Observational & Ethnographic Methods

Organised by

The Qualitative Researcher


Dr Karen Lumsden




Online via Zoom


Dr Karen Lumsden


This online Zoom course introduces you to ethnographic methods and observation which are valuable techniques in qualitative research where the focus is on understanding in great depth the meanings, views, behaviours, beliefs and actions of a particular culture, group or organisation. Ethnography typically involves extended periods of time ‘in the field’, while participant observation and observational techniques can also be used to examine groups and cultures in a shorter time period and alongside other methods.

We also look at examples of what Wall (2004) calls ‘focused ethnography’ in order to examine how observational methods can be used in a shorter timescale than a ‘traditional’ ethnography, and in applied settings in order to understand for example organisational cultures and behaviours. I draw on my experiences of conducting both traditional ethnographic research and ‘focused ethnography’ with the police to demonstrate the benefits and drawbacks of these approaches. We cover:

- The history of ethnography and participant observation

- The principles and techniques of ethnography

- ‘Focused ethnography’ in applied settings

- Accessing the field, gatekeepers and building rapport

- Insider versus outsider research: pros and cons

- Recording data via field notes, diaries, and other techniques

- The importance of an abductive and reflexive approach

- Ethics, risk and safety in the field

- Writing up your ethnography and ‘thick description’


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


£110 for waged / £90 for students, part-time, unwaged

Website and registration




Data Collection, Observation

Related publications and presentations

Data Collection

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