Anthropology (ANTH) 402

Ethnographic Research Methods (Revision 2)

ANTH 402 Course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: Anth 275 and one 300 level sociocultural anthropology course or consent of the professor.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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This is a senior level course in anthropological research methods that reviews issues in ethnographic research. The focus is on gaining skills and practice in doing ethnographic research. The course involves learning about research methods and then applying them to a subject of each student's interest. You will gain practical experience in defining a research problem, doing background literature research, writing a research proposal, and carrying out and presenting a small independent field project. This course allows the opportunity to learn through experience, and complements Anthropology 401: Ethnography, the Writing of Culture.

Course Objectives

  1. to understand the processes of ethnographic research and research design in ethnography
  2. to understand the implications of methodological choices and their relationship to research questions and settings
  3. to gain practical experience with ethnographic field methods and the process of creating a research proposal


The course consists of the following units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction and the Nature of Ethnographic Research
  • Unit 2: Ethnography as Qualitative Research
  • Unit 3: Defining a Research Problem or Question
  • Unit 4: Research Design—Matching Methods, Locale, and Time Frame
  • Unit 5: Ethics in Human Research
  • Unit 6: Documentary Research and Literature Review
  • Unit 7: Research Techniques—Participant Observation and Interviewing
  • Unit 8: Visual Methods—Ethnographic Film, Video, and Photography in Ethnography
  • Unit 9: Organizing Data and Data Analysis
  • Unit 10: Research Proposals and Project Design


To receive credit for ANTH 402, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on each of the assignments. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 20%
Assignment 2 5%
Assignment 3 5%
Assignment 4 15%
Assignment 5 25%
Assignment 6 30%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Watson, C. W., ed., 1999. Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology. London, Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.

Ellen, R. F., ed., 1987. Ethnographic Research: A Guide to General Conduct. London: Academic Press.

Marshall, C. and Rossman, G. B., 2011. Designing Qualitative Research, 5th ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.


American Anthropological Association (AAA). 1998. Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association.

Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA). 1999. Ethical Guidelines for Good Research Practice.

Cassell, Joan and Sue-Ellen Jacobs, eds., 1987. Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology.

Online Material

The course materials includes a reading file. All other materials are available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, January 6, 2012.

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