digital anthropology online course

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

As the internet evolves, so does our need to learn about digital anthropology. We have decided to create an online course about digital anthropology for those who wish to be a part of the most exciting study into the psychology of digital tools, communication, and interactions. Learn about digital anthropology from the comfort of your own home with Infolearners’ online course. Our educators are here to help you, whether you need help creating a website or just want to learn more about digital anthropology.

Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

Discover the varying uses of social media around the world and its consequences for politics, relationships and everyday life.Join course

47,634 enrolled on this course

Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

This free online course is based on the work of nine anthropologists who each spent 15 months in fieldsites in Brazil, Chile, industrial and rural China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey.

What are the consequences of social media?

The course offers a new definition of social media which concentrates on the content posted, not just the capabilities of platforms. It examines the increasing importance of images in communication and the reasons why people post memes, selfies and photographs.

Over five weeks you will explore the impact of social media on a wide range of topics including politics, education, gender, commerce, privacy and equality. You will come to understand how the consequences of social media vary from region to region.

Take a comparative and anthropological approach to social media

The course will be taught by the same nine anthropologists who carried out the original fieldwork and who are publishing eleven books based on this research.

You will meet many of our informants through our films, engage with our team through video discussions and lectures, and encounter our ideas through animations, infographics and text.

Adopting an anthropological and comparative approach, we strive to understand not only how social media has changed the world, but how the world has changed social media.

To learn more about our research, see the Why We Post website or read our blog. If you have a question about the project, email [email protected].

Translations of this course can be found on UCLeXtend in the following languages: Chinese, Italian, Hindi, Portuguese,

What topics will you cover?

  • What is social media and how should we define it?
  • Academic approaches to social media and an introduction to anthropology.
  • The rise of images in communication.
  • The impact of social media on gender and politics.
  • The impact of social media on education, commerce and privacy.
  • The impact of social media on inequality.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available nowJoin today

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to…

  • Apply critical thinking to a range of cross-cultural qualitative and quantitative evidence.
  • Asses social media from an anthropological perspective and conduct mini research projects.
  • Compare one’s own perspective on social media to those from other cultural backgrounds.

Who is the course for?

The only requirement is an interest in social media and people.

What do people say about this course?

“As previously, FutureLearn excel themselves with this great little course on social media. It is accessible, lucid and interesting. The course leaders walk you through the steps in a fluid fashion, checking for understanding before moving on to the next stage. There is a helpful use of multi-media resources, and quiz tests to enhance the learning experience. Highly recommended!”Steff Marshall

“I have been delighted by how the course articulates one single message – each community adapts social media to their very own social needs. It uses different kinds of very short, impactful mini-lessons (videos, activities, questions, readings). I found it especially valuable how FutureLearn enables discussion among course participants in the online chat, and how teachers for this particular course contributed to it and moderated it. This has made the course eminently practical for me and helped me digest and embrace learnings. I have stayed in contact with a few fellow participants ever since, and even had a work exchange with one of the teachers.”Gianluca Marcellino

Who will you learn with?

Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at University College London. He developed the Digital Anthropology programme at UCL. @DannyAnth

Elisabetta Costa

Elisabetta Costa is a postdoctoral research fellow at the British Institute at Ankara. She is an anthropologist specialised in the study of media and digital media in Turkey and the Middle-East.

Jolynna Sinanan

Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the School of Media and Communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

Juliano Spyer

i am currently finishing my phd in anthropology, studying social media.

Laura Haapio-Kirk

I am a PhD researcher at UCL Anthropology studying smartphones and ageing in Japan, and a Leach fellow in public anthropology at the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Nell Haynes

I am a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology

Razvan Nicolescu

I am an Honorary Research Associate at the Department of Anthropology, UCL.

Shriram Venkatraman

PhD scholar at the Dept. of Anthropology, University College London. Anthropologist/Statistician. Research Interests: Technologies in Workplace, Org Culture & Entrepreneurship. @venkatshriram

Tom McDonald

I’m an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. Member of the UCL Why We Post team. |

Xinyuan Wang

Postdoctoral Researcher at UCL. The author of ‘Social Media in Industrial China’ and co-author of ‘How the World Changed Social Media’.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

Digital Ethnography


Explore issues and methods involved in conducting qualitative and/or ethnographic research in the social sciences related to the digital. This includes data gathering and analysis using “digital tools” such as mobile phones, GPS technology and software programmes  which supplement conventional ethnographic and qualitative research methods.  

You will also look at new approaches, strategies and techniques for conducting research which engage directly with online and digital environments, including social media platforms, blogs and discussions forums and fully immersive digital realms such as video games and virtual worlds. Understanding how to use these methods opens up novel areas for research and access to new forms of data and communities.

In light of the ongoing intensification of social interaction and association which occurs online and, in the wake of a global pandemic which has severely curtailed possibilities for conducting research in direct contact with others, the course explores both possibilities and opportunities for research of the digital and via the digital. For example, through the adaptation of research projects originally designed to be conducted ‘offline’ for remote, digital and ‘online’ methods and means.

Participants will be asked to design and undertake a small-scale project based on the topics covered in this module, to be presented for discussion in the final class meeting.

Programme details

The course will run over eight weeks. Participants can expect to engage with and contribute to the course for around 15 hours per week. Additional time to prepare for wider reading and assignment preparation is also required. The list of units is as follows:

Week 1: Online induction week
Week 2: Qualitative Social Sciences Research and the Digital: History of an Evolving Relationship
Week 3: Digital Tools and Digitally Mediated Research
Week 4: Digital Research and Best Practice in Data Management
Week 5: Digitally-Mediated Association, Interaction, and Sociality
Week 6: Fully Immersive Digital Spaces: Research Issues
Week 7: Ethnographic Explorations of Digitally Mediated Environments: Project Presentations
Week 8: Study week: Final Reflections


Accredited study

The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants contributing to all the forums and successfully completing the assessments (see below) will obtain 20 CATS-equivalent points (FHEQ level 7) which may count towards a Master’s level qualification. For more information on CATS points, please click here.


Oxford DPhil student rate£0.00
Standard course fee£945.00
Student rate (for students outside University of Oxford)£450.00

Course aims

By the end of the course, the student will have:

  • gained familiarity with strategies, methods and tools available for conducting digital ethnographic and qualitative research in the social sciences, with particular reference to digital and online environments (discussion forums, social media platforms, fully immersive online realms)
  • developed strategies for conducting ethnographic research remotely, e.g. via the internet and other digital technologies
  • developed strategies for integrating digital tools (e.g., GPS, mobile phone and specialist software) into conventional research in the Social Sciences.
  • gained familiarity with themes and issues – ethical, practical and conceptual – involved in conducting research in digitally-mediated environments and/or research utilising digital research methods.

Assessment methods

Students are assessed on the basis of the following:

(1) Two written submissions:
a)  Project proposal (1+ page, c. 500 words); (20%)
b)  Final reflection (2-3 pages, c. 1,500 words); (40%)
(2) Project presentation, which will also include submission of presentation slides (if utilised) (40%)

Academic Credit

Applicants may take this course for academic credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

Applicants can choose not to take the course for academic credit and will therefore not be eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students taking the course for credit. Applicants cannot receive CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CATS accreditation is required if you wish for the course to count towards a further qualification in the future.

A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.

Applicants registered to attend ‘not for credit’ who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received one calendar month in advance of the course start date. Please contact us for more details.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions.


Application deadline is 3 weeks before the start date.

We strongly recommend that you download and save files before completing to ensure that all your changes are saved.

This course requires you to complete the application form above.

Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application. In addition to their application, all DPhil students at the University of Oxford will be required to have a supporting letter from their supervisor.

Level and demands

At least some prior knowledge about and/or interest in qualitative/ethnographic research methods is required.

Whilst it will be useful to researchers at any stage of their projects, the course is primarily aimed at people who are at the beginning (pre-data collection) of their research project.