Module SXU-3004:

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Roger Slack

Overall aims and purpose

Ethnography is a well established ‘way of seeing’ in the social sciences. This module allows students to critically engage with ethnography as a mode of social research. We will look at ethnographic studies in a number of areas including: crime and punishment, health and illness, and everyday life. Additionally, the course offers the opportunity to engage with the philosophical commitments of ethnography, ethnography as a way of (re)presenting the world, and alternatives to textual presentations of the social world (film, video, audio, still photography and digital media).

Course content


British Social Anthropology: (re)presenting the other; The Chicago School: landmark studies and their contemporary relevance; Symbolic Interactionism: perspective, method, and studies; Ethnomethodologically informed ethnography: doing everyday life; Feminist Ethnography: standpoints on knowledge; Virtual ethnography: life online.

A wide variety of source materials will be used. Materials and the opportunity to discuss them will be made available on Blackboard wherever possible.

Assessment Criteria


The presentation of a report of an ethnographic study in which the students show an ability to analyse data at a descriptive level and report such findings appropriately.


The presentation of a report of an ethnographic study in which the students show an ability to analyse data at a descriptive and an analytical level and report such findings appropriately.


The presentation of a report of an ethnographic study in which the students show an ability to analyse data at a descriptive and an analytical level and report such findings in a way that would be acceptable for presentation in the proceedings of a refereed academic conference

Learning outcomes

  1. A detailed knowledge of the scope, history and development of ethnography.

  2. A detailed understanding of the conduct of ethnographic research, reading and writing ethnographics and the politics and commitments of ethnographic research.

  3. A critical appreciation of the value of ethnography as a means of (re)presenting the social world.

  4. An understanding of alternative modes of (re)presentation - especially visual ethnography, novel literary forms, audio and video in ethnographic research (including ethnographic film), and philosophical issues aroung the 'ownership' of knowledge (alterity, gender and so on).

  5. A critical appreciation of the relationship of ethnographic research to other research methods and the ethical implications of ethnographic research.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
3,500 Word Essay s1 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Students will be required to read a range of materials on ethnography.


Students will have access to a range of resources, including texts, monographs and journals, both paper and electronic; and computing resources to access the Blackboard VLE.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life
  • the ability to undertake and present scholarly work

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: