ANTHY515-21A (HAM)

Ethnographic Research Methods

30 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences


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Paper Description

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Ethnographic approaches are foundational in anthropology, drawing on a range of qualitative methods to construct a portrait of people, their culture and lifeworlds in situ. Ethnographic methodologies have also become increasingly popular in non-anthropological disciplines which recognise the value of understanding social processes from ‘within’ the contexts in which they occur through participant-observation. This paper aims to equip students with both a sound theoretical understanding of ethnographic approaches, and a set of practical skills that may be immediately applied to academic or other forms of social research, inside and outside of anthropology. Students will have the opportunity to develop and carry out a complete research project with support and constructive feedback through each stage, including: planning and design of research, ethical issues and processes, life ‘in the field’, visual, digital, sensory, geospatial, and applied forms of ethnography, interviewing, data recording and analysis, and oral and written presentation of findings. Students who take this course can expect to come away with the skills, understandings, and experience of the research process necessary for self-directed research at masters-level or above.
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Paper Structure

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This course is taught in a weekly, three-hour seminar on Wednesdays from 2pm - 5pm . In addition to attending these classes, students will be expected to complete assignments and read materials. As a 30-point paper, the expected workload for this paper is an average of about 20 hours per week.

There are a number of assigned readings for each week listed below. These will be available to you through Moodle. You are expected to do all these readings prior to class, and arrive ready and willing to discuss them with your classmates. Alongside the required readings, some relevant and recommended resources will be linked through Moodle.

Our weekly classes will be discussion-based workshops that include practical activities aimed at developing your understanding and honing your research skills in relation to your research assignment and your future research plans. These classes also function as a space for supervision, guidance and support for you as you carry out your research project. For ethical and safety reasons, therefore, attendance is compulsory. If you are medically unable to attend a class, or need to miss a class due to life events (bereavement, family illness, etc.) you will need to negotiate this with the course convener. You may be asked to meet with your lecturer in person or via Zoom, and/or view the lecture online (live-feed or recording) in lieu of in-class supervision.

As a class member, you are also expected to arrive to class prepared, participate fully in activities, and create a safe and supportive environment for your classmates, including offering constructive feedback. As well as any questions or issues the readings raise for you, you should come prepared to share something you are taking away from the readings to apply to the development of your research project. As graduate students you are expected to think critically and independently, making connections for yourselves between the materials and ideas you are exposed to in different papers and be able to present and debate your ideas constructively with your peers.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

    • Understand how to develop a full research proposal for a small-scale study including creating a research question using a relevant theoretical frame

    • Design and carry out ethically sound ethnographic research with suitable supervision

    • Apply a growth-oriented approach to support the skills development of both yourself and your peers

    • Think reflexively about your positionality and how this shapes interrelationality in the field

    • Understand principles of participant observation and methodological issues attached to that method

    • Conduct semi-structured, formal interviews and be able to self-evaluate those interviews to assess the efficacy, ethics and appropriateness of interviewer approach, questions, and responsiveness

    • Use some basic techniques of qualitative data analysis

    • Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between research methods and ethnographic writing

    • Deliver an effective oral presentation of ethnographic research

    Linked to the following assessments:
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The course assessment is oriented around a core research project that you will develop, carry out, and report. The assessment components are designed to build upon each other to guide you through this process. You will be provided with a detailed description of each assessment component and assessment criteria on Moodle as well as in-class explanations.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Mini research proposal
19 Mar 2021
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Ethics application
2 Apr 2021
4:00 PM
  • Email: Lecturer
3. Positionality reflection
9 Apr 2021
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Annotated interview (self/peer)
14 May 2021
4:00 PM
  • Email: Lecturer
5. Seminar Presentation
2 Jun 2021
10:00 AM
  • In Class: In Lecture
6. Final project report
18 Jun 2021
No set time
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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The core textbooks for this class are:

Madden, Raymond. 2017. Being Ethnographic: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Ethnography. 2nd edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Bernard, H. Russell, and Clarence C. Gravlee, eds. 2014. Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. CA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Both of these are available through the library. Earlier editions are also acceptable.
Relevant chapters are assigned to various weeks’ readings, and supplemented with additional readings.

Readings are designed to support you to both think about method and use method and so comprise a mixture of theoretical and practical ‘how to’ approaches.

Readings should be completed BEFORE the class every Wednesday, and you should come to class with a brief, pre-written statement outlining one (or more, if you wish) thing you are taking away from the weeks’ readings. The object of this exercise is to encourage you to read with purpose and initiate thinking about how you could apply insights from the literature to the development or presentation of your project, and generate a basis for discussion.

Required readings for each week can be found on the course Moodle page.

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Online Support

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All resources for this course can be found on Moodle or Talis.
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This is a 30 point paper and so students can expect to spend 20 hours per week on lectures, readings, and assignments.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: ANTH515

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