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Fieldwork RMSS

Fieldwork RMSS

Fieldwork is a mandatory element in the curriculum of students in the Interpretative and Mixed Methods with Fieldwork specialisation. Fieldwork is in-depth empirical and ethnographic field research and is an integral part of the thesis project.

Students work on fieldwork and the thesis throughout the programme, in several courses. Besides theoretical preparations, there are also practical matters that need to be born in mind. These include arranging a visa, vaccinations (if applicable), tickets, housing and possibly funding. During the course Ethnographic Methods and Fieldwork Preparation you will prepare for your fieldwork, and the study advisor and the international office will inform you about the standing procedures concerning the fieldwork subsidy, the local supervision fee and the research master conference fund. Here you will also receive tips and pointers about how and where you can find and apply for additional financial grants, how and where to get your vaccines or travel visas etc.

Supervision

It is crucial to start orienting yourself on a possible thesis supervisor already as early as in block three of the first year. This can be done by studying the bibliographies of the different researchers affiliated to the AISSR, by informing with your specialisation tutor or by contacting potential thesis supervisors yourselves. The thesis supervisor is expected to give supervision during the preparations and writing of the research proposal, during the implementation of the fieldwork and during the writing of the final thesis. Supervisors are expected to at least spend between 7 to 10 contact hours on supervising the pre-fieldwork and fieldwork period, in addition to reading drafts and reports from the field, so don’t be shy to approach your supervisor when you need advice.

The Research Proposal

The theoretical and methodological preparations are formalized in the form of the research proposal and will be written in the Ethnographic Methods and Fieldwork Preparation. During this course, you will be guided in thinking through the research design and the practical side of the research project (e.g. planning and budget). The research proposal should include the following elements:

  • Introduction with aim and topic of the thesis.
  • Research question(s) and problem definition, which together outline the specification of the topic.
  • Theoretical framework, which consists of a brief literature review of relevant theories and operationalization of the major concepts. This can take the form of problematizing different concepts in relation to the specific topic and outlining how the research will contribute to new understandings of these concepts.
  • Outline of the field, in which is specified what the location or research site is and what will be studied there (i.e. units of analysis).
  • Outline of the planned activities.
  • Relevance of the fieldwork to the student’s curriculum.
  • Short research design, in which the nature of the data collection and data analysis is specified.
  • Timetable and budget plan.
  • Details of thesis supervisor  and, if applicable, of the local supervisor.

For a more detailed description of the required elements of the research proposal, see the section on the thesis proposal in the RMSS Thesis Manual.  

The research proposal needs to be completed at the end of the Ethnographic Methods and Fieldwork Preparation and needs to be approved by the thesis supervisor and the lecturer of the course. The supervisor will sign the Research Proposal Form. When also the student has signed this form it can be handed in at studyadvisor-rmss@uva.nl.

Students who will be doing their fieldwork abroad are entitled to the GSSS Fieldwork Subsidy.

Fieldwork Report

In order for you to receive the credits for the fieldwork after returning from the field, you have to write a Fieldwork Report.

 

The Fieldwork Report should consist of the following elements:

  • a description of the field and the research undertaken.
  • A preliminary  answer to the research question posed in the fieldwork proposal
  • an evaluation by the student of the value of the fieldwork, problems encountered, a reflection on the fieldwork, etc.

The fieldwork report should be between 5 to 10  pages (excluding appendices). After completion of the fieldwork and approval of the report the student will receive a completed (an A.V.V. = aan voorwaarden voldaan) and not a grade.

The Fieldwork Report will be written in block three of year two ultimately, and needs to be approved by the thesis supervisor. To this purpose the thesis supervisor fills out the grade sheet for the fieldwork, not with a grade, but simply a stamp of completion (an A.V.V. = aan voorwaarden voldaan). The grade sheet needs to be signed by the thesis supervisor and sent to registrar-gsss@uva.nl.  

The programme culminates in the writing of a thesis (24 EC). It is the final process for the completion of your Master’s degree and the ultimate test of your academic skills. The goal of the thesis is to prove that you have acquired sufficient academic knowledge, skills and insights to set up, write up, empirically investigate and substantiate a clear, systematic argument. Indeed, the thesis is the capstone of the research profile you have been developing during the two years of the programme and should show your ability to conduct research independently. The programme requires you to write the thesis in the form of an academic article or ethnography, to be submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed academic journal.

For a detailed description of the thesis objectives, the thesis process and a general overview of how to write a thesis, see the RMSS Thesis Manual.