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Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork


Admission requirements

Students cannot start their field research unless the following conditions have been met:

  • Formal admission to and enrollment in the MSc Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

  • Submission of the approved final research proposal

  • Submission of the approved budget

  • Submission of the completed declaration of liability

  • (if relevant) Proof of language proficiency (declaration by the supervisor)


The Institute for CA/DS has a limited number of high-end video camera’s available, and students will normally be required to share the use of a recording set throughout their fieldwork period. Students are expected to work in pairs, and help each other out with the recording of sound and so on. The time of the video recordings made during MA fieldwork should not exceed 15 hours.

A list of research projects available to students is available on our website and is being pemanently updated, although students can also follow their own ideas in choosing a topic.

The students can opt for one of the two kinds of field research:

1) Fieldschools
Three different field schools are organized and directed by the Institute for CA-DS: the Netherlands., Ghana or South East Asia. Although the fieldwork practicalities are organized collectively, each student carries out their own individual research within these three general areas. Departmental staff oversee the preparation for fieldwork as well as the fieldwork itself, by visiting the student in situ. The Institute also arranges contact with the appropriate local authorities, arranges research permission and affiliation, and, in most cases, the accommodation of students in the research area. Subsequently, institute’s staff supervise the processing and reporting on field data.

2) Individual fieldwork
If approved by the institute, the individual field research may be conducted anywhere in the world provided that the location is safe and not afflicted by armed conflict.
This type of fieldwork is arranged by students themselves. It is expected that the student will independently establish the necessary contacts with local authorities, acquire research permission and affiliation as well as accommodation in the country of research. Supervision during this preparatory period if provided by the thesis advisor in Leiden. It is expected that the student will be locally affiliated with an institute or a person willing to take (partial) responsibility for the fieldwork conducted, because the Leiden supervisor will not visit the student in the field. Nevertheless, the students remains under the supervision of his/her Leiden based supervisor the entire time. Supervision of the processing and reporting on field data is the responsibility of the staff in Leiden.

Students are expected to regularly report to their advisor in the course of the MA fieldwork.

Financial matters

MA field research can be a costly endeavour for the student, as it will usually involve travel and the costs of additional accommodation. These expenses are not covered by the tuition fee for the MA programme.

To ease the financial strain various funds can be applied for:

  • Within some of the specific research projects funds are made available by our external partners.

  • The Leiden University scholarship web-page. Most often the students of CA-DS acquire grants from the LUF and the LUSTRA but can also be sucessful in acquiring financial aid from smaller, private funds and trusts. Since much of the information about funds is available in Dutch language, foreign students might need assistance from their Dutch fellow-students when looking for relevant information, or address the resources from their country of origin.

  • Sub-letting your room in Leiden can also be a good source of income.

  • Also check the university's website for other practical matters regarding your travel abroad.


In the last month of VE-fieldwork students start editing their film material. In this period they focus on the analysis of audiovisual data after fieldwork, and its use, in one form or the other, for the kind of analyses that anthropologists want to convey. Ethnographic fieldwork results in a great variety of data: written notes, photographs, audio recordings and video recordings. What are strategies to analyze these various sources? How can the audiovisual data that has been collected be used, to contribute to the communication of research findings? What ‘formats’ is the material suited for, and given those limitations and possibilities, what choices do you make? If one is editing a video film, how can that film relate to the paper that you are writing as a part of your final project? How do readings of clips or edited films intended by you as a researcher relate to readings by the people researched, and to readings by the (other) intended and unintended audiences that may get to know the output of your ethnographic research? This course combines theory with hands on practice. During the tutorials students primarily work with the audiovisual data that they have collected during their MA fieldwork.


Fieldwork: January & February 2018.
Editing: March 2018


Throughout your research, you will write three Fieldwork/Internship reports.

  • Report 1: Operationalization in the field, to be submitted to your supervisor after 3 weeks in the field)

  • Report 2: Reflection on the fieldwork experience, to be submitted to your supervisor after 6 weeks in the field

  • Report 3 (final): Preliminary Analysis/Interpretation of the data.

The fieldwork is rated “pass” based on performance in the research setting.


VE-coordinator Dr. Mark Westmoreland
Fieldwork coördinator Dr. Erik de Maaker