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Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork


Admission requirements

Only students who are admitted to the master’s programme Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, specialisation Visual etnography can take part in this course.

Before starting the Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork, the following conditions have to be met:

  1. Proficiency of of language has to be approved by the supervisor
  2. The Research Proposal has to be completed and graded sufficient by the supervisor.
  3. A Letter of Liability (‘vrijwaringsverklaring’) has to be sent to the coordinator of studies.
  4. A Pre-departure form has to be sent to the coordinator of studies.


The Institute Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology has a limited number of high-end video camera’s available. Students are required to share the use of a recording set throughout their fieldwork period. Students are expected to work in pairs, and help each other with camera, recording of sound, directing etc. The total time of the video recordings made during Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork should not exceed 15 hours.

A list research topics is available on our website, tab Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (MSc), Global Ethnography research opportunities.

Students can opt for one of the two kinds of Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork :

1) Field Research & Training (FR&T) Three different locations for Field Research & Training are organised and directed by the Institute of CA-DS: In the Netherlands, in Ghana, and in The Philippines. The FR&T practicalities are organised collectively, however each student carries out his/her own individual research. Departmental staff supervises the preparation for the FR&T as well as the FR&T itself, by visiting the students at location. The Institute of CA-DS also arranges contacts with the local authorities, research permission and affiliation, and, in most cases, the accommodation of students in the research area. Subsequently, institute’s staff supervises the processing and reporting on field data.

2) Individual fieldwork
Individual Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork may be conducted anywhere in the world provided that the location is safe and not afflicted by an armed conflict and if approved by the Institute of CA-DS. Individual 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 is provided by the supervisor in Leiden. It is expected that the student at location is affiliated with an institute or a person willing to take (partial) responsibility for the fieldwork conducted, because the supervisor in Leiden will not visit the student in the field. Therefore, during fieldwork, the student is expected to regularly report to the supervisor, because the student remains under the supervision of his/her supervisor in Leiden during the entire period of fieldwork, and during processing the data and writing the Master Thesis.

Financial and practical matters

Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork 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 master's programme.

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

  • Funds, made available by our external partners within some research projects.

  • Scholarships & grants offered by Leiden University.

  • Funds from the home country (in case of international students).

Also check the university's website for other practical matters regarding studying abroad and the website of the institute of CA-DS


In the last month of the Visual Ethnographic 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 analyse these various sources? How can the audiovisual data that have been collected be used, to contribute to the communication of research findings? What ‘format’ is the material suited for, and given those limitations and possibilities, what choices can be made? If one is editing a video film, how can that film relate to the paper that is written as part of the final project? How do readings of clips or edited films intended by the student 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 the 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 Visual Ethnographic Fieldwork .


Fieldwork: January - February.
Editing: March


Throughout the fieldwork three reports have to be written:
Report 1: Operationalisation in the field, to be submitted to the supervisor after 3 weeks after start of the fieldwork.
Report 2: Reflection on the fieldwork experience, to be submitted to the supervisor after 6 weeks after start of the fieldwork.
Report 3 (final): Preliminary Analysis/Interpretation of the data.

The fieldwork is rated a “V” (pass) or "ONV" (fail) based on performance in the research setting.


Coordinator of the specialisation Visual Ethnography Dr. Mark Westmoreland
MSc coordinator Dr. Erik de Maaker