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Unit information: Research Methods in Anthropology in 2020/21

Unit name Research Methods in Anthropology
Unit code ARCHM0080
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lawson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit is designed to introduce anthropological research design and data analysis using qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Sessions on anthropological methods will include ethnographic, reflexive and visual methods, as well as survey, interview and focus-group design. Sessions on data and analyses, will include qualitative techniques, statistical analyses and hypothesis testing. Sessions on research ethical and governance procedures, will consider the rights of research participants, as well as issues of confidentiality and legality. By the end of this unit students will be able to design their own anthropological research project, critically evaluate the research practice, data and interpretation of others, and conduct their own analyses.


  • To show students how to translate focused research questions into manageable and ethical research projects.
  • To familiarise students with the broad ranges of research techniques available to social scientists (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed), and their applicability to different research questions.
  • To provide practical training in data gathering, handling, and analysis in qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.
  • To encourage an enquiring and critical approach to data analysis and interpretation.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. Awareness of the principles of research design in anthropology using a variety of methodological approaches.
  2. Capacity to develop a manageable research project while adhering to institutional and anthropological standards of ethics.
  3. Awareness of the range of methods (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed) available to social scientists and the strengths and limits of each approach.
  4. Ability to apply the principles of probability and significance testing in gathering, analysis, and critical interpretation of quantitative data.
  5. Ability to use ethnographic/reflexive or other related techniques to gather, analyse and critically interpret qualitative data.

Teaching details

Weekly lectures and practicals, supported by self-direct activities.

Assessment Details

  1. Research Design (maximum 2500 words, 50% of total assessment). Students will be asked to design a project which will incorporate identifying a research question, aims and objectives, methodology (including ethical issues raised), and rationale for chosen methodology. ILOs 1-3
  2. A piece of secondary data analysis and interpretation (equivalent to 2500 word essay, 50% of total assessment). ILOs 3-5

Reading and References

Babbie, E. (2010) The practice of social research. Wadsworth, Belmont CA

Banks, M., & Morphy, H. (1999) Rethinking Visual Anthropology, Yale University Press, New Haven

Bernard, H.R., 2011. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Alta Mira, Plymouth.

Braun, V. & Clarke, V (2013) Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. Sage, London

Foster, L., Diamond, I., and Jefferies, J (2014) Beginning statistics: an introduction for social scientists, 2nd Edition. Sage, London.

Kuznar, L.A., (1997) Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology. Sage, London.

Mason, J. (2017) Qualitative Researching, 3rd Edition. Sage, London.