Security for fieldworkers

Professional skills courses

Course information

Number of session: 3
Hours per session: 4.5
Course fee:

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


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School).

Session 1 (online)
October 26 (Tuesday) 2021

Session 2 (online)
October 27 (Wednesday) 2021

Session 3 (online)
October 28 (Thursday) 2021


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.

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.