University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Postgraduate Course: Design Ethnography (level 11) (DESI11088)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will introduce you to ethnographic modes of enquiry and ethnographic research skills relating to the fields of design, visual communication and the built environment. With the intent of fostering a critical understanding of both visual and material culture, Design Ethnography will provide you with a range of qualitative research skills that are necessary in the exploration of a diverse range of social and cultural contexts.
Course description How can we investigate and understand the diverse range of individuals and communities that we design for? Alternatively, how do these communities and individuals shape and interact with the designed products, environments and visual communication concepts that surround us in our day-to-day? This course will introduce you to some of the key concepts, theories and issues in the field of ethnography and their application within design research. With the aim of supporting you in the development of research skills that are commonly used during fieldwork, such as participant observation, interviews and collaborative design techniques, the course will also encourage you to apply these techniques in a real context. Fostering an in-depth understanding of socio-cultural contexts as a way of improving the relevance and quality of design, this course will draw on examples from material culture, visual communication and the built environment. By encouraging you to explore ways in which design both shapes and is shaped by different people in different contexts, this course will finally encourage you to investigate specific case studies as well as relevant literature.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 1. Develop: Develop: Demonstrate the ability to select an appropriate research topic that engages with one of the themes introduced in the course and identify potential research strategies including a review of relevant scholarly literature.
  2. Investigate: Select and employ rigorous research tools to investigate and critically discuss key ideas and themes that are relevant to your chosen research topic.
  3. Analyse: Demonstrate a critical and in-depth understanding of the chosen topic and of the debates that underpin the methods of research and enquiry that you have selected in response to the brief.
  4. Communicate: Communicate your research and analysis in a professional, synthesised and coherent way for a specified audience and while using the appropriate visual or audio-visual documentation to illustrate and develop your argument.
Reading List
Angrosino, M. (2007). Doing ethnographic and observational research. Los Angeles, Calif.; London: SAGE

Emerson, R. (1995). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago, Ill. ; London : University of Chicago Press.

Gunn, W., Otto, T., and Charlotte Smith, R. (2013) Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. Bloomsbury Academic.

Jenkins, T.. (1994). Fieldwork and the Perception of Everyday Life. Man, 29(2), 433:455.

Pink, S. (2009). Doing Sensory Ethnography. Los Angeles ; London: SAGE.

Pink, S. (2007). Doing visual ethnography images, media and representation in research. London: SAGE.

Spradley, J. (1979) The ethnographic interview. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Wolcott, H. (1999). Ethnography: A way of seeing. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills To exercise autonomy and initiative in the development of projects.
To be able to be able to identify and apply processes and strategies for learning.
To be able to search for, evaluate and use information to develop their knowledge and understanding
To be intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest.
To make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding.
Keywordsdesign,ethnography,user-centered design,research through design 15. Course proposal information
Course organiserDr Sonia Matos
Tel: (0131 6)51 5753
Course secretaryMr Ryan Farrell
Tel: (0131 6)51 7400
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information