Course Title: International Development Fieldwork Methods

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: International Development Fieldwork Methods

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Yaso Nadarajah

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3542

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.5.28

Course Coordinator Availability: email for appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


HUSO2159 International Project Management: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

HUSO2347 Practical Ethics for International Development

For your information the RMIT Course Requisites policy can be found at;ID=twx09y07zi1c

Course Description

This course will begin with an introduction to the definitions and practices of fieldwork as multidimensional processes; and enable you to look at how the idea of the ‘field’ and the processes of ‘fieldwork’ have been historically developed. You will also examine fieldwork case studies across diverse political, social, economic and cultural domains and places; and discuss what it means to do fieldwork across, or with, local-global processes, mobilisation and decolonising activities, the public and private sectors, non-government organisations and contemporary network movements or alliances.

Throughout the course; and through your fieldwork trip, you will critically explore a range of fieldwork methods; enabling you to build creative and relevant skills, approach and aptitude required in preparing for your own fieldwork to being in the field, leaving the field, writing back from the field; and returning your research to the field. Fieldwork is not only about becoming practically aware of cultural, social, institutional, moral and personal subjectiveness; but also, about how one can employ fieldwork methods to more deeply understand oneself, and those in the field site.

There will be some costs associated with the field trip (travel, food, accommodation). These costs figures will be available when enrolment opens. These costs will vary according to the field sites selected for that semester.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

In this course, you will develop the following program learning outcomes:

  • Critically reflect on, analyse and review definitions, key developments and perspectives in fieldwork methods
  • Critically evaluate the reflexive grounding and role of you as fieldworker in various sectors and contexts
  • Work independently and in diverse teams to recognise how fieldwork methods can create vibrant and meaningful possibilities for your fieldwork analysis and action
  • Critically evaluate skills and aptitudes needed for designing your fieldwork assignment/research through to being in the field, leaving the field and writing up from the field
  • Recognise the risks, ethical and cultural challenges in any fieldwork settings
  • Build the ability to work through questions of ethics, cultural protocols and diverse knowledge systems; particularly in working with Indigenous peoples, marginalized and vulnerable communities and
  • Effectively manage your own learning, developing fieldwork skills to extend and contribute to knowledge and practice in your discipline and field of work

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. identify and work through methods to effectively, culturally and ethically access, collect and manage data in the field
  2.  manage plans and decisions regarding fieldwork (prior to, during and post) as part of your overarching fieldwork strategy
  3. identify and work on improving research productivity through more effective and efficient fieldwork
  4. demonstrate the development of skills and aptitudes needed for designing your fieldwork from being in the field to writing up from the field
  5. demonstrate an understanding of complex and hostile environments and have confidence to be able to manage risks whilst undertaking effective fieldwork

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will provide opportunities for you to explore, critique and form both knowledge of and ability to employ a range of fieldwork methods for fieldwork within the discipline or field. Activities will include small group discussion, reviewing materials and case scenarios, including audio/visual content, and interactive lectures; and particularly to enable you to work on key questions arising from targeted fieldwork issues and complex situations that keeps evolving in parallel to transformations in the global development landscape.

Primary learning activities for the On-Line Mode include fortnightly questions and case scenarios to examine and discuss key ideas and concepts. It is expected that students will work in groups, on specific case studies. Key questions will be posted fortnightly to enable students to work on targeted issues and questions arising from key readings, lectures, case studies and discussions.

A supplementary set of questions will be posted on Canvas in advance for some readings, but in general, students will always need to consider:

  • What are the main points being made?
  • How are the fieldwork methods put to work and applied?
  • How are the arguments for specific methods made?
  • How is this related to your specific discipline and field practice?

Overview of Learning Resources

You will have access to key readings and audio-visual materials for class discussions, and a list of recommended readings for an overview of key literature, concepts and processes in fieldwork methods for undertaking a field project, research or workplace placement. Additional references are also provided for students wishing to follow fieldwork methods in more detail. RMIT will provide you with additional resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems via myRMIT Studies, and additional sources, links and postings of relevant material will be made available online.

You are expected to read materials available online and refer to these reading materials in their assessment tasks. It is advisable to take notes as you read and constantly reflect on the questions raised.

The University Library has extensive resources for development studies students. The Library has produced subject guides that includes quality online and print resources for your studies - - Library Guides.

The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarians.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. You will be able to develop your work in relation to your own specific areas of interest in your fieldwork practice.

Assessment includes the following tasks:

  1. Case study reviews (30%) - CLOs 1 & 3
  2. Field participation & presentation (30%) – CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4
  3. Essay, visual or portfolio compilation (40%) - CLO 1, 2, 3 & 5

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: