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Research Design for Visual Ethnography


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.


Audiovisual means can add an important dimension to ethnographic research, and add new dimensions to observation and interviewing. As significantly, such records can play a role in the analysis that anthropologists produce based on their fieldwork. Texts written can be supported by edited video, or anthropologists can tell convey their analysis through an ethnographic video film that is seen more or less independent from text. This course prepares students for the use of audiovisual means during their fieldwork. How can making audiovisual recordings help you to answer your research question? How does making audiovisual recordings change the circumstances of fieldwork? How can audiovisual recordings made as a part of ethnographic research contribute to the communication of research findings? This course combines theory with practice, and places great emphasis on hands on training, to develop skills regarding the recording of images and sound.

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

Course Objectives

  1. Helping the MSc student to systematically formulate the questions that are central to their research, positioned in relation to relevant academic debates.
  2. Providing practical preparations for the complexities of fieldwork, given the operationalization of research questions.
  3. Critically exploring the possibilities offered by audiovisual means, both in relation to conducting anthropological fieldwork, and to tell a story using audiovisual means based on such fieldwork.


Please see the schedule

Location: Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden

Mode of instruction

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

  • Tutorials:

  • workshops of two hours

  • assignments

Assesment method



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


Blackboard will be used to make information and assignments available. Blackboard module for this course will be available for registration by the end of August.

Reading list

Robben, Antonius C.G.M., and Jeffrey A. Sluka, eds. (2012) Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader. Malden (MA): Blackwell.
A selection will be read, chapters will be specified for each meeting. The book will be available at bookshop “Atleest”, Kort Rapenburg 12a, Leiden. This book is also used for the course Large Issues, Small Places and copies of this book will be available for purchase at the university through student association Itiwana.

Additionally, a selection of relevant journal articles, which can downloaded through the university library or via Blackboard.

Contact information

Dr. Mark Westmoreland Drs. Metje Postma