuation/repatriation)
21. Image and Acceptance
22. Vehicle Check Points/Road Blocks
23. Trip Planning
24. Crowds and Mobs
25. Field Security
26. Kidnap Avoidance and Hostage Survival
27. What to do on arrival in-country (i.e. flexible organisation, travelling light for mobility & security)
28. Patterns of behaviour and predictability including counter-surveillance
29. Stress Disorders (ASD & PTSD and mental health first aid)
30. How to not be a target (image and acceptance)
31. What to do regarding the presence of small arms
32. How to avoid and/or cope with threats of physical violence and physical violence


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Reflection 3,000 words 25 N Individual
Proposal 7,000 words 65 N Individual
United Nations learning modules 4 x modules - 9-10 hours in total 10 N Individual

Structures that include subject