ANTH4730 – Critical Readings in Visual Anthropology: Ethnography, Theory, and Experimentation

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course will introduce students to some of the most exciting theoretical discussions in contemporary anthropology, which have to do with the status of images (both moving and still // film/video and photography) as a source of knowledge, research tool, and mode of representation. Rather than being mere illustrations (such as photos in the majority of anthropological literature), or indices of things, people or events (such as in mainstream documentary film), images are here understood as producing themselves knowledge, theory and argument. Such a renewed theoretical focus on and with images is required not only to understand our increasingly mediatized global world, but also the image use in radically different societies, and indeed by anthropologists themselves. The course will be useful not only for analysis of and with the visual in our global world, but also for students wanting to think through ‘visually’ their upcoming fieldwork, and when (post-fieldwork) writing their MA thesis.

Learning outcome

General knowledge 

  • Understand the relevance of visual anthropology for anthropological theory
  • Critically assess the status of moving images, stills, and other visual media products in a global world


  • Analyse and evaluate ethnographic films and other products of visual anthropology
  • Explore the potential of visual anthropology for the ethnography of media productions
  • Explore the potential of insights from visual anthropology for your own MA projects

General competence

  • Deepen the capacity visual thought and analysis and appreciate its relevance in anthropology and beyond
  • Enhance the ability to talk about one’s written and visual work (including powerpoint) and presentation skills


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

This course is not available for single course students.

Students must be admitted to the Master's programme in Social Anthropology, or to the Master specialisation in didactics for social science in the Teacher Education Programme (Lektorprogrammet).


Recommended previous knowledge

This course is designed for MA students in social anthropology. We recommend having studied social anthropology at university level before enrolling in this course.


Lectures (including film screenings), discussions based on readings, and student presentations. In the presentations students will discuss the literature in relation to their projects, and can also present their own photos or film-clips (or, alternatively, other examples from film/video and photography), and discuss them in light of the literature.


The examination consists of:

  • a visual presentation to a satisfactory visual standard (Powerpoint, Prezi or similar with fully edited slides, film /video clip, photographic, or multimedia essay).
  • a written essay of minimum 1200 words based on the visual presentation. The essay must be prefaced by a bullet point / abstract, and is to be circulated in class on the day of the presentation. Note that this examination will take part during the course, within the class sessions.

    Both the visual presentation and the essay are mandatory, and must be approved in order to pass the course.

Language of examination

You must write your examination paper in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

In case of appeal against grades, the visual product and the essay will be assessed again by two new examiners. If both are considered satisfactory, students must give a presentation of the visual product to the new examiners. Both the presentation and the essay must be approved to pass the course.

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Spring 2022


Spring 2022

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