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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: The Practice of Field-Work in the Study of Religion (REST11020)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySome understanding of theoretical, ethical and practical aspects of field work is essential for students engaging in research with people. Given that a focus on religion is common to all students in Divinity, and that research in this area faces some very particular issues, this course will enable post-graduate students from Religious Studies Practical Theology, and World Christianity to gain the necessary competence and confidence.
Course description Academic Description:
This methodology course aims to investigate the manner in which fieldwork plays an important role in the study of religion. Some understanding of theoretical, ethical and practical aspects of fieldwork is essential for students engaging in research with people. Given that a focus on religion is common to all students in Divinity, and that research in this area faces some very particular issues, this course will enable undergraduate students especially but not only from Religious Studies and Practical Theology to gain the necessary competence and confidence. In order to achieve this, the course combines strong theoretical and practical discussion ranging from insider/outsider issues in the study of religion, alongside detailed classwork on participant observation, interview techniques, and writing up fieldwork notes. These debates will be carefully considered both in the lectures and the seminar discussions based on readings that are both empirically rich and theoretically innovative.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The complexity and richness of the course will be illustrated through thematic considerations such as the importance of ethnographic methods, validity and reliability, the researcher as research tool. It will also look at issues surrounding religion, faith and praxis and how to approach group-based research in religion. More theoretical considerations will be examined through the insider/outsider problems in fieldwork, the geo-political dimensions of fieldwork in religion, and a practical way to conceptualise and plan a research project. It will finally consider the place the self in fieldwork and the wider colonial genealogies of (ethnographic) fieldwork in/of religion.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course has a programme of two-hour weekly meetings consisting sometimes of one-hour weekly lectures, and one-hour seminar discussions. Because this is also a practical course that will involve individual and group work to design, implement and also do fieldwork, some of the sessions will not follow the traditional lecture-seminar model. The meetings will be interactive and will allow students to engage with the topic through lecture and seminar discussion. Through their participation in lectures, seminars, written work, final projects, and feedback offered, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  10
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 160 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% - Short individual research exercise silently observing a place of religious practice in Edinburgh, with 750 word report

20% - Joint research exercise (maximum of 4 students working together) on one group in Edinburgh (place of worship/religious linked charity/faith-linked housing, etc) related to the practice of religion, including observation, interview/ discussion, assessment of group's literature (2000 word collective report, assuming 500 words per person)

70% - Research essay on Edinburgh-based field-work agreed with CO (4000 words)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Show a critical understanding of the contribution of field work to the study of religions.
  2. Identify, carry out and evaluate practical research in Edinburgh related to the broad field of religion, using anthropological approaches, presented in a 4000 word essay and two field-work reports.
  3. Translate this training to their doctoral or dissertation work.
  4. Show engagement with the secondary sources and scholarly debates on the relevant issues.
  5. Construct lucid arguments, especially in written work, and to learn important communication skills through presentations and group discussions.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Alysa Ghose
Course secretaryMr Ross Muir
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