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Unit information: Anthropological Methods in 2015/16

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Unit name Anthropological Methods
Unit code ARCH20048
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Mwenza Blell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to acquaint students with a range of anthropological methodologies and techniques, especially those that underlie the specific topics of units encountered in their programme. Students will have an opportunity to experience first-hand how knowledge is produced and anthropological data is collected, through fieldwork, observation and measurement, interviews and questionnaires, and archival/library research. Data collection, synthesis, and analysis will all be covered, using a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches.


  • To explore the varieties of possible approaches to anthropological research, including a comprehensive understanding of the ethical issues involved.

  • To equip students with skills for the collection and analysis of a range of anthropological data.

  • To give students practical experience in conducting anthropological fieldwork.

  • To give students experience in preparing and managing a research project.
  • To give students experience in discussing, writing-up and presenting their results.

  • To give students experience in working as part of a team.

Intended learning outcomes

  • 1. Identify and discuss the specific research methods associated with anthropology as a profession.

  • 2. Demonstrate knowledge of and report practical experience of methods such as recording techniques, interviewing, qualitative and quantitative data sets (primary and secondary), thematic/discourse analysis, statistical analysis, and forms of presentation.
  • 3. Recognise the appropriate anthropological methods used to answer different sorts of research questions.

  • 4. Recognise and discuss the ways in which anthropology is inherently multi-disciplinary.

  • 5. Describe and appraise the process of conducting research, including the ethical implications of being a researcher with human subjects.

  • 6. Conceive of a research question and plan a tractable project that answers the question.

  • 7. Carry out a small research project as part of a team, in planning, executing and presenting their research.

Teaching details

  • 8 x 2-hour lectures

  • 8 x 1-hour drop-in tutorials and practical sessions
  • 2 x 3-hour presentation sessions

Assessment Details

  • 1. Research notebook containing (a) a field-work diary and (b) 8 x weekly 200-word summaries of each new skill set (40%, 3000 words, summative). Assesses ILOs 1-4

Formative feedback will be given on one week’s entry (diary + summary) before Week 4.

  • 2. Group presentation of research project (20%, 15 minutes, summative). Assesses ILOs 5-7

Formative feedback will be given on informal presentations at drop-in tutorials.

  • 3. Final individual report on research project (40%, 2500 words, summative). Assesses ILOs 5-7

Reading and References

  • Bernard, H.R. (2006) Research Methods in Anthropology. AltaMira.
  • Cryer, P. (2006) The research student’s guide to success, 3rd edn, OpenUniv. Press.

  • Coleman, S. and Collins, P. (eds) 2006 Locating the Field: space, place and context in anthropology, Oxford; Berg.

  • Okely, J. (2012). Anthropological Practice: fieldwork and the ethnographic method.

  • Peterson RA (2000) Constructing effective questionnaires. London: Sage.
  • Watson, C. (ed.) 1999 Being there: fieldwork in anthropology, London: Pluto Press.