Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ANTH44115: Interrogating Ethnography

Department: Anthropology

ANTH44115: Interrogating Ethnography

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • 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 book-length monographs
  • To enable students to develop the specific critical and theoretical skills required to unpack others' (and construct their own) ethnographic accounts


  • 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 everyday life; non-participant observation; film and visual anthropology; participation, power and collaborative ethnography; reflexivity in ethnographic research; ethical issues in ethnographic research; and writing ethnography
  • Close reading and discussion of full-length ethnographic texts: One of the most distinctive aspects of anthropology as a discipline is the way in which theoretical arguments are articulated through detailed, in-depth ethnographic accounts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced knowledge of some key ethnographic texts in recent anthropology.
  • Advanced knowledge of key theoretical issues and debates relating to anthropological enquiry.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the relevance of ethnography as a mode of anthropological 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

  • Each fortnight (across one term) students will engage with a full-length ethnographic monograph through (a) in the first week, a one-hour seminar introducing the text and discussing key themes; followed by (b) in the second week, a two-hour workshop with student-led discussion of particular aspects of the text in greater depth.
  • Assessment will be a 3000-word essay critically reflecting on one or more full-length ethnographic texts, with a shorter formative piece to help prepare for this.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 5 Fortnightly across one term 1 hour 5
Workshops 5 Fortnightly across one term 2 hours 10
Preparation and Reading 135
Total 150

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

750-word written piece outlining the basic argument of the summative essay, with an indicative bibliography (with written individual 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