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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Anthropology

ANTH43415: Fieldwork and Interpretation

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To give students a comprehensive view of qualitative field methods used by social sciences, including the collection, management and interpretation of qualitative data.


  • Relation of explanatory theories to methods of research.
  • Ethnography and participant observation.
  • Interviewing, such as semi-structured and ethnographic interviews, life history interviews.
  • Focus groups and participatory research methods, such as audio-visual methods.
  • Power relations and reflexivity in qualitative research.
  • Management and analysis of qualitative data.
  • Ethical issues in qualitative research.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A comprehensive overview of qualitative field methods used by social scientists.
  • A thorough understanding of the ways in which social scientists interpret ethnographic and other qualitative data.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to use effectively a range of qualitative social research techniques, including ethnography and participant observation, individual and group-based interviews, and participatory research methods.
  • To be able to analyse and interpret qualitative data.
  • To understand the relationships between method and theory.
  • To appreciate some of the ethical issues inherent in qualitative social research
Key Skills:
  • Critical engagement with literature.
  • Written communication skills: producing a clear and well-argued research report.
  • Reflexivity: reflecting on own research practice.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures: to introduce each topic, present key literature and frame theoretical considerations.
  • Seminars: accompanying discussion/reflections.
  • Practical exercises: to give students hands-on experience of using each method with their peers.
  • Assessment via a reflexive portfolio of practical write-ups, incorporating theoretical as well as practical reflections.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 7 1 hour 7
Seminars 7 1 hour 7
Practical exercises 5 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 131
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio: reflexive write-ups of practical classes. 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Portfolio assessment: reflexive write-up of one practical assignment (c. 500 words) with individual written feedback.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University