Ethnographic Methods


One day, Foundation level. London. Price for SRA members: £195

Click here for more information

What is participant observation? How is it actually done? How is it combined in mixed-methods research to produce valid findings? How can we ensure its quality? Is there an advantage to doing limited participant observation with other methods in a short-term study?

Participant observation is a key tool in the social researcher’s toolkit. Traditionally associated with ethnography, participant observation has often involved long-term and intense immersion in the field of study, requiring considerable commitment from the researcher. This course will address the practicalities of doing participant observation in diverse settings, using a range of published examples as well as practical activities. We will especially consider shorter-term participant observation and mixed methods. The course will introduce participants to the principles and practicalities of participant observation and then introduce ways in it can enhance qualitative research. It is a practical course, designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to immerse themselves in a setting, to listen, to ask questions; and to supplement observation with the analysis of other data.

Topics covered

  • ● The foundations and principles of ethnography
  • ● Gaining access
  • ● Participating and observing
  • ● Making fieldnotes
  • ● Being an ‘insider’
  • ● Avoiding over attachment
  • ● Participant-observer roles
  • ● Using other methods
  • ● Rapport and trust
  • ● Reflexivity
  • ● Issues of representativeness, reliability and validity

Course objectives

By the end of the course participants should:

  • ● understand the contribution that close, theory-oriented observations, participation, observation, and conversation can make to qualitative data collection;
  • ● be equipped to record the data produced through diverse methods;
  • ● take a critical and creative approach to ethnographic methods and understand how they can be combined with other methods of data collection for a range of social, political and policy research areas;
  • ● be in a position to defend the validity and reliability of ethnographic interpretations.

Who will benefit?

The course is introductory but will rapidly take participants to the level of being able to put their knowledge and skills to practice. Some prior familiarity with qualitative methods would be beneficial but not essential.

Course Tutor

Karen O'Reilly is Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University. She has taught ethnographic and qualitative methods for many years, including the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Collection and Analysis, and the Swiss Summer School in Social Science Methods, in Lugano. She is a highly experienced ethnographer and author of two widely cited books on the subject: Ethnographic Methods (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2012) and Key Concepts in Ethnography (Sage, 2009).

mrs cpd logo This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme

Price for SRA members: £195.  Use the discount code emailed to you.

If you are unsure of your code, or haven't received one, please contact us.

Registration on the day is from 9.00 - 9.30 am


Cancellation policy: Full refund if cancelled 21 days or more from the course date.  No refund if cancelled 20 days or fewer from the course date.

Registrations for this course will not be accepted after 3 July 2017 at noon.

Price: £260.00

Start Time: 9:30 am
End Time: 4:30 pm

Date: July 4, 2017

Registration Details

Personal Information

Your name, organisation and job title will be put 'as is' on name badges and delegate lists (where used), so please check spelling, Capitals, etc

Join our mailing list?

If you're not an SRA member, may we send you occasional emails about courses and events? You can unsubscribe at any time.

This course is paperless

NO course materials will be handed out at this course. We will email you a link and you'll need to download course materials, and bring them with you on a laptop/tablet (or print copies)

How are you paying?

Purchase Order, address for invoice

Skip this section ONLY If you are paying online. Otherwise please enter the Purchase Order no. (required), name, and address to go on the invoice. OUR SYSTEM IS SELF-SERVICE SO YOU *MUST* DOWNLOAD THE INVOICE AT THE END OF THE BOOKING PROCESS: click 'Paying with an invoice' and 'Download PDF invoice.'

Discount code (Members, enter your code here)

If you have a 'Promo Code' please enter it below to ensure a discounted place. (If you can't remember the code, please contact the SRA office.)

Anti-Spam Measure: Please enter the following phrase