Course Title: Fieldwork and Global Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Fieldwork and Global Development

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2021

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor 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


Course Description

This course will begin by addressing what constitutes the field, and how ideas of the ‘field’ and ‘fieldwork’ have been historically constructed and developed; and the practice of fieldwork in the global development context. Fieldwork invariably involves making diverse and sometimes, difficult choices and, in this course, we seek to address these questions in an inter-disciplinary and inter-generational way by drawing on fieldwork experiences of leading thinkers in global development research with accounts from early development researchers; enabling you to better prepare for some of the challenges you may face; and to provide experiential guidance as to how you could approach these challenges. 

Throughout the course, you will critically examine fieldwork as methodological approach; exploring a a range of  methods enabling you to build relevant and creative skills 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 insider-outsider relations between the researcher and the researched; but also, about how you can develop critical self-reflexivity that interrogates your own understanding, ethical engagement and representations, recognising often the case of unequal power relationships and access to resources and cultural differences.  

The course will also facilitate your engagement with “real-world” case studies and an experience-led discussion of each of the topics providing you with important insights and practical advice; whilst also contributing to a more in-depth understanding of fieldwork as a lived experience that ultimately shapes not only your research outputs, future research practice; but also, your understanding of global development in significant ways. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This is an Option course, which will complement the learning outcomes you are developing in your program.

Course Learning Outcomes 

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

  1. Critically evaluate the application of fieldwork methods in real-world case studies  
  2. Demonstrate the development of skills needed for designing your fieldwork, from being in the field to writing up from the field 
  3. Articulate and manage plans and decisions regarding fieldwork (prior to, during and post), recognising the complexities and risks in particular environments 
  4. Undertake fieldwork to effectively, culturally and ethically access, collect and manage data in the field 

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. Delivery may be face to face, online or a mix of both.   

Primary learning activities 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.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. 

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.  

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.  

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, 1,000 words (30%) – CLO 1 
  2. Reflexive participation and discussions, 1,000 words (30%) – CLOs 1, 2 & 3 
  3. Essay, visual or portfolio compilation, 2,500 words (40%) - CLOs 2, 3 & 4

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