Ethnography through Mixed Media

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrea Pia OLD 6.09 and Dr Megan Laws OLD 1.13


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

Course content

This course provides training in the reading and interpretation of multimodal anthropology (with a focus on text, photography, film, sound, and games). It introduces students to detailed, holistic study of social and cultural practices within specific geographic and historical contexts and develops skills in bringing together the various elements of cultural and social life analysed by anthropologists. By the end of each term, successful students will have both a detailed knowledge of three important texts and media and have a rounded view of the three settings studied.

They will also have developed the capacity to think critically about ethnographic writing and filmmaking, and about anthropological engagements with other media such as games, photography, and sound. In addition, the course aims to enable students to examine in detail the process by which ethnographic media are produced through the close analysis of three book-length ethnographic accounts (or the equivalent) in the MT and by providing students with practical training in the production of photo, audio, and video materials in the LT. Students will study a film (or other visual or auditory material) associated with each text or topic each term.

In the MT, students will be required to read the three full set monographs, approximately a third of each monograph (two-four chapters) each week. In the LT, students will be required to read two to three academic chapters or articles each week (with more time given to practical work). It will be essential to do this in order to pass this course. The emphasis in classes and seminars will be on developing students' abilities to read and analyse texts, and to compare and contrast them to other material offered on the course. Supplementary readings or viewings may be provided during the term.

In the MT, students will be provided with basic training in coming up with a research project, taking photographs, recording audio, and shooting video. In the LT, students will be provided with basic training in ethics and risk and in post-production in photography, sound, and film. Over the course of the two terms, students will then be required to work in groups to develop their own media projects. This will be facilitated by a series of basic tasks to take photographs, record audio, shoot video, and work together to edit these into multimedia pieces.


In the MT, there are 17 hours of lectures (of which 9 hours are multimedia sessions), 4.5 hours of seminars, 7 hours of classes, and 3 hours of practical training sessions.

In the LT, there 9 hours of lectures (of which 6 hours are multimedia sessions), 3 hours of seminars, 8 hours of classes, and 6 hours of practical training sessions.

The contact hours listed above are the minimum expected. This course has a reading week in Week 6 of both MT and LT.

The practical training sessions will be run in collaboration with Darren Moon, Senior Learning Technologist of the Eden Centre for Education Enhancement at the LSE.

Formative coursework

Students will have the opportunity to submit up to four position pieces (two position pieces in the MT and two position pieces in the LT). Only the three position pieces with the highest marks will count towards the student’s final grade for the course. Students are not required to submit all four position pieces but are encouraged to do so to allow one position pieces to count as formative coursework.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists (including this year's set texts) will be provided at the beginning of the course.

For a general introduction to issues covered in the course, see the following:

  • Engelke, M., ed. 2009. The Objects of Evidence: Anthropological Approaches to the Production of Knowledge. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Cox, R., Irving, A., and Christopher Wright. 2016. Beyond text? Critical practices and sensory anthropology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • MacDougall, D. 2006. The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. Princeton University Press.
  • Grimshaw, A., and A. Ravetz. 2009. Observational Cinema: Anthropology, Film, and the Exploration of Social Life. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • MacDonald, S. 2013. American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Marcus, G. E., and M. M. J. Fischer. 1986. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wolf, M. 1992. A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Ethnographic Responsibility. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Coursework (100%, 4500 words) in the MT and LT.

All students will produce a portfolio of position pieces (worth 100% of the total mark), submitting a total of two position pieces in the MT and two position pieces in the LT. Position pieces should refer to the media (including text) covered on the course and relate these to the cycles covered in the lectures and classes. In the LT, students should also refer to their own photo, audio, or video productions in their position pieces. Portfolios will be assessed periodically throughout the year, with the final grade determined after the end of Lent Term. 

Students who submit fewer than three position pieces will receive a mark of zero for each missed assessment. The overall mark will be the average of the three position pieces with the highest grades, including any zeroes for missed assessments.

Students who submit at least one position piece and fail the course will be expected to add to their portfolio at resit in order to achieve a pass.

Students who do not submit any position pieces (0 out of 4), will be awarded a Zero Absent for the whole course and cannot be awarded the degree until they submit sufficient work at resit to complete the course.


Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2021/22: 55

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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