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Unit information: Ethnography in 2016/17

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Unit name Ethnography
Unit code SOCI30099
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Snellgrove
Open unit status Not open

SPAI20021 Investigating the Social



School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This is an intensive fieldwork based module aimed at further developing and enhancing students’ understanding of doing, writing and reading ethnographic research. Ethnography as a principle and as a practice has been around for over one hundred years. Initially pioneered by Anthropology it is now used in a range of disciplines (Sociology, Politics, Education, Geography etc) and, some argue, has changed considerably since its inception. This unit provides an advanced understanding of the sociological knowledge claims made through ethnographic research by, firstly, providing students with a historical and conceptual background to ethnography through reviewing and reading key ethnographic texts. Secondly, it will enable students to carry out an ethnographic project resulting in the writing of a short urban ethnography. At the beginning of the course students will select a research site (guided by the unit convenor) where they will conduct regular periods of fieldwork throughout the term. Students are expected to spend several hours per week at their fieldsite, in addition to regular seminar attendance. As ethnography combines theory and method, it is through these short periods of fieldwork that students will fully grasp the complexity, challenges and opportunities that ethnography offers for documenting the social world. Summative assessment for this course will be based on fieldnotes from periods of ethnographic fieldwork carried out during the term.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Analyse a range of ethnographic texts and writings
  • Critically discuss ethnography as a research method
  • Produce sociological knowledge based on ethnographic research
  • Design, plan and carry out ethnographic research
  • Critically evaluate the contemporary ethnographic practice of themselves and others

Teaching details

3 hour seminar

Assessment Details

Analysis of the findings of the chosen fieldsite, including a description of site and topic. (3000 words) 80%

A critically reflexive account of your own conduct during your fieldwork. (1500 words) 20%

In both essays students will be expected to show clear evidence of preparatory and comparative reading. Assignments should make explicit reference to texts on ethnography discussed in class and texts collected by the student which provide essential background for the chosen site and topic.

NOTE FOR TLC/FUSC: As part of the School’s assessment scrutiny process, a range of sites suitable for ethnographic research, alongside clear guidance for students on what they are allowed to do as part of their research, will be submitted for ethics approval.

The will evaluate all of the intended learning outcomes listed above

Reading and References

Coffey, A. (1999) The Ethnographic Self: Fieldwork & the Representation of Identity London: Sage

Crang, M & Cook, C (2007) Doing Ethnographies London: Sage

Bryman, A. Ed. (2001) Ethnography Vol 1-4 London: Sage

Hume, L. & Mulcock, J. (Eds.) (2004) Anthropologists in the Field: Cases in Participant Observation New York: Columbia University Press

Ocejo, R (2013) Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork London: Routledge

Duneier M et al Eds. (2014) The Urban Ethnography Reader Oxford: Oxford University Press