During the course, the teacher presents the theory by showing films or excerpts from ethnographic, sociological and documentary films. These film screenings and analyses are intended to stimulate discussions on the various filmic methods in the social sciences (from visual sociology and anthropology) and the links between audiovisual research and documentary film.
In order to apply the theory to practice, the teacher proposes to the students to make a documentary film alone or in group (maximum 4 people) of between 10 and 15 minutes. To do this, students must choose the methodology of the film they wish to make and the theme they wish to address. The film can be made using an observational method, or it can be made with the collaboration of the people filmed in the construction of the film, using a participant observation approach. Students may choose to observe a situation, interactions and people over a given period of time and/or to conduct an interview with one or more people on a given theme. The theme is completely free as long as it remains in the social sciences. For example, in previous years, students filmed a man talking to his mother about his arrival in Switzerland and his integration process. Others chose to focus their documentary on a bar in Geneva, a place where social ties are created.
In the middle of the semester, students must write a description of the project they want to do and submit it to the teachers for validation. If necessary, the teachers can redirect them. Once the description and the problematic have been validated, the teacher regularly informs herself of the progress of each group during the class sessions and offers support for any difficulties encountered. Depending on the year, she has sometimes organized technical support sessions with the intervention of a specialist in video production from the University's cultural activities.
In order to deepen the theory, the teacher has recently introduced the creation of a reading sheet based on scientific articles. In order to do so, since 2019, a tutorial session has been dedicated to training students to write such a report card. In a flipped classroom format, students must read a scientific article before the class as well as a writing guide. During a tutorial session, the reading sheet of this article is done collectively. First, in pairs, the students must discuss the article, situate it in its context, and criticize it. They then exchange with the other groups in order to reach a collective feedback through the Padlet tool. To validate the tutorial, students must then complete an individual or group reading sheet at home on one of the 10 articles that make up the required readings. This reading sheet is due in the middle of the semester.
The evaluation of the course is based on the film and the reading sheet produced following the tutorial (approximately ¼ of the grade). Students who do not wish to make a film may choose to write a paper of about ten pages on a topic of their choice validated by the teacher (deepening of a theoretical aspect, comparison of articles, analysis of a film, film project). On the day of the exam, all the films are screened with the participation of all the students and followed by an oral discussion on the film or the written work. The publication of the films on Vimeo of the visual sociology unit according to their quality is granted following the exam.