AN298      Half Unit
Research Methods in Social Anthropology

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Rita Astuti 6.11


This course is compulsory on the BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The twofold aim of this course is to provide students with deeper insight of the process by which anthropological knowledge is produced, and to develop their skills with regard to the collection, analysis and representation of ethnographic data. We will review the main tools of anthropological research, and discuss the ways in which empirical data are being incorporated in ethnographic texts. The research techniques that will be reviewed include 'participant observation', various approaches to asking questions and interviewing, and research with documents and in archives. Students will carry out a small research project in London in which they address a specific research question from different angles, employing the various techniques learned during this course. They will report on their research activities and write a 4,500 to 5000 word ethnographic essay on the basis of their research findings.


1 hour of lectures in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

A short description of the student’s proposed research project will be discussed in the seminars in week 1 in a student-led workshop. Students will then produce a 1000-word report due between weeks 5 and 7, describing the progress made on the research, including a sample ethnographic description and an explanation of the methods used to date. Students will receive extensive feedback on the report within two weeks of submission.

Indicative reading

Cerwonka, A. and Malkki, L. Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork (2007); Hammersley, A. Atkinson, P. Ethnography: Principles in Practice (2007); Narayan, K. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov (2012); Silverman, D. Interpreting Qualitative Data (2006); Spradley, J. Participant Observation (1980)


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2016/17: 46

Average class size 2016/17: 23

Capped 2016/17: Yes (60)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills