This is a practical module in which you'll find and negotiate a work placement within an organisation outside the university. These organisations can be either not-for-profit or profitbased. They might include activist groups and Non – Governmental Organisations involved in rights, advocacy or development work, local community-based initiatives, social entrepreneurship initiatives, law firms, media outlets and corporations involved in corporate social responsibility projects. The module allows students a great deal of flexibility in arranging the nature of the placement and the organisation involved, in consultation with the module convener and the college placements office.
For programmes on which the placement is a core module, the placement provides the opportunity to interrogate the boundary between theory and practice.
For students on MA Migration and Mobility, the placement module is also a platform for more nuanced investigation of the relationship between research led, theoretical approaches to migration and mobility and the exigencies and logistics involved in advocacy, practical interventions and vocational application. Advocacy and development work are not in opposition to critical, theoretical concerns – they are mutually constitutive. But understanding how various kinds of considerations need to balance against one another, what needs to take priority and when, can only be gleaned from first hand experiences and observations.
The placements involve working half a day a week carrying out a project useful to the organisation. You'll gain an understanding of the demands, constraints and concerns of working within an organisation and will be able to draw out connections between the practical issues of concern to the organisation in their applied work and the theoretical issues addressed in the rest of the module.
Students are expected to negotiate a work placement in the autumn term, to be taken up before the end of January or in early February at the latest. The placement should be for one half day a week ideally, but no greater than a full working day a week, to allow students to also attend to the other elements of their study on the module. Where more than a half day placement is being negotiated, the convenor will need to be informed.
The hours are to be agreed by the organisation and the student, but should not impinge on attendance at lectures and seminars that make up part of the student's studies on the MA. The duration of the placement is also to be agreed between the parties involved, but should ideally last for 10 weeks. Students who wish to consider their placement for a longer period should remember to take into consideration the amount of time and effort that will be required during the assessment period and to consider their own progress on their dissertations before undertaking any further commitments.
During the placement, students are asked to make a positive, 'hands on' contribution to the work of the organisation that has accepted them and to abide by the organisation's own code of conduct. The academic expectations of the placement include gaining a closer understanding of the historical and conceptual approaches that frame the work and goals of the organisation, together with a better appreciation of the demands and constraints under which the organisation operates. While it is hoped that these understandings will be largely the product of your work in the organisation (a form of participant observation in anthropological terms), it is always useful to conduct semi-structured interviews with members of the organisation where co-workers are amenable to the idea and where it in no way proves disruptive to your work there.
All students are reminded that the placement, both as part of their anthropological training and as a form of ‘field research’, are governed by the Ethical Guidelines adopted by the American Association of Anthropologists.