Introduction to Ethnographic Methods



Organised by:

Social Research Association


Professor Karen O'Reilly


Advanced (specialised prior knowledge)


Lindsay Adams
E: (preferred method of contact)
T: 0204 551 3864


View in Google Maps  (N1 9RL)


The Society Building
8 All Saints Street


This course introduces participants to the principals and practicalities of ethnographic methods, especially participant observation. (Advanced - participants should not be new to qualitative research) 


This course introduces participants to the principals and practicalities of ethnographic methods, especially participant observation. Ethnography is widely used, for diverse questions, in creative ways that respond to social and technological developments. 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 is as practical as possible, 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 other methods.


By the end of the course participants should:

  • Be able to make close, theory-oriented observations through participation, observation, and conversation.
  • Be equipped to record and begin to analyse the data produced through diverse ethnographic 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.
  • Take a reflexive and ethical approach to employing diverse methodological tools


  • The key principles of ethnography
  • Classic and contemporary approaches
  • The practicalities of ethnography
  • Doing participant observation
  • Accessing the field
  • Creating fieldnotes
  • Being an insider and avoiding over attachment
  • Ethnographic interviews and conversations
  • Ethical issues and reflexivity in relation to ethnographic methods

Who will benefit?

The course rapidly takes participants from a basic understanding of what ethnography is and how it is applied to the level of being able to put their knowledge and skills to practice in diverse settings. It is expected that participants will have a specific field, topic or application in mind for applying an ethnographic approach. Some prior familiarity with qualitative methods, such as a design course and some training in methods such as interviewing and focus groups, is essential. Participants should not be new to qualitative research.

Course Tutor

Karen O'Reilly is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University and a Freelance Researcher. She has taught ethnographic and qualitative methods for over 25 years, including the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Collection and Analysis, the Swiss Summer School in Social Science Methods, in Lugano; at the Universities of Aberdeen, Essex, Loughborough and Oxford; and in Germany, Norway and Hong Kong. Her experience also includes being a Member of the Advisory Board of the NCRM biannual Research Methods Festival 2011-2012; and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College 2012 – 2016.

Karen is a highly experienced ethnographer whose many publications include two widely cited books on ethnography: Ethnographic Methods (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2012) and Key Concepts in Ethnography (Sage, 2009). She has also been instrumental in the design and evaluation of Masters level Research Methods courses and programmes in a number of universities. Karen provides short courses for the SRA on a regular basis.


£270.00 SRA members pay £202.50

Website and registration:


Greater London


Ethnographic Research

Related publications and presentations:

Ethnographic Research

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