Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module ANTH44115: Interrogating Ethnography

Department: Anthropology

ANTH44115: Interrogating Ethnography

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To explore the practical, epistemic and methodological aspects of ethnography as the distinctive method of socio-cultural anthropology
  • To understand the workings of ethnographic writing and ethnographic argument through detailed engagement with four book-length monographs
  • To enable students to develop the specific critical and theoretical skills required to unpack others' (and construct their own) ethnographic accounts


  • Advanced-level ethnographic methods and their relationship to theory:
  • Topics covered will vary from year to year but may include: the relationship of explanatory theories to ethnographic research: learning and interpreting evryday life; non-participant observation; film and visual anthropology; participation, power and collaborative ethnography; refexivity in ethnographic research; ethical issues in ethnographic research; and writing ethnography
  • Close reading and discussion of some (usually 3-4) full length- ethnographic texts: One of the most distinctive aspects of anthropology as a discipline is the way in which theoretical argumentsare articulated through detailed, in-depth ethnographic accounts of particular places. In an intellectual environment increasingly marked by fragmentation of arguments into article-length 'hits', the book-length ethnographic monograph may seem a strange and unwieldy format, but it makes space for a distinctive type of theoretical argument to emerge at a very different pace. Mastering the ethnographic monograph is thus key to understanding what is anthropological about anthropological theory.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have an advanced knowledge of some key ethnographic texts in recent anthropology.
  • Have an advanced knowledge of key theoretical issues and debates relating to anthropological enquiry.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the relevance of ethnography as a mode of anthropolical research
  • Ability to apply theoretical insights to ethnographic texts and contexts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to read and critically evaluate book-length ethnographic arguments.
  • Competency to conduct in-depth and theoretically informed analysis of a particular issue in relation to detailed ethnographic material.
  • Engage anthropological arguments in relation to ethnographic methodology, ethics and epistemology.
Key Skills:
  • Prepare and present scholarly work for seminars and assessment.
  • Independent and critical reading of ethnographies.
  • Ability to integrate and apply new knowledge and skills in professional practice.

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

  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • Essay

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 weekly 1.5 hours 12
Preparation and Reading 138
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on Seminar presentations 1000-word written piece to prepare for the summative essay: either an essay plan OR a mini-essay

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