PhD Social Anthropology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
PG Research Seminar

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN70940
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


The main aims of this course are to help students to develop their intellectual 'voice;' provide a forum for practicing presentation and communication skills; bring together theoretical and ethnographic literature, data and/or other resources to address a research problem; and to foster analytical and critical skills in students.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
- Bring together data from a range of sources in order to address a particular research issue;
- Critically assess and constructively comment upon the presentations of others
- Present their own work to others in an accessible, coherent and accessible style, both orally and in written form
- Understand more about the relationship between ethnography, interpretation and analysis
- Understand how to effectively develop an argument
- Understand how to incorporate suggestions and respond to critiques in revising an academic paper.

Teaching and learning methods


Assessment methods

One 4000 word essay

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 148

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Karen Sykes Unit coordinator
Soumhya Venkatesan Unit coordinator
Michelle Obeid Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This is a seminar for all students taking the MA in Anthropological Research and the MPhil/PhD programme in Social Anthropology. It runs over both semesters. It brings together pre-fieldwork and post-fieldwork students in a collective forum in semester 1 when the focus is on post fieldwork students presenting draft chapters.

The seminar structure provides an opportunity for pre fieldwork students to engage with the work of post-fieldwork students and understand more about the relationship between defining a research problem and dealing with the data after fieldwork and the opportunity to discuss their research plans in a wider group. Students are expected to give a verbal presentation which introduced their work and to pre circulate a written paper which provides the basis of discussion in the group.

A core objective of the seminar is to develop writing and analytical skills including the capacity to respond to criticism.

For pre-fieldwork students, the presentation is on a particular area of focus in the proposed research (rather than a complete research proposal).

For post-fieldwork students, it is a chance to present parts of the analysis and results of their research amongst peers, and to work through intellectual, methodological and presentational issues. The presentation is often the basis of a chapter in the thesis (rather than necessarily a complete and polished chapter).

The seminar provides an opportunity to develop an intellectual discussion group that lasts throughout the year, encouraging the development of an environment in which often difficult and complex issues can be addressed, often from a range of different perspectives, and addressed towards a range of different regions and topics. The aim is to build constructive discussions between people at different stages of their research.

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