Safety and security for fieldwork research

Professional skills courses

Course information

ECTS: 1,5
Number of session: 3
Hours per session: -
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Erasmus University and CERES
  • €300,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


  • Enrolment- and course-related questions:

Edition 1 (online)

Session 1
October 18 2022

Session 2
October 19 2022

Session 3
October 20 2022

Edition 2 (offline) Location: T19-01.

Session 1
June 13 2023

Session 2
June 14 2023

Session 3
June 15 2023
Morning (times t.b.d.)


When conducting field-based research or fieldwork, researchers often operate within complex and dynamic social and political contexts, and derive their data from that environment. Both the quality of research and the security of the researcher are a function of how well-planned the research is, taking into account the local context and the risk environment.

This course is designed to assist researchers in conducting their research in hazardous, remote or complex environments as safely and securely as possible, both for those working within their home country, or as foreigners.

More information about this and other CERES courses can be found in the CERES 2022-2023 programme.

Learning objectives

  • Prepare to travel to and work in the field in an insecure environment for the purposes of conducting research;
  • Understand the security risk management framework and be able to apply this to personal and team security to reduce risk;
  • Conduct a basic risk assessment and be able to identify security threats and their likelihood and impact;
  • Be able to understand and apply personal risk assessment and risk reduction measures in a dynamic environment;
  • Understand the link between personal security and security and integrity of research;
  • Have an enhanced understanding of key preparations before, during and after travel;
  • Identify the most prevalent threats to researchers and have an awareness of appropriate strategies as to how to best reduce exposure and minimise impact;
  • Be aware of, and able to minimise personal and team vulnerabilities to threats;
  • Understand what support to expect from the university and how to access this. 

About the instructor

The course will be led by three members of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), EUR: Professor Dorothea Hilhorst, Professor of humanitarian aid and reconstruction; Linda Johnson (former executive secretary ISS, now retired) and Rodrigo Mena, assistant professor of humanitarian aid and disaster governance.

The course is organised by CERES Research School for International Development. CERES is a Dutch research school for the field of International Development. The research school was founded in 1994 by six academic institutions in the Netherlands and has since expanded to include one institution in Belgium (Flanders). It has established links with many other universities and research institutes in the field of Development Studies both in the Netherlands and other European countries. The PhD researchers of Erasmus University Rotterdam also have access to the CERES courses (and free or discounted fees for members) via CERES institutional membership.