Studying online

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Unit Overview


Ethnographic data and interpretations of it form the core of anthropology, and are increasingly important in criminology, and other qualitative social sciences. This unit considers how this data is produced. In a workshop setting, students read and analyse productions of the ethnographic imagination. By immersing themselves in the first-hand experiences of anthropologists, criminologists and social scientists and their fieldwork settings, students familiarise themselves with the process of 'doing' ethnography. The unit may address the following issues: (1) the connection of explanatory theories to methods of research; (2) methods of studying and interpreting everyday life—participant observation (everyday life as field research), questioning, recording, note-taking; (3) eliciting and interpreting accounts of social life—semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, genealogies, family histories, participatory social research; (4) observing and interpreting categories and symbols; (5) using information technology resources to source methods and explanations; (6) engaging with innovative and interdisciplinary research methodologies and issues; and (7) how to use ethnography to engage in inter-cultural analysis. The unit is focused upon jobs-ready skills. By the end, students will have developed the knowledge and experience necessary to immediately begin using ethnography, whether in the heritage sector, or in criminal justice, or in social policy and analysis. This unit is associated with UWA's new ‘Ethnography Lab'. The unit benefits enormously from its association with this world-class, and cutting-edge, research facility.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Anthropology major sequence
  • Level 3 option in the Criminology and Criminal Justice major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in the history of ethnography in anthropology, criminology, and other social sciences; (2) develop a critical awareness of the politics and poetics of doing ethnography in different social and cultural contexts; understand the practical and ethical implications of ethnographic research; (3) develop the skills necessary to use ethnographic methods in professional settings, from heritage, to criminal justice, to community or international development; and (4) understand and evaluate the possibilities of multi-modal ethnography for future inter-cultural knowledge production.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) ethnographic essay; (2) fieldnotes assignment; and (3) ethnographic project. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Richard Vokes
Unit rules
Successful completion of
level 2 24 points Unit(s)
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per teaching week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.