Lugano, Switzerland

Ethnographic Methods

when 21 August 2023 - 25 August 2023
language English
duration 1 week
fee CHF 700

Ethnographic methods are increasingly being used in diverse and creative ways in both long-term and short-term studies across the social sciences. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the technical, practical and philosophical issues that arise when employing both traditional and innovative approaches. Ethnographers immerse themselves in a setting for a period of time, listen, ask questions; and supplement observation with the analysis of interview data, documents, and visual, digital, and creative data. Ethnographic methods have proven to provide valid, valuable and rich contextual data with which to understand complex social issues and address policy concerns. The course addresses both practical and theoretical issues through: the history of ethnography and contemporary applications; plan and design of a project; accessing the field; writing fieldnotes; making sense of observational data and telling credible stories; multi-sited, virtual, visual and sensory ethnography; short-term and applied ethnography; reflexivity and the emotions in fieldwork.

The course is practical, encouraging participants to relate topics to their own research interests and to carry out and begin to analyse micro-observational studies.

Course leader

Karen O'Reilly is Freelance Researcher and Training Provider, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University, and Co-Investigator on the project at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Target group

graduate students, doctoral researchers, early career researchers, experienced researchers


The course is introductory but intensive, rapidly taking participants from a beginner to an advanced level. Some prior familiarity with qualitative methods and background knowledge of the philosophy of social science is required. Participants should be aware that the practical decisions to be made when conducting ethnographic research are necessarily theoretically informed and will vary with each practitioner's orientation. The course aims to equip participants with the knowledge required to make those decisions for themselves in practice.

Course aim

By the end of the course, participants should:

1. Be able to make close, theory-oriented observations through participation, observation, and conversation.
2. Be equipped to record and analyse 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.
3. Be in a position to present, and defend the quality and value, of ethnographic interpretations.

Credits info

The Summer School cannot grant credits. We only deliver a Certificate of Participation, i.e. we certify your attendance.

If you consider using Summer School workshops to obtain credits (ECTS), you will have to investigate at your home institution (contact the person/institute responsible for your degree) to find out whether they recognise the Summer School, how many credits can be earned from a workshop/course with roughly 35 hours of teaching, no graded work, and no exams.

Make sure to investigate this matter before registering if this is important to you.

Fee info

CHF 700: Reduced fee: 700 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for students (requires proof of student status).
CHF 1100: Normal fee: 1100 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for all others.