Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places (FCHP)

The Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places (FCHP) courses consists of in-classroom-based lectures and scenario/simulation learning environments.

The course can be tailored for:

  • Research Focus – 7 to 8 days;
  • Professional Development – 3 to 5 days;
  • or 1 Day Workshops for PHD Supervisors

The course covers:

  1. Applied research philosophy
  2. Research methodologies for field settings
  3. Ethical and legal considerations
  4. Data collection and data management
  5. Skills and techniques for undertaking fieldwork research
  6. Preparation tools, techniques, plans and technologies

The FCHP classroom based lectures were written by GCORE’s founder, Dr Scott Flower and tested and ratified by the University of Melbourne.

Photo: GCORE Australia Pty Ltd

This subject teaches a range of applied research methodologies, field skills and techniques to prepare students for undertaking detailed fieldwork research, for extended periods, overseas or in less secure and/or complex and hostile environments.

Students develop theoretically grounded, practical knowledge of what is required to undertake applied research in complex and hostile places. The subject provides a rigorous framework through which students can develop an integrated research plan, ethics application and a fieldwork risk management plan.

The specialist subject is taught by a combination of academics and professional security consultants. Dr Flower teaches the academic component which addresses applied research methods, principles of research risk management and university risk management.


As a student, you can join one of our classes offered at:


Student reviews

Timothy D Johnson
RhEACH Program Coordinator – Telethon Kids Institute
UWA February 2017

I participated in the UWA Intensive Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places Postgraduate Unit in 2017. The way in which the unit is structured allowed me to apply the classroom based components of the course in a simulated learning environment during the practical component of the course.

The opportunity to be able to employ these theoretical underpinnings in this way meant I was able to directly see the relevance of collecting, accessing and managing data effectively (and ethically) in the field. Whilst the course has a focus on conducting fieldwork in complex and hostile places, it has applicability to conducting fieldwork across all settings and since completing the course I have applied these learnings to my own work.

I see this course as a solid foundation for postgraduate students developing their research design and methodology in advance of commencing fieldwork, and would also highly recommend this course to researchers and industry professionals undertaking fieldwork as part of their roles to help inform and guide their practice.


Isabelle Dusting
University of Melbourne
April 2015

The Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places course assaulted all of my senses. Every exercise, lecture and debrief opened my eyes and changed my views on personal security and safety. Enacting the scenarios after learning the theory served to imprint everything I had learnt into my memory, ready to be used in any hostile situation I ever find myself in. Every preconceived idea I had on risk management was challenged and changed, making this course one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. It was the only practical course I completed in this Degree, and is thus very valuable for a career and for personal life.

Beyond research, this course has come into practice in my own personal travel. I used the tricks on how to move in a crowd in the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ march of 1.5 million people in Paris in January 2015, as well as using my new awareness prior to and after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks of this time. The FCHP course allowed me to feel more confident and comfortable in what to do in a state or situation of emergency.

Meredith Ulrich
University of Melbourne
April 2015

Fieldwork in Complex and Hostile Places was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had. I, like many people studying International Relations or a similar major, saw myself in a career that involved on-the-ground fieldwork. The experiential and immersive format of this class was powerful in that, it forced participants to confront the assumptions they have about themselves. The level of authenticity of the role-playing aspect of the course was so very valuable because I was actually placed in worse case scenario situations. While major incidents may not be highly likely, in fieldwork, it’s important to understand the risks and to accept them as a reality and decide if those risks are worth taking. This class not only taught me about the types of situations and security risks that one faces when going into the field, but also how I would react, how I would feel after, if I am able to function in insecure situations and achieve what I set out to do. Academically speaking, this class was extraordinarily well designed. Scott {the lecturer} was unbelievably comprehensive. He was systematic, thorough, and exhaustive in the topics we covered about how to think about, plan, conduct, and analyse research.

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