Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme - Applications invited for 2019-20

8 January 2019

Applications are invited for the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) for Antarctic fieldwork in the 2019-20 field season, the closing date is 4 March 2019.

The CASS provides opportunities for UK-based researchers in recognised higher education institutes, other research council institutes, or approved independent research organisations to carry out small-scale research projects in the Antarctic. It provides a valuable opportunity to undertake either additional fieldwork to expand a funded project or initial research in preparation for submitting a full NERC grant proposal.

Nine CASS projects were funded in the 2018-19 Antarctic season. Funded projects have involved fieldwork at several of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research stations, including Rothera, Bird Island, King Edward Point, as well as field and ship-based projects on board BAS ships.

Capacity in the 2019-20 field season

The 2019-20 field season will see the continuation of a large-scale construction project at the Rothera Research Station, to build a new wharf in preparation for the RRS Sir David Attenborough. As a result, there will be very limited capacity to support additional science activities at Rothera, this includes CASS projects.

In order to maintain the usual capacity to support CASS, during the 2019-20 field season a unique opportunity has arisen for CASS projects to be supported aboard HMS Protector, the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship. HMS Protector completes several work packages over each austral summer season travelling to various locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula, this includes providing support to BAS. The duration of each work package is typically around 28 days. There will be specific logistics and safety planning requirements which must be complied with ahead of any deployment. Applicants should also be aware that scheduling of the HMS Protector work programme is not usually confirmed until May / June, therefore approval to support CASS projects would not be announced until this point.

Requirements and costs

It is intended that proposals to CASS will:

  • Propose research that could only be conducted in Antarctica or at a sub-Antarctic BAS-operated research station, rather than in a more accessible location.
  • Be relevant to NERC's science remit.
  • Work collaboratively by joining a specified Antarctic activity funded by NERC, and working within the logistic framework agreed for that activity. This ensures that minimal additional logistic commitment is required to support the CASS project.
  • Lead to findings that will be disseminated in the peer-reviewed literature.

Meeting the training and development needs of UK scientists at an early stage of their careers is an important part of NERC's responsibilities. CASS proposals which incorporate such opportunities for early career scientists are welcomed.

To support the CASS, NERC provides funding to meet the costs of travel from the UK to Antarctica, and of the polar clothing supplied by BAS, together with pre-deployment training and medical assessment expenses for fieldwork personnel.

How to apply

For further information about the scheme and an application form, please refer to the detailed guidance provided on the BAS website - external link.

The CASS application closing date for the 2019-20 field season is 16:00 on 4 March 2019.


If you have any questions, or for more information on this opportunity, please contact:

Katie Gosling
Polar Funding Coordinator, BAS
01223 221399

Jennifer Morris
NERC head office
01793 411503