MY426      Half Unit
Doing Ethnography

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Chana Teeger COL7.06


This course is available on the MSc in Applied Social Data Science, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research), MSc in Marketing, MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics) and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is not controlled access. If you register for a place and meet the prerequisites, if any, you are likely to be given a place.


There are no prerequisites but some prior training in qualitative research methods is expected. Please contact the course convenor if unsure.

Course content

Doing ethnography enables us to examine how social order is produced as people go about their everyday interactions. Multiple sources of naturally-occurring data are used to understand how communities, organisations and institutions work, informally as well as formally. This interdisciplinary course equips students with a practical understanding of how to do, and to think about, contemporary ethnography. Core conceptual, ethical and methodological debates are introduced through in-depth engagement with exemplar texts, and through students' experience of fieldwork. Fieldwork is a key component of the course, with students collecting data locally. Methodological concerns regarding case selection, establishing rigour, reflexivity, representing others, and ethical issues are addressed in detail. Practical issues addressed include identifying and accessing study sites, writing field notes, and analysing and writing up ethnographic data. Emphasising that ethnography relies on the researcher-as-research-instrument, the course aims to develop students' sensitivity and rigour as ethnographic researchers.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Winter Term.

This course has a Reading Week in Week 6 of WT.

Formative coursework

An excerpt of field-notes from the field visit undertaken as part of the course (up to 2,500 words) in WT. Field-notes should record rich details of observations (the data), researcher reflections, and brief interpretations of the significance of these observations. Written feedback will be provided.

Indicative reading

DeWalt, K. M.,; DeWalt, B. R. (2002). Participant observation: A guide for fieldworkers. AltaMira Press. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., ; Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. University of Chicago Press. Hammersley, M ; Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice. Taylor ; Francis. Wacquant, L. (2004) Body and Soul: Ethnographic Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer. New York: Oxford University Press. Laureau, Annette. (2011). Unreal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2nd Edition). Berkeley: University of California Press


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Methodology

Total students 2022/23: 16

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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