nl en

Research Design for Global Ethnography


Admission requirements

Only students admitted to the master’s programme Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology specialisation Global Ethnography can take part in this course.

Course Description

This course aims to prepare students for the practical and epistemological complexities of conducting ethnographic research. The course centres on three-hour tutorials. In these tutorials issues related to epistemology, ethics and fieldwork practice will be discussed by means of ethnographic exercises in which students link literature and in-class discussions to their individual fieldwork topics. Emphasis will be given to formulating the main research questions, operationalization, methodology, ethics, and the organization of each student’s fieldwork. Consideration will also be given to fieldwork identities, health care, and academic adaptability needed to write a good research proposal that meets both academic and societal agendas. The course is intended to make students aware of the epistemological dimension of fieldwork practice, in framing students’ personal research interests, skills, and possibilities, and to help them prepare discussions on these issues with their individual thesis supervisor. The course is intended to guide students in the writing of their Research proposal (in which they are coached primarily by their individual supervisor).

A list of research topics is available on our website, tab Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (MSc) and is being pemanently updated.

The course Research Design encompasses a mandatory ‘Methodology in Practice’ (MiP) week, which is intended to provide students with hands-on training in ethnological method. See details below, under Timetable.

Course Objectives

  1. Helping students to systematically formulate the questions that are central to their MSc research, positioned in relation to relevant academic debates.
  2. Providing preparation for the practical complexities of fieldwork, given the operationalization of research questions.
  3. Critically exploring the possibilities for conducting anthropological fieldwork through rapport with research interlocutors in times when both face-to-face communication and online communication via a variety of media have become common means for producing empirically-based research data.


Please see the schedule

Methology in Practice

The course Research Design encompasses a mandatory ‘Methodology in Practice’ (MiP) week, which is intended to provide students with hands-on training in the ethnographic method. The MiP week will take place in October, and lasts four full days (including evenings) from Monday morning until Thursday evening, with two additional sessions on Friday at daytime. Typically, mornings will be used for short lectures in methodology and ethics, while afternoons will be dedicated to individual methodological exercises, which are then evaluated in the evenings. Further details will be announced in early September.

Mode of instruction

Total: 5 ECTS = 140 study hours (sbu):

o Tutorials
o Hands-on workshops
o Student screening/feedback sessions
o Written assignments
o Peer review

Assessment method

Examination of the course will be through weekly written assignments that connect the literature to the individual’s research plans, thus giving ample space for reflection on possibilities and impossibilities, on expectations and worries, and on “do’s and don’ts”. Each week’s assignments will be discussed in tutorials. All assignments will be graded, the grades counting proportionally towards the final grade for the course (80% of the final grade). Participation in class counts for 20% of the final grade. Failure to submit an assignment on time automatically implies ‘failure’ for that assignment. Two failures to submit an assignment on time will result in exclusion from the course. Only submitted and completed assignments can be re-submitted if necessary, up to a maximum of two assignments for the entire course (blank papers are not accepted). Assignments should submitted as Word documents if possible. Presence for all classes is mandatory, and from the start of the course. Students who are not present at the first lecture will not be allowed to participate.


Students are required to register for this course in uSis. (Registration for the exam in uSis is not required since there is no classical examination.)


Brightspace is the digital learning environment of Leiden University. The Brightspace module for this course will be available for registration by the end of August. Brightspace gives access to course announcements and electronic study material. Assignments will also be submitted in Brightspace. Brightspace informs about announcements and changes in a course. It is advised to check Brightspace on a daily base to remain informed about rooms, schedules, deadlines, and details regarding assignments. Lecturers assume that all students read information posted on Brightspace.

  • How to login

The homepage for Brightspace is:

Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

To get access to your courses in Brightspace you need to be registered in uSis for these courses.

Reading list

Robben, A.C.G.M., and J.A. Sluka (eds.)

2012 Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader. Malden MA, Blackwell.

An additional selection of relevant journal articles. These will be available for downloading through the university library or via Brightspace (to be announced).

Contact information

Dr. Ratna Saptari