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Advanced methodology: Fieldwork methods and interviews

global studies / International Development Studies / International Public Administration and Politics / Politics and Administration / Public Administration
master course
Teaching language

You register for activities through stads selvbetjening during the announced registration period, which you can see on the Study administration homepage.

When registering for courses, please be aware of the potential conflicts and overlaps between course and exam time and dates. The planning of course activities at Roskilde University is based on the recommended study programmes, which should not overlap. However, if you choose optional courses and/or study plans that goes beyond the recommended study programmes, an overlap of lectures or exam dates may occur depending on which courses you choose.

In case of too few registrations, the course will be cancelled.

Detailed description of content

The methodological concept of ”fieldwork” was developed by anthropologists more than a century ago. It originally referred to a long (one year at least), in-depth holistic study of a society. In recent decades, fieldwork methods have been broadened and developed within a variety of disciplines, including global studies. Today, fieldwork studies can often be short, intensive and case-oriented. But what is “fieldwork” really? Which activities are we dealing with, and how does one prepare for these activities? For what kind of projects are fieldwork-related methods relevant or necessary? Which are the pitfalls of doing fieldwork? This course will present aspects of doing fieldwork, including participation, observation, informal conversation and dialogue, focusing on three stages: preparation, carrying out the fieldwork (the fieldwork period proper), and applying fieldwork data (including visual data and fieldwork notes) in text-writing and analysis. It will also be discussed how one engages with research subjects in an ethically grounded manner (again, before, during and after the fieldwork period proper), ensuring correct and proper use of personal data, which in many cases can be sensitive.

Knowledge of fieldwork as a method within the social sciences. Skills to formulate a fieldwork strategy with reference to a problem formulation; skills to engage ethical issues pertinent to fieldwork and its application, enabling the student to carry out fieldwork related practices in an ethically grounded manner Competencies to plan and carry out a brief period of fieldwork, employing various concrete methods of datagathering, including observation, participation and informal dialogue, Competencies to be able to use primary data stemming from fieldwork in text-writing and analysis.

Expected work effort (ects-declaration)

27x5=135 hours

Class: 10x2=20 Reading for class: 10x5,5=55 fieldwork exercises preparing for class: 25 hours exam: 35

Course material and reading list

Articles and readings will be posted on Moodle; there is no textbook for the course.

Evaluation- and feedback forms

Feedback to practical exercises will be given in class through oral discussions and as general plenary feedback. The course will have a final evaluation.

Administration of exams
ISE Studyadministration (ise-studyadministration@ruc.dk)
The responsible course lecturer
Bjørn Thomassen (bthomas@ruc.dk)
Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

Knowledge and understanding:

Knowledge and understanding of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods and their application and relevance on an advanced level

Being able to understand and critically reflect upon academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods in the field of social science research and how they are used in the students’ future careers as, for example, lecturers, project managers, consultants, managers or researchers

  • Skills:

    Carrying out studies and analyses with the aid of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods

  • Evaluating and selecting methods from research-related and professional practices

  • Being able to communicate and discuss academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented studies in a type of language that is correct, clear, professionally accurate, well-structured and well-argued.

  • Competences:

    Working with colleagues in the application of various academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented methods and forms of analysis in relation to relevant issues in research and professional contexts

  • Reflection on one’s own learning and taking responsibility for one’s own professional development

Overall content
  • Research and professional premises for academic and scientifically based practice-oriented analyse
  • Approaches to the use of academic and/or scientifically based practice-oriented tools in research and professional contexts, respectively
Prerequisites for participation
Currently no data from curriculum.
Prerequisites for participation in the exam
Currently no data from curriculum.
Teaching and working methods

Lectures, exercises, student presentations, peer feedback and discussions. The course requires that the students contribute and participate actively. Handing in the assignments on an ongoing basis is not required in order to participate in the examination, but typically it would be an advantage to do so. Thus, part of the portfolio can contain elements related to the teaching and ongoing submissions, such as feedback.

Type of activity

Elective course

Form of examination
Individual portfolio consisting of written products and other types of products.

The portfolio consists of 3 to 5 products, that wholly or partially developed during the course. The products are e.g.. answers to exercises, an outline for a presentation, written feedback, written reflections and written assignments, wiki-inputs, sound productions and visual productions.. The preparation of the products may be subject to time limits.

The total character limit of portfolio incl. the written products is 24,000-31,200 characters, including spaces.
The character limits include the cover, table of contents, bibliography, figures and other illustrations, but exclude any appendices.

The portfolio's specific products and the (if relevant) recommended size (character limits) for the individual products are made public on study.ruc.dk before the course begins.

The entire portfolio must be handed in at the same time (uploaded to eksamen.ruc.dk). Handing in the portfolio or parts of the portfolio to the supervisor for feedback, cannot replace the upload to eksamen.ruc.dk.
The submission deadline will be announced on study.ruc.dk before the course begins.

The assessment is individual and based on the entire portfolio.

Assessment: 7-point grading scale.
Form of Re-examination
Samme som ordinær eksamen
Exam code(s)
Exam code(s) : U40914
Last changed 02/07/2020

lecture list:

Show lessons for Subclass: 1 Find calendar (1) PDF for print (1)

Wednesday 10-02-2021 08:15 - 10-02-2021 10:00 in week 06
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 17-02-2021 08:15 - 17-02-2021 12:00 in week 07
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 03-03-2021 08:15 - 03-03-2021 12:00 in week 09
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 10-03-2021 08:15 - 10-03-2021 12:00 in week 10
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 17-03-2021 08:15 - 17-03-2021 12:00 in week 11
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Wednesday 24-03-2021 08:15 - 24-03-2021 10:00 in week 12
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Tuesday 06-04-2021 10:00 - 06-04-2021 10:00 in week 14
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews - Submission of portfolio (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)

Friday 27-08-2021 10:00 - 27-08-2021 10:00 in week 34
Fieldwork Methods and Interviews - Resubmission of portfolio (GS, IDS, IPAP, PF, POL)