BASS Sociology and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
The Ethnographer's Craft

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN20842
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Anthropology
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course aims to give students practice in ethnographic research methods: including participant observation and semi-structured interviews. It will also address conceptual issues such as "studying up", writing culture and anthropology at home. Questions of how to design, carry out and write up a small research project will be covered and explored through practice. The course explores the politics and ethics of diverse forms of "participation" in the fieldwork site, representation in ethnographic writing, and how wider historical, political and cultural issues condition ethnographic research. It is aimed for students who will be doing a dissertation in social anthropology.


Restricted Course

Restricted to BSocSc, BASS with SOAN pathway, and joint degree students with SOAN in SALC (Archaeology, Linguistics, Religion).


The aim of this course is to familiarise students with diverse conceptual and practical approaches to ethnography in the contemporary world, exploring key debates on ethnographic and anthropological research. Students will acquire and develop ethnographic skills and techniques through hands on experience undertaking a short local research project. This work in progress will be closely monitored and developed through collective reflections and discussions in class. The course is aimed for students who will be doing a dissertation in social anthropology.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will have acquired

  • a better understanding of the questions and complexities ethnographic fieldwork raises and can answer
  • skills to apply knowledge and theory in defining a research area and identifying appropriate ways of dealing with practical and conceptual problems
  • initial experience in participant observation and in ’writing up’ fieldwork
  • a better understanding of personal and conceptual relationships in and of the fieldwork site and an awareness of the politics of fieldwork
  • an appreciation of the fundamental role of ethnography for anthropological knowledge and theory.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly seminars (each session is divided into an interactive lecture followed by discussion, presentations, and practical work)

Assessment methods


1 x Oral Presentation - 20%

1 x Portfolio - includes 5 x 250 word weekly tasks - 25% (collectively)

1 x 3000 word essay - 55%


Feedback methods

Students will receive feedback on assessed work.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson. 1995. Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London, Routledge.[3 edition, published in 2007, available as en e-book through the Library].

Sanjek, Roger (ed.). 1990. Fieldnotes: the makings of anthropology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Paloma Gay y Blasco and Huon Wardle. 2007. How to read ethnography. Routledge. Oxford.

Robben, Antonius and Jeffrey Sluka (eds). 2006. Ethnographic fieldwork: an anthropological reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Behar, Ruth. 1996. The vulnerable observer: anthropology that breaks your heart. Boston: Beacon Press.

Wolcott , Harry F. 1995. The Art of Fieldwork.  Walnut Creek: Altimira

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 10
Lectures 20
Project supervision 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sebastien Bachelet Unit coordinator

Additional notes



Return to course details