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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Postgraduate Course: Qualitative Methods and Ethnographic Fieldwork (PGSP11188)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis introduction to the collection of qualitative data using ethnographic methods will involve a substantial exercise in participant observation designed and carried out by each student during the semester. This will be the basis for discussion in seminar of the conceptual, practical and ethical issues of fieldwork, and for brief written reports by which the course will be assessed.
Course description This course is designed to give postgraduate students practice in gathering and analysing ethnographic data using a variety of qualitative methods, primarily participant-observation, but also interviewing, textual analysis, and visual methods. We also address the ethical issues presented by ethnographic fieldwork. Most importantly, this class is focused on the epistemological underpinnings of ethnography. Throughout the course students learn to approach ethnography not only as a methodological framework, but also as a way of seeing, knowing, and being in the world. This approach in turn shapes the form and content of arguments made on the basis of ethnographic research.

Outline content

Week One: Why Ethnography?
Week Two: The Ethics of Ethnographic Fieldwork
Week Three: In the Field I: Getting In
Week Four: In the Field II: Participation Observation
Week Five: Field Notes
Week Six: Visual Media as Ethnographic Data
Week Seven: Interviews
Week Eight: Texts as Ethnographic Data
Week Nine: Drawing Conclusions I
Week Ten: Drawing Conclusions II

This class is different from many of the other courses you will take as a graduate student. While part of our regular class meetings will follow a seminar-style format in which we discuss the week¿s readings, the primary focus of this course is practical research experience. All students must choose a local site for an ethnographic project, which they will carry out over the duration of the term. Much of our time together as a class will be spent working through individual ethnographic research projects, reviewing one another¿s notes and other data collected in order to sharpen our research skills. This is a course in which you are expected to do a lot of writing, as that is the primary activity and output of ethnography. Students should plan to spend a significant amount of time in their field sites, and this expectation is reflected in a lighter reading load than would normally be expected in a graduate seminar.
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
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  17
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be in two parts: a critical report analysing the methods used in a published ethnographic monograph of your choice (40%) and a final report making a preliminary analysis of your field site (60%).
Feedback Formative assessment: The first essay (critical report) will be marked according to the graduate school marking scheme, emphasising writing, argumentation, and the use of ethnographic evidence to support claims. This assessment will allow students to become familiar with the requirements for this course and the expectations for the final report.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate proficiency in specialised ethnographic research methods, especially participant-observation and field note-taking; demonstrate familiarity and experience with other methods, including archival research, testimony collection, and multispecies ethnography.
  2. Have effectively planned and carried out a field-based project. In this project students will demonstrate methodological flexibility and creativity, adapting ethnographic methods to dynamic fieldwork contexts and developing research tools specific to that context
  3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key ethical issues surrounding ethnographic research
  4. Draw on original ethnographic material to make an argument and be able to evaluate other arguments made on these terms
  5. Develop their capacity for working within a research community, providing feedback on and suggestion for others' research and engage and learn from the feedback of others
Reading List
Key Reading
Paul Atkinson, et al. 2001 Handbook of Ethnography, London: Sage.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information This course does not accept auditing students
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Stefan Ecks
Tel: (0131 6)50 6969
Course secretaryMr James Wills
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