Ethnography and its varietiesMethodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

ECTS: 1/2.5 (depending on the chosen track, see working method).
Number of sessions: 3 or 5
Hours per session: 3
Entry level: Intermediate
Course fee: 

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • € 440,- for non-members (2.5 ECTS track)
  • €330,- for non-members (1 ECTS track)
  • Consult our enrolment policy for more information.


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School)

Dates, times and locations will be announced soon.


Ethnography is a rich qualitative approach that is used in various disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, including sociology, anthropology, history, education and communication studies. This course provides an account of the background and basics of ethnography as well as developments and innovations within this approach.

Special attention will be paid to two relatively new variants within the ethnographic approach: auto-ethnography and digital ethnography. In auto-ethnography, researchers explore their personal experience based on self-reflective exercises and in relation to their wider socio-political environment. Digital ethnography focusses on people’s behaviour, relations and content on internet platforms.

Aims and working method

There are five sessions consisting of lectures, discussion and practical training.

Participants can choose to follow the entire course (2.5 ECTS) or opt for one 'track' (1 ECTS). The latter means that after the mandatory introduction session participants can choose to participate in either the auto-ethnography track (day 1, 2 and 3) or the online ethnography track (day 1, 4 and 5).

Participants will be informed well in advance by e-mail on how to prepare for the sessions. After completing the course, you will:

  • Understand how ethnographic research has historically developed;
  • Understand the theoretical and methodological challenges of the ethnographic research, including recruiting research participants, gaining access to research sites and the role of the researcher;
  • Know how to apply (one of) two innovative ethnographic methods: auto-ethnography and/or online ethnography.

Required skills

This course is designed for those with no or limited experience in ethnographic research generally, nor in auto-ethnography and online ethnography.

Session descriptions

  • Session 1:
    Introduction: Theoretical and methodological background and development of the field

    This day focusses on the theoretical and methodological backgrounds to ethnographic research in general, such as:

    • Methodological and epistemological considerations
    • Theoretical underpinnings of ethnographic research
    • General do’s and don’ts in the research cycle

    Furthermore this session will focus on the historical evolution of ethnography, by discussing

    • The historical development of the field
    • The highlight of seminal studies
    • Studies with ethnographic ‘intent’
    • Innovations in ethnography

  • Session 2 and 3:
    Auto-ethnography track

    Day two and three will focus on auto-ethnography as one of the innovative approaches in ethnography.

    • Background
    • Examples from the literature
    • The method of auto-ethnography: data collection and analysis
    • Hands-on exercises, presentation and discussion of own work (day 3)

  • Session 4 and 5:
    Online ethnography track

    Day four and five will discuss digital ethnography, a second innovative approach within the ethnographic method.

    • Background
    • Examples from the literature
    • The method of online ethnography: data collection and analysis
    • Hands-on exercises, presentation and discussion of own work (day 5)

About the instructor(s)

The instructor(s) of this course will be announced soon.